Maps

More then just drawing a line

In our daily lives, we see maps everywhere and we can use them whenever we want. We expect that digital maps can bring us exactly where we want to go. If needed, maps these days can even give us the information that we want too. For example, they can tell us where the nearest gas station or restaurant is situated. The concept of the map is very old and the techniques are very different. Of course it has to do with what was technically possible. But it was also important why people wanted to use a map. To be precise was not always the main goal, but thanks to satellites we can be precise today. However, maps are still inaccurate, nonetheless the techniques we use today. A map is like a doll or a car: by definition parts some aspects can be are exaggerated, simplified and selected. The position and size of the continents, countries and oceans all play a role in our view of the world. A map always contains a message, which can even be amplified by the material. This collection is organised in a chronological way and covers maps from the ancient times to the very recent history. A lot of attention is dedicated to the technical information and to the question: why would anyone use this map?

This source collection has been developed by Bjorn Pels with the support of Laura Steenbrink. The source collection makes use of sources provided by The British Library, Arachne, Etnografiska museet, Biblioteca de Catalunya, Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico, Bavarian State Library, Royal Museums Greenwich, National Library of Portugal, Stedelijk Museum Zutphen, SMB-digital, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico, The Discovery Programme, The Wellcome Library, Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin in der Universitätsbibliothek and Europeana 1914-1918.

Tabula Peutingeriana

The Tabula Peutingeriana is the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus; it was made by a monk in Colmar in the 13th century. It is a parchment scroll, 0.34 m high and 6.75 m long, assembled from eleven sections, a medieval reproduction of the original scroll. It is a very schematic map that uses many symbols: the land masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows Roman settlements, the roads connecting them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also indicated. In total, no less than 555 cities and 3500 other names of places are shown. The three most important cities of the Roman Empire; Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decoration. In addition to the Roman empire, the map shows the Near East, India and the Ganges, Sri Lanka (Insula Taprobane), and even an indication of China. (Arachne entityId:3720860, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Tabula Peutingeriana

The Tabula Peutingeriana is the only known surviving map of the Roman cursus publicus; it was made by a monk in Colmar in the 13th century. It is a parchment scroll, 0.34 m high and 6.75 m long, assembled from eleven sections, a medieval reproduction of the original scroll. It is a very schematic map that uses many symbols: the land masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows Roman settlements, the roads connecting them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also indicated. In total, no less than 555 cities and 3500 other names of places are shown. The three most important cities of the Roman Empire; Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decoration. In addition to the Roman empire, the map shows the Near East, India and the Ganges, Sri Lanka (Insula Taprobane), and even an indication of China. (Arachne entityId:3720860, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

'Medieval Islam'

This map is from 1807 but based on the work of Muhammad al-Idrisi (1100-1165). Medieval Islamic geography was based on Hellenistic geography and reached its apex with Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 12th century. After its beginnings in the 8th century based on Hellenistic geography, Islamic geography was patronized by the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. Various Islamic scholars contributed to its development. Islamic cartographers inherited Ptolemy's Almagest and Geography in the 9th century. These works stimulated an interest in geography but were not slavishly followed. Instead, Arabian and Persian cartography followed Al-Khwārizmī in adopting a rectangular projection, shifting Ptolemy's Prime Meridian several degrees eastwards, and modifying many of Ptolemy's geographical coordinates. Having received Greek writings directly and without Latin intermediation, Arabian and Persian geographers made no use of the European-style T-O maps. Muslim scientists made many of their own contributions to geography and the sciences of the earth. In the 11th century, the Uyghur scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari was the first to draw an ethnographic map of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. (The British Library 003798417_v02p000617, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

'Medieval Islam'

