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Evolution of the World Map. A Antiquity. B Middle Ages. C Age of Discovery. D Modern Era ... Creation of the first accurate world maps. Central America, 1514 ...

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evolution of the world map

Joseph Naumann -- UMSL

Evolution of the World Map

A – Antiquity

B – Middle Ages

C – Age of Discovery

D – Modern Era

  • 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).


  • Aristotle (circa 350 BC)
    • Considered physical elements such as the temperature and winds as factors of the human habitat.
    • Division of the world in 3 climatic zones.
    • Relationships between the environment (temperature) and human habitat.
    • One of the first physical geographer.




  • 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).
  • 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.
middle ages
Middle Ages
  • Period of decline
    • The cartographic and regional approach was lost in Europe.
    • Representation of the world was “Christianized”.
