Author(s): Alessandro Scafi
People everywhere share some kind of nostalgia for an innocence experienced at the beginning of history and look forward to a joy promised at the end of time, meanwhile searching for contemporary happiness. For two millennia, learned Christians have wondered where on earth could the primal paradise have been located? Where was the idyllic Garden of Eden that is described in the Bible? Where were Adam and Eve created in their unspoiled perfection? Scholars early rose to the challenge to identify the place on a map of the world, despite the certain knowledge that it was unreachable. Maps of Paradise charts the diverse ways in which they were led to depict the Garden of Eden on maps from Late Antiquity to the twenty-first century. It is the history of a paradox: the mapping of the unmappable. It is also a mirror to the universal dream of perfection and the yearning to find heaven on earth.
Dr Alessandro Scafi is Lecturer at the Warburg Institute, University of London. He is the author of Mapping Paradise: A History of Heaven on Earth (British Library, 2006).