This map is from 1807 but based on the work of Muhammad al-Idrisi (1100-1165). Medieval Islamic geography was based on Hellenistic geography and reached its apex with Muhammad al-Idrisi in the 12th century. After its beginnings in the 8th century based on Hellenistic geography, Islamic geography was patronized by the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad. Various Islamic scholars contributed to its development. Islamic cartographers inherited Ptolemy's Almagest and Geography in the 9th century. These works stimulated an interest in geography but were not slavishly followed. Instead, Arabian and Persian cartography followed Al-Khwārizmī in adopting a rectangular projection, shifting Ptolemy's Prime Meridian several degrees eastwards, and modifying many of Ptolemy's geographical coordinates. Having received Greek writings directly and without Latin intermediation, Arabian and Persian geographers made no use of the European-style T-O maps. Muslim scientists made many of their own contributions to geography and the sciences of the earth. In the 11th century, the Uyghur scholar Mahmud al-Kashgari was the first to draw an ethnographic map of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. (The British Library 003798417_v02p000617, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Hereford Mappa Mundi

A T and O map or O-T or T-O map (orbis terrarum, orb or circle of the lands; with the letter T inside an O), is a type of a medieval world map, sometimes also called a Beatine map or a Beatus map because one of the earliest known representations of this sort is attributed to Beatus of Liébana, an 8th-century Spanish monk. The T and O map represents only the one half of the spherical Earth. It was presumably considered a convenient projection of known-inhabited parts, the northern half of the globe. Because the southern half the world was considered uninhabited, or unattainable, there was no need to depict it on a world map. The T is the Mediterranean, the Nile, and the Don dividing the three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa, and the O is the encircling ocean. Jerusalem was generally represented in the center of the map. Asia was the size of the other two continents combined. Because the sun rose in the east, Paradise (the Garden of Eden) was generally depicted as being in Asia, and Asia was situated at the top portion of the map. This qualitative and conceptual type of medieval cartography could yield extremely detailed maps in addition to simple representations. The earliest maps only had a few cities and the most important parts of water, with the four sacred rivers of the Holy Land always present. More useful tools for the traveller were the itinerary, that listed in order the names of towns between two points, and the periplus that did the same for harbors and landmarks along the coast. (The British Library 000307726_v0p000008, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Hereford Mappa Mundi

A T and O map or O-T or T-O map (orbis terrarum, orb or circle of the lands; with the letter T inside an O), is a type of a medieval world map, sometimes also called a Beatine map or a Beatus map because one of the earliest known representations of this sort is attributed to Beatus of Liébana, an 8th-century Spanish monk. The T and O map represents only the one half of the spherical Earth. It was presumably considered a convenient projection of known-inhabited parts, the northern half of the globe. Because the southern half the world was considered uninhabited, or unattainable, there was no need to depict it on a world map. The T is the Mediterranean, the Nile, and the Don dividing the three continents, Asia, Europe and Africa, and the O is the encircling ocean. Jerusalem was generally represented in the center of the map. Asia was the size of the other two continents combined. Because the sun rose in the east, Paradise (the Garden of Eden) was generally depicted as being in Asia, and Asia was situated at the top portion of the map. This qualitative and conceptual type of medieval cartography could yield extremely detailed maps in addition to simple representations. The earliest maps only had a few cities and the most important parts of water, with the four sacred rivers of the Holy Land always present. More useful tools for the traveller were the itinerary, that listed in order the names of towns between two points, and the periplus that did the same for harbors and landmarks along the coast. (The British Library 000307726_v0p000008, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The stick chart

The Polynesian peoples, who explored and settled the Pacific islands in the first two millenniums AD, used maps to navigate across large distances. A map from the Marshall Islands used sticks tied in a grid with palm strips representing wave and wind patterns, with shells attached to show the location of islands. Other maps were created using temporary solutions of stones or shells. (Etnografiska museet 1221589, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

The stick chart

The Polynesian peoples, who explored and settled the Pacific islands in the first two millenniums AD, used maps to navigate across large distances. A map from the Marshall Islands used sticks tied in a grid with palm strips representing wave and wind patterns, with shells attached to show the location of islands. Other maps were created using temporary solutions of stones or shells. (Etnografiska museet 1221589, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.5/)

