History of Map Making

A map is a scale model or graphic representation of spatial concepts. Maps are the universal means of communication. The art of map making is known as cartography. This art involves aesthetics, combining science and technique, focusing on the premise that spatial information can be communicated effectively through ways that model the reality. Maps have been created to help man navigate easily throughout the world. Initially, maps were two dimensional but slowly the three-dimensional feature was introduced and this is evidenced by globes.

The first man known to have come up with a map was Anaximander. He drew the first map of the world in 6 BC, assuming that the shape of the earth was cylindrical in nature. On the other hand, the first person to draw a map assuming that the earth was spherical in nature was Eratosthenes.

Various types of maps include:

· Topographical maps

· General reference maps

· Navigation charts

· Thematic maps

· Cadastral maps


The early maps came to be about 5000 years ago. They generally depicted smaller areas as compared to the modern map. They were also pictorial in nature such that the traveler would record them as he went along his journey. However, the information pertaining to the map was not always accurate in relation to the earth. For one, features found at the edge of the map were not as detailed as those found in the center of the map.


During this period, most of the maps were being produced within monasteries and as a result, religious zeal dominated most of the mapping. Examples of such religious developments include:

· Jerusalem was put right in the middle of the world map.

· The maps were greatly decorated with imaginary monsters and angels.


At this stage, quite a number of changes significantly affected mapping:

· The Americas were discovered and so this brought about the need for an expansion of the maps.

· In 1440 Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. As a result of the monasteries no longer has=d the domination over map making.

· There was an increment in public learning and this brought about the thirst for knowledge. As a result, the French Academy of Science was established in 1666 whereby the scientific research took place including the improvement of map making and navigation charting.

· There was a steady growth in the number of publishing houses, and they all produced maps which were now available for every citizen and not just the wealthy elite.

All the above factors significantly contributed to the expansion of geographical knowledge. Earlier on, all maps were a mere black and white but in the late 1700s, a theme seemed to emerge. Such themes were used to mark specific places, for example, a place where a contagious disease was widely spread.


Nowadays, through the help of surveying techniques and satellite systems, cartographers are able to come up with up to scale maps of not only high precision but also consistency. Consequently, maps have definitely become critical to many fields of our endeavors.



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