Evolution of the World Map A – Antiquity B – Middle Ages

GEOG 1 – World Regional Geography
Professor: Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Evolution of the World Map
A – Antiquity
B – Middle Ages
C – Age of Discovery
D – Modern Era
Hofstra University, Department of Global Studies & Geography
■ Herodotus (circa 450 BC)
Inspired by Pythagoras (530 BC) and his geometry.
Father of geography.
Basic physical and human geography.
Exploration and travel instead of geometry.
Coined the terms Europe, Asia and Africa (Libya).
Trade route
“Terra incognita”
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Herodotus (450 B.C.) (recreation)
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
■ Aristotle (circa 350 BC)
• Considered physical elements
such as the temperature and
winds as factors of the human
• Division of the world in 3 climatic
• Relationships between the
environment (temperature) and
human habitat.
• One of the first physical
• Judged impossible to cross to
torrid equatorial zone and reach
the antipodes.
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
■ Eratosthenes (circa 250 BC)
Formally assumed the earth was round.
Calculated the circumference of the earth.
40,572 km versus the exact figure of 40,091 km.
Developed the concepts of parallel and meridian.
Consequently introduced the concept of geographical location.
Created modern cartography (cartographic plane).
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Eratosthenes (194 B.C.) (reconstruction)
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
■ Ptolemy (circa 150 AD)
Refined the coordinate system.
Inventory of population and resources.
Describing the world.
8,000 entries.
Relationships between the physical and human elements.
Created map projections.
His map would remain the most accurate until the age of
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Ptolemy's (150 AD) Ulm edition world map, 1482
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Middle Ages
■ Period of decline
• Cartographic and regional
approach was lost in Europe:
• Representation of the world
was “Christianized”.
• Orthodoxy replaced objective
observation and analysis.
• “T and O” Maps (Orbis
• T is the Mediterranean (+ Nile
and Black Sea).
• O is the surrounding ocean.
• Greek and Roman knowledge
kept by the Byzantine Empire
and by the Arabs.
T-O map from the Etymologiae of Isidorus, 12th Century
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
St. Sever World Map after Beatus, 1030 AD
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Age of Discovery
■ Exploration and innovation
• The 15th and 16th centuries were characterized by numerous
maritime explorations.
• A commercial expansion of European nations.
• Several technical innovations:
• The compass, more precise maps.
• Larger ships (they passed from 200 to 600 tons during the sixteenth
century), better ship structures and the rudder.
• Insure a safe, fast and therefore profitable maritime navigation.
• Creation of the first accurate world maps.
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
The Americas, 16th Century
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
World Map, circa 1700
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Modern Era
■ A complete world map
Early 20th century.
Complete and accurate view of the world.
Coordinate systems.
National inventories of resources.
Widely available atlases.
■ Information technologies
• Use of remote sensing (aerial photographs and remote sensing).
• Digital maps.
• Mass diffusion through online accessibility.
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
Satellite Composite Image
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue
A Virtually Navigable World
© Dr. Jean-Paul Rodrigue