Portolan charts

This is a Portolan chart of the Black Sea. Portolan or portulan charts are navigational maps based on compass directions and estimated distances observed by the pilots at sea. They were first made in the 13th century in Italy, and later in Spain and Portugal, with later 15th and 16th century charts noted for their cartographic accuracy. With the advent of widespread competition among seagoing nations during the 15th and 16th century, Portugal and Spain considered such maps state secrets. Portolan maps all share the characteristic rhumbline networks, which emanate out from compass roses located at various points on the map. These "windrose lines" are generated by observation and a compass, and designate lines of bearing (not to be confused with modern rhumb lines and meridians). To understand that those lines should better be called "windrose lines", it is important to know that portolan maps are characterized by the lack of map projection, because cartometric investigation has revealed that no projection was used in portolans, and those straight lines could be loxodromes only if the chart was drawn on a suitable projection. (The British Library E070927, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Portolan charts

This is a Portolan chart of the Black Sea. Portolan or portulan charts are navigational maps based on compass directions and estimated distances observed by the pilots at sea. They were first made in the 13th century in Italy, and later in Spain and Portugal, with later 15th and 16th century charts noted for their cartographic accuracy. With the advent of widespread competition among seagoing nations during the 15th and 16th century, Portugal and Spain considered such maps state secrets. Portolan maps all share the characteristic rhumbline networks, which emanate out from compass roses located at various points on the map. These "windrose lines" are generated by observation and a compass, and designate lines of bearing (not to be confused with modern rhumb lines and meridians). To understand that those lines should better be called "windrose lines", it is important to know that portolan maps are characterized by the lack of map projection, because cartometric investigation has revealed that no projection was used in portolans, and those straight lines could be loxodromes only if the chart was drawn on a suitable projection. (The British Library E070927, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Majorcan cartographic school

The Majorcan cartographic school is the term used by historians to refer to the collection of predominantly Jewish cartographers, cosmographers and navigational instrument-makers and some Christian associates that flourished in Majorca in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries until the expulsion of the Jews. Both Italian and Majorcan portolan charts focus on the same geographic area, sometimes called the "Normal Portolan": the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean coasts up to the environs of Flanders - the area frequently travelled by contemporary Mediterranean merchants and sailors. As time and knowledge progressed, some cartographers would stretch the geographic boundaries of the normal portolan to include a larger part of the Atlantic ocean, including many real or mythical Atlantic islands. Among the quintessential features replicated in almost all Majorcan charts are scattered notes and labels in Catalan, the Red Sea painted red, the Atlas Mountains depicted as a palm tree, the Alps as a chicken's foot, the Tagus as a shepherd's crook, with the curve wrapping around Toledo, the Danube as a chain of links or hillocks, Bohemia as a horseshoe, the Canary island of Lanzarote colored with a Genoese shield (red cross on white), the island of Rhodes also colored with a shield with a cross, the striped shield of the Crown of Aragon replicated as often as possible, including, covering the island of Majorca itself, a compass appearing somewhere on the map, with the Pole Star set on the north. (Gabriel de Vallseca, Biblioteca de Catalunya, Ms. S.n. (en dipòsit al Museu Marítim), Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Majorcan cartographic school

The Majorcan cartographic school is the term used by historians to refer to the collection of predominantly Jewish cartographers, cosmographers and navigational instrument-makers and some Christian associates that flourished in Majorca in the 13th, 14th and 15th centuries until the expulsion of the Jews. Both Italian and Majorcan portolan charts focus on the same geographic area, sometimes called the "Normal Portolan": the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and the Atlantic Ocean coasts up to the environs of Flanders - the area frequently travelled by contemporary Mediterranean merchants and sailors. As time and knowledge progressed, some cartographers would stretch the geographic boundaries of the normal portolan to include a larger part of the Atlantic ocean, including many real or mythical Atlantic islands. Among the quintessential features replicated in almost all Majorcan charts are scattered notes and labels in Catalan, the Red Sea painted red, the Atlas Mountains depicted as a palm tree, the Alps as a chicken's foot, the Tagus as a shepherd's crook, with the curve wrapping around Toledo, the Danube as a chain of links or hillocks, Bohemia as a horseshoe, the Canary island of Lanzarote colored with a Genoese shield (red cross on white), the island of Rhodes also colored with a shield with a cross, the striped shield of the Crown of Aragon replicated as often as possible, including, covering the island of Majorca itself, a compass appearing somewhere on the map, with the Pole Star set on the north. (Gabriel de Vallseca, Biblioteca de Catalunya, Ms. S.n. (en dipòsit al Museu Marítim), Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Iberian cartography

