"Bussola Morta" (Dead Compass)

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Name used in Renaissance times, especially in the Veneto region.


Instrument for transferring the data acquired in a survey to a drawing. This name is found only in the treatise by Vincenzo Scamozzi (L’idea della architettura universale, Venice 1615, Part I, Book I, Chap. XV, p. 51: "The letter H represents the Bossola morta, to put the Sites on a drawing") and from the indications it would seem to be a goniometric circle, carrying the same divisions as those of the surveying compass, and equipped with a ruler and an altazimuth square. It was used to transfer surveying data, i.e., position angles and distances from the surveying station, onto a sheet of drawing paper. The instrument was called "morta" (dead) because it had no magnetized needle. The compass with magnetized needle, or surveying compass, was thus called "bussola viva" (alive compass).

Bibliographical Resources

Scamozzi, Vincenzo. L’idea della architettura universale, Venezia 1615, Parte I, Lib. I, Cap. XV, p. 51.


Author of the entry: Filippo Camerota

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