What is Cartography and how was the first map come to the modern World?

From the evolution of humankind in the age of exploration, cartography has been an integral part of the human history. The word cartography is a combination of two word ‘carta’ which means map and ‘graphy’ that is something written or represented in the specified manner, or about a specified subject. Hence, we can say it is an art, technique, or practice of compiling or drawing maps or charts. Read the complete chronology of map-drawing (Cartography) techniques from the ancient world to the modern world.

Chronology of map-making (Cartography) from ancient to modern world

  1. The art of map drawing came into existence when human discovered the cave painting on the walls of the Lascaux cave that depicted stars. Then, this gets more relevance when a dot map of the Corona Borealis constellation dating of 12,000 BC found at the Cuevas de El Castillo in Spain.
  2. Over the passes of time, ancient picture that resembles more or less to the modern map which was created in the late 7th millennium BC was found in Çatalhoyuk, Anatolia (Modern Turkey). But some scholars have not identified as a map.
  3. The real map drawing was started in ancient Babylonia, where maps are drawn with accurate surveying techniques. The earliest surviving map of the world (600 BC) is the Babylonian World Map which is a symbol, not a literal representation.

4. In earlier civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt, map drawing added new flavour of geometry and surveying.

5. The cartography had been changed a little bit in the era of the Greek where a map of the Roman world created and called “The Old World”. It was designed by Claudius Ptolemaus that rule in the areas of mapping for the next 1400 years.

6. Around 550–475 BC, Hecataeus of Miletus designed a new map and claimed that it was accurate and improved version previous map. He describes that the Earth as a circular plate and Greece was situated in the centre. He was the first man who opines that the Caspian flows into Circumference Ocean. He is considered as the ‘Father of Geography’.

7. Anaximenes of Miletus in the 6th century BC rejected Hecataeus thought of circular plate of the Earth and propounded that the Earth as a rectangular form supported by compressed air. He was the first to draw maps and regarded as the first “cartographer”.

8. The theory of Pythagoras of Samos given revolution in the cartography because he propounded that the Earth is spherical with a centre fire at its core.

9. Eratosthenes (275–195 BC was the first who tried to calculate the length of the equator and to calculate the circumference of the Earth. Hence, he is considered as the ‘Father of Geodesy’.

10. Aristotle (384–322 BC) was the first thinker who wrote about the shape of the Earth as being spherical on the basis of reasoning.

11. Roman geographer Strabo (64–36 AD) considered the Earth to be oblong.

12. The 18th century was considered as the revolutionary phase in cartography because the vertical perspective projection was used for the first time by German map publisher Matthias Seutter in 1740 AD. The projection was similar as projected by the modern day Google Earth.

13. The 20th century witnesses the accuracy of mapping because in this era printing and photography were more improved than earlier days. In 1919, Hans Maurer was drawn first two-point equidistant projection.

The techniques of cartography evolve continuously with the development of technology to meet the demands of map-maker and users. For example- first map was drawn to help of brushes and parchment, but after the advent of the printing press, compass, telescope, sextant, quadrant and vernier allowed for the creation of far more accurate maps and the ability to make accurate reproductions.