This is a map of the southern part of Africa. Cartography throughout the 14th-16th centuries played a significant role in the expansion of Iberia for multiple reasons. Primarily, the maps that were created during this period served as navigational tools for explorers, sailors and navigators. They used to make travel easier by eliminating the unnecessary resources spent when the most efficient route was not taken, and after aspects like wind patterns, latitude and longitude began to appear on maps, they made maritime activities such as exploration or conquest less time- and resource-consuming. Maps were also used as a method to map landmasses in areas that had yet to be explored or did not have many documented statistics. This was often the case in the Americas, where the Iberian empires did not start off with much documented evidence of the landmasses. (Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico, oai:bvpb.mcu.es:441530, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Iberian cartography

This is a map of the southern part of Africa. Cartography throughout the 14th-16th centuries played a significant role in the expansion of Iberia for multiple reasons. Primarily, the maps that were created during this period served as navigational tools for explorers, sailors and navigators. They used to make travel easier by eliminating the unnecessary resources spent when the most efficient route was not taken, and after aspects like wind patterns, latitude and longitude began to appear on maps, they made maritime activities such as exploration or conquest less time- and resource-consuming. Maps were also used as a method to map landmasses in areas that had yet to be explored or did not have many documented statistics. This was often the case in the Americas, where the Iberian empires did not start off with much documented evidence of the landmasses. (Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico, oai:bvpb.mcu.es:441530, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The Americas and latitudes

The left corner of this map by Pedro Reinel shows parts of Canada. The Spanish cartographer and explorer Juan de la Cosa sailed with Christopher Columbus. He created the first known cartographic representations showing both the Americas as well as Africa and Eurasia. Pedro Reinel (1462 - 1542) was a Portuguese cartographer, author of one of the oldest signed Portuguese nautical charts (1485). This is a portolan type of chart, covering western Europe and part of Africa, and already reflecting the explorations made by Diogo Cão in 1482-1485. With his son Jorge Reinel (c. 1502 - c. 1572) and the cartographer Lopo Homem, he participated in the construction of the well-known Miller Atlas (1519). His Atlantic Chart of c. 1504 (see image) is the earliest known nautical chart with a scale of latitudes, and the first to depict a wind rose with a clearly drawn fleur-de-lys. (Bavarian State Library BDR-BV021547950-61691, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The Americas and latitudes

The left corner of this map by Pedro Reinel shows parts of Canada. The Spanish cartographer and explorer Juan de la Cosa sailed with Christopher Columbus. He created the first known cartographic representations showing both the Americas as well as Africa and Eurasia. Pedro Reinel (1462 - 1542) was a Portuguese cartographer, author of one of the oldest signed Portuguese nautical charts (1485). This is a portolan type of chart, covering western Europe and part of Africa, and already reflecting the explorations made by Diogo Cão in 1482-1485. With his son Jorge Reinel (c. 1502 - c. 1572) and the cartographer Lopo Homem, he participated in the construction of the well-known Miller Atlas (1519). His Atlantic Chart of c. 1504 (see image) is the earliest known nautical chart with a scale of latitudes, and the first to depict a wind rose with a clearly drawn fleur-de-lys. (Bavarian State Library BDR-BV021547950-61691, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The world may be round, the map is not

This globe is a model (1902) of a famous globe from 1492 from Martin Behaim. The Americas are still missing. Putting the map on a globe is extremely difficult but more correct then maps. Putting the world on a map will always result in disproportions of landmass. On this globe, Greenland and the Arabic peninsula are both the same size. But on most maps, Greenland is bigger. This globe was the start of a tradition that offered a solution to the difficulties of creating a map. However, it is not easy to carry a globe with you. (Royal Museums Greenwich 19939 GLB0253 G.84 D7957 F2136, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The world may be round, the map is not

This globe is a model (1902) of a famous globe from 1492 from Martin Behaim. The Americas are still missing. Putting the map on a globe is extremely difficult but more correct then maps. Putting the world on a map will always result in disproportions of landmass. On this globe, Greenland and the Arabic peninsula are both the same size. But on most maps, Greenland is bigger. This globe was the start of a tradition that offered a solution to the difficulties of creating a map. However, it is not easy to carry a globe with you. (Royal Museums Greenwich 19939 GLB0253 G.84 D7957 F2136, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Netherlandish cartographic schools

This is a map of the Island of Borneo (in today’s Indonesia) by Joan Blaeu. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Dutch-speaking cartographers' publications are remarkable milestones in the history of cartography, the extant editions are not only valuable sources of contemporary geographic knowledge, but also fine works of art. The Dutch-Frisian geographer and mathematician Gemma Frisius was the first to propose using a chronometer to determine longitude in 1530. In his book On the Principles of Astronomy and Cosmography (1530), Frisius explains for the first time how to use a very accurate clock to determine longitude. The Flemish geographer and cartographer Abraham Ortelius is generally recognised as the creator of the world's first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). The Dutch cartographer Jacob van Deventer was among the first to make systematic use of triangulation, a theory of technique that was described by Gemma Frisius in his 1533 book. The modern systematic use of triangulation networks stems from the work of the Dutch mathematician Willebrord Snell (born Willebrord Snel van Royen), who in 1615 surveyed the distance from Alkmaar to Bergen op Zoom, approximately 70 miles (110 kilometres), using a chain of quadrangles containing 33 triangles in all. (National Library of Portugal 477697, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Netherlandish cartographic schools

This is a map of the Island of Borneo (in today’s Indonesia) by Joan Blaeu. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the Dutch-speaking cartographers' publications are remarkable milestones in the history of cartography, the extant editions are not only valuable sources of contemporary geographic knowledge, but also fine works of art. The Dutch-Frisian geographer and mathematician Gemma Frisius was the first to propose using a chronometer to determine longitude in 1530. In his book On the Principles of Astronomy and Cosmography (1530), Frisius explains for the first time how to use a very accurate clock to determine longitude. The Flemish geographer and cartographer Abraham Ortelius is generally recognised as the creator of the world's first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). The Dutch cartographer Jacob van Deventer was among the first to make systematic use of triangulation, a theory of technique that was described by Gemma Frisius in his 1533 book. The modern systematic use of triangulation networks stems from the work of the Dutch mathematician Willebrord Snell (born Willebrord Snel van Royen), who in 1615 surveyed the distance from Alkmaar to Bergen op Zoom, approximately 70 miles (110 kilometres), using a chain of quadrangles containing 33 triangles in all. (National Library of Portugal 477697, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Gerardus Mercator

On this map by Mercator, the eastern part of the Netherlands is depicted. Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594) was a Flemish cartographer who invented a new projection, called the Mercator projection. The projection was based on mathematics and the Mercator maps gave much more accurate maps for world-wide navigation than any until that date. As in all cylindrical projections, parallels and meridians are straight and perpendicular to each other. To accomplish this, the unavoidable east-west stretching of the map, is accompanied by a corresponding north-south stretching, so that at every point, the east-west scale is the same as the north-south scale, making the projection conformal. The development of the Mercator projection represented a major breakthrough in the nautical cartography of the 16th century. However, it was much ahead of its time, because the old navigational and surveying techniques were not compatible with its use in navigation. The Mercator projection would over time become the conventional view of the world that we are accustomed to today. Mercator was the first to use the word atlas to describe a bound collection of maps. He named his creation after the Greek god who carried the earth in his arms. (Stedelijk Museum Zutphen 0250-P 00175, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Gerardus Mercator

