Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) was a Jesuit priest and scholar who gathered knowledge from around the world through Jesuit missionaries and disseminated it in a more compelling and effective form. In many ways, Kircher was one of the last great Renaissance thinkers. In addition to his explorations of the Earth’s interior, he conducted experiments using bioluminescence as a light source and was the first known maker of the Aeolian harp.

Kircher assembled one of the first natural history collections in the world, wrote more than forty books, and left over 2000 manuscripts behind. Within this oeuvre was a range of ground-breaking (and often highly speculative) maps, including the first depiction of the Pacific Ring of Fire and the first map to show oceanic currents on a global scale.