From that time, the term designated the sphere of influence of the Western Church , as opposed to both the Eastern Orthodox churches and to the Islamic world. The term "Europe" is first used for a cultural sphere in the Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century. The question of defining a precise eastern boundary of Europe arises in the Early Modern period, as the eastern extension of Muscovy began to include Northern Asia. Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the far east are usually taken to be the Urals, the Ural River , and the Caspian Sea ; to the southeast, including the Caucasus Mountains , the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BC by Anaximander and Hecataeus.
The question of defining a precise eastern boundary of Europe arises in the Early Modern period, as the eastern extension of Muscovy began to include Northern Asia. Strait of Gibraltar The prevalent definition of Europe as a geographical term has been in use since the midth century. The term "Europe" is first used for a cultural sphere in the Carolingian Renaissance of the 9th century. To the south, the Kuma—Manych Depression was identified circa by a German naturalist, Peter Simon Pallas , as a valley that, once upon a time, connected the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea,   and subsequently was proposed as a natural boundary between continents. By the midth century, there were three main conventions, one following the Don, the Volga—Don Canal and the Volga, the other following the Kuma—Manych Depression to the Caspian and then the Ural River, and the third abandoning the Don altogether, following the Greater Caucasus watershed to the Caspian. But maps produced during the 16th to 18th centuries tended to differ in how to continue the boundary beyond the Don bend at Kalach-na-Donu where it is closest to the Volga, now joined with it by the Volga—Don Canal , into territory not described in any detail by the ancient geographers. The atlas published by the Russian Academy of Sciences has the boundary follow the Don beyond Kalach as far as Serafimovich before cutting north towards Arkhangelsk , while other 18th- to 19th-century mapmakers such as John Cary followed Strahlenberg's prescription. The question was still treated as a "controversy" in geographical literature of the s, with Douglas Freshfield advocating the Caucasus crest boundary as the "best possible", citing support from various "modern geographers". Nevertheless, there are some exceptions based on sociopolitical and cultural differences. Cyprus is closest to Anatolia or Asia Minor , but is usually considered part of Europe both culturally and politically and is a member state of the EU. From that time, the term designated the sphere of influence of the Western Church , as opposed to both the Eastern Orthodox churches and to the Islamic world. Europa often[ dubious — discuss ] figures in the letters of Charlemagne's court scholar, Alcuin. Throughout the Middle Ages and into the 18th century, the traditional division of the landmass of Eurasia into two continents, Europe and Asia, followed Ptolemy, with the boundary following the Turkish Straits , the Black Sea , the Kerch Strait , the Sea of Azov and the Don ancient Tanais. A cultural definition of Europe as the lands of Latin Christendom coalesced in the 8th century, signifying the new cultural condominium created through the confluence of Germanic traditions and Christian-Latin culture, defined partly in contrast with Byzantium and Islam , and limited to northern Iberia , the British Isles, France, Christianised western Germany, the Alpine regions and northern and central Italy. Europe is taken to be bounded by large bodies of water to the north, west and south; Europe's limits to the far east are usually taken to be the Urals, the Ural River , and the Caspian Sea ; to the southeast, including the Caucasus Mountains , the Black Sea and the waterways connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Malta was considered an island of Northwest Africa for centuries. Philip Johan von Strahlenberg in was the first to depart from the classical Don boundary by drawing the line along the Volga , following the Volga north until the Samara Bend , along Obshchy Syrt the drainage divide between Volga and Ural and then north along Ural Mountains. As a name for a part of the known world, it is first used in the 6th century BC by Anaximander and Hecataeus.
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