On this map by Mercator, the eastern part of the Netherlands is depicted. Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594) was a Flemish cartographer who invented a new projection, called the Mercator projection. The projection was based on mathematics and the Mercator maps gave much more accurate maps for world-wide navigation than any until that date. As in all cylindrical projections, parallels and meridians are straight and perpendicular to each other. To accomplish this, the unavoidable east-west stretching of the map, is accompanied by a corresponding north-south stretching, so that at every point, the east-west scale is the same as the north-south scale, making the projection conformal. The development of the Mercator projection represented a major breakthrough in the nautical cartography of the 16th century. However, it was much ahead of its time, because the old navigational and surveying techniques were not compatible with its use in navigation. The Mercator projection would over time become the conventional view of the world that we are accustomed to today. Mercator was the first to use the word atlas to describe a bound collection of maps. He named his creation after the Greek god who carried the earth in his arms. (Stedelijk Museum Zutphen 0250-P 00175, CC BY http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Maps used by the army

This is a map by Matthäus Seutter (1730). Maps appeared to be useful for building artillery and fortresses. The Vertical Perspective projection was first used by the German map publisher Matthias Seutter in 1740. He placed his observer at approximately 12,750 km distance. This is the type of projection used today by Google Earth. The final form of the equidistant conic projection was constructed by the French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle in 1745. Projection is used most often in maps of regions elongated east-to-west (such as the continental United States), with the standard parallels chosen to be around a sixth of the way within the northern and southern limits. This way distortion is minimized. The Swiss mathematician Johann Lambert invented several hemisperic map projections. The Albers equal-area conic projection features no distortion along standard parallels. It was invented by Heinrich Albers in 1805. In the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries, explorers mapped trails and army engineers mapped government lands. (SMB-digital, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Maps used by the army

This is a map by Matthäus Seutter (1730). Maps appeared to be useful for building artillery and fortresses. The Vertical Perspective projection was first used by the German map publisher Matthias Seutter in 1740. He placed his observer at approximately 12,750 km distance. This is the type of projection used today by Google Earth. The final form of the equidistant conic projection was constructed by the French astronomer Joseph-Nicolas Delisle in 1745. Projection is used most often in maps of regions elongated east-to-west (such as the continental United States), with the standard parallels chosen to be around a sixth of the way within the northern and southern limits. This way distortion is minimized. The Swiss mathematician Johann Lambert invented several hemisperic map projections. The Albers equal-area conic projection features no distortion along standard parallels. It was invented by Heinrich Albers in 1805. In the United States in the 17th and 18th centuries, explorers mapped trails and army engineers mapped government lands. (SMB-digital, CC BY-NC-SA, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/)

Alexander von Humboldt

During his travels in Spanish America (1799–1804), Alexander von Humboldt created the most accurate map of New Spain (now Mexico) up to date. Governments became very interested in maps. On this painting, Von Humboldt is sitting near a desk with a map of the world behind him on the wall. It is a map by John Distrunell that was used in 1847 during the negotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican–American War. The Greenwich prime meridian became the international standard reference for cartographers in 1884. Today, however, non-European countries from the America or Asia, use a world map with their continent in the middle. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek - Austrian National Library, http://www.bildarchivaustria.at/Preview/7561950.jpg, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

Alexander von Humboldt

During his travels in Spanish America (1799–1804), Alexander von Humboldt created the most accurate map of New Spain (now Mexico) up to date. Governments became very interested in maps. On this painting, Von Humboldt is sitting near a desk with a map of the world behind him on the wall. It is a map by John Distrunell that was used in 1847 during the negotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican–American War. The Greenwich prime meridian became the international standard reference for cartographers in 1884. Today, however, non-European countries from the America or Asia, use a world map with their continent in the middle. Österreichische Nationalbibliothek - Austrian National Library, http://www.bildarchivaustria.at/Preview/7561950.jpg, Public Domain Marked, http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/

