Athanasius Kircher’s map series serve to elucidate the planet’s inner workings

Asha Bajaj
3 min readMar 3, 2021

#PlanetInnnerWorking; #Interpretation; # AthanasiusKircher; #Maps; #LibraryOfCongress

Washington/Canadian-Media: Athanasius Kircher, a scholar, scientist, and Jesuit priest based his theories about the world beneath his feet, and created a series of three maps from 1668 as part of his book, ‘Mundus subterraneus’ (Subterranean World) that show an impressive interpretation of the planet’s inner workings, Library of Congress (LoC) reports said.

These maps are housed in the LOC’s Rare Book Division.

Scientists and storytellers have often wondered about the happenings under the surface of the Earth, and have come up with imaginative subterranean worlds.

Kircher thought that the subterranean world could explain the volcanic activity and the movements of the tides.

A complex system by which fire travels from the Earth’s core to its surface, breaking through via the eruptions of volcanoes (or montes Vulcanii, mountains of Vulcan, the Roman god of metalworking and fire) is explained by the first map, Systema Ideale Pyrophylaciorum.

Athanasius Kircher. Systema ideale pyrophylaciorum. 1668. Rare Book Division of LoC.

Shown on the map is a large central fire (ignis centralis) labeled A, with canals labeled C, and smaller lakes (aestuaria) of fire, labeled B.

The presence of lakes and rivers are similar to those found on the Earth’s surface with the difference that these canals are made of fire.

Clearly discernable on the map are paths leading from the central flame to volcanic eruptions around the world, with the smoke emerging from the volcanoes matching the swirling clouds surrounding the globe forming illusive images of the smoke and ash that accompany volcanic eruptions.

Kircher admits that there are gaps in his theory, though current science, he adds that the notion of a fiery Earth’s core is not entirely incorrect evidenced by the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the temperature of the inner core is as hot as the surface of the sun.

However, according to Kircher, besides fire or pyrophylacia, (fire-houses) traveling through the underground, there were also hydrophylacia, or “water-houses,” that interacted with the ignis centralis and



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women