The International Meridian Conference

In the early eighteenth century the challenge for cartographers was to improve the determination of longitude at sea, which lead to the development of the chronometer by John Harrison. But it was the development of accurate star charts principally by the first British Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, between 1680 and 1719 and disseminated by his successor, Edmund Halley, that enabled navigators to use the lunar method of determining longitude more accurately using the octant developed by Thomas Godfrey and John Hadley. In 1884, at the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. (Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin in der Universitätsbibliothek local (default) F 8253 Obj. Id 160389 [Metadata], CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The International Meridian Conference

In the early eighteenth century the challenge for cartographers was to improve the determination of longitude at sea, which lead to the development of the chronometer by John Harrison. But it was the development of accurate star charts principally by the first British Astronomer Royal, John Flamsteed, between 1680 and 1719 and disseminated by his successor, Edmund Halley, that enabled navigators to use the lunar method of determining longitude more accurately using the octant developed by Thomas Godfrey and John Hadley. In 1884, at the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C., 22 countries voted to adopt the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. The French argued for a neutral line, mentioning the Azores and the Bering Strait but eventually abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911. (Architekturmuseum der Technischen Universität Berlin in der Universitätsbibliothek local (default) F 8253 Obj. Id 160389 [Metadata], CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

The influence of aviation

This is a map of Puerto de Huelva in the south of Spain. During the 20th century, maps became more abundant due to improvements in printing and photography that made production cheaper and easier. Airplanes made it possible to photograph large areas at a time. Two-Point Equidistant projection was first drawn up by Hans Maurer in 1919. In this projection the distance from any point on the map to either of the two regulating points is accurate. The loximuthal projection was constructed by Karl Siemon in 1935 and refined by Waldo Tobler in 1966. It is characterized by the fact that loxodromes (rhumb lines) from one chosen central point (the intersection of the central meridian and central latitude) are shown straight lines, correct in azimuth from the center, and are "true to scale" in the sense that distances measured along such lines are proportional to lengths of the corresponding rhumb lines on the surface of the earth. Since the mid-1990s, the use of computers in mapmaking has helped to store, sort, and arrange data for mapping in order to create map projections. (Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico 463199, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

The influence of aviation

This is a map of Puerto de Huelva in the south of Spain. During the 20th century, maps became more abundant due to improvements in printing and photography that made production cheaper and easier. Airplanes made it possible to photograph large areas at a time. Two-Point Equidistant projection was first drawn up by Hans Maurer in 1919. In this projection the distance from any point on the map to either of the two regulating points is accurate. The loximuthal projection was constructed by Karl Siemon in 1935 and refined by Waldo Tobler in 1966. It is characterized by the fact that loxodromes (rhumb lines) from one chosen central point (the intersection of the central meridian and central latitude) are shown straight lines, correct in azimuth from the center, and are "true to scale" in the sense that distances measured along such lines are proportional to lengths of the corresponding rhumb lines on the surface of the earth. Since the mid-1990s, the use of computers in mapmaking has helped to store, sort, and arrange data for mapping in order to create map projections. (Biblioteca Virtual del Patrimonio Bibliográfico 463199, Public Domain Marked http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/)

Eye in the sky

The hills of Tara are among the best known ‘royal’ sites of Ireland. Thanks to satellites we can see a lot of details. This is also very helpful by making maps. Satellite imagery consists of images of the earth or other planets collected by satellites. Satellites are operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite companies sell images under licence. The images are licensed to governments and businesses such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. The first images from space were taken on sub-orbital flights. The U.S launched a V-2 flight on October 24 1946, that took one image every 1.5 seconds. With an apogee of 65 miles (105 km), these photos were made from around five times higher than the previous record, the 13.7 miles (22 km) by the Explorer II balloon mission in 1935. The first satellite photographs of Earth were made on August 14 1959, by the U.S. Explorer 6. (The Discovery Programme HA/111, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Eye in the sky

The hills of Tara are among the best known ‘royal’ sites of Ireland. Thanks to satellites we can see a lot of details. This is also very helpful by making maps. Satellite imagery consists of images of the earth or other planets collected by satellites. Satellites are operated by governments and businesses around the world. Satellite companies sell images under licence. The images are licensed to governments and businesses such as Apple Maps and Google Maps. The first images from space were taken on sub-orbital flights. The U.S launched a V-2 flight on October 24 1946, that took one image every 1.5 seconds. With an apogee of 65 miles (105 km), these photos were made from around five times higher than the previous record, the 13.7 miles (22 km) by the Explorer II balloon mission in 1935. The first satellite photographs of Earth were made on August 14 1959, by the U.S. Explorer 6. (The Discovery Programme HA/111, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Computers

In the 20th century, aerial photography, satellite imagery, and remote sensing provided efficient, precise methods for mapping physical features, such as coastlines, roads, buildings, watersheds, and topography. Advancements in electronic technology paved the way for another revolution in cartography. The availability of computers and peripherals such as monitors, plotters, printers, scanners (remote and document) and analytic stereo plotters, along with computer programs for visualization, image processing, spatial analysis, and database management, democratized and greatly expanded the making of maps. The ability to superimpose located variables from spatial information onto existing maps created new uses for maps and new industries to explore and exploit these potentials. (The Wellcome Library B0006157, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Computers

In the 20th century, aerial photography, satellite imagery, and remote sensing provided efficient, precise methods for mapping physical features, such as coastlines, roads, buildings, watersheds, and topography. Advancements in electronic technology paved the way for another revolution in cartography. The availability of computers and peripherals such as monitors, plotters, printers, scanners (remote and document) and analytic stereo plotters, along with computer programs for visualization, image processing, spatial analysis, and database management, democratized and greatly expanded the making of maps. The ability to superimpose located variables from spatial information onto existing maps created new uses for maps and new industries to explore and exploit these potentials. (The Wellcome Library B0006157, CC BY-NC-ND http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)

Software

These days most commercial-quality maps are made using software that falls into one of three main types: CAD, GIS and specialised illustration software. Spatial information can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted on demand. These tools lead to increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally. With the field rugged computers, GPS and laser rangefinders, it is possible to perform mapping directly in the terrain. (Royal Museums Greenwich 258758 NAV1805, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Software

These days most commercial-quality maps are made using software that falls into one of three main types: CAD, GIS and specialised illustration software. Spatial information can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted on demand. These tools lead to increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally. With the field rugged computers, GPS and laser rangefinders, it is possible to perform mapping directly in the terrain. (Royal Museums Greenwich 258758 NAV1805, CC BY-NC-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/)

Eurocentrism in maps

This is a map created during the First World War(1914-1918). It is an example that very often, mapmakers make sure they show what they think is important and leave out what is not, in their point of view. It was the Europeans who promoted an epistemological understanding of the map as early as the 17th century. A common belief is that science heads in a direction of progress, and thus leads to more accurate representations of maps. However, this view should be analysed critically. According to deconstructionist models, cartography was used for strategic purposes associated with imperialism and as instruments and representations of power. (Europeana 1914-1918, 45708 3796, CC BY-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

Eurocentrism in maps

This is a map created during the First World War(1914-1918). It is an example that very often, mapmakers make sure they show what they think is important and leave out what is not, in their point of view. It was the Europeans who promoted an epistemological understanding of the map as early as the 17th century. A common belief is that science heads in a direction of progress, and thus leads to more accurate representations of maps. However, this view should be analysed critically. According to deconstructionist models, cartography was used for strategic purposes associated with imperialism and as instruments and representations of power. (Europeana 1914-1918, 45708 3796, CC BY-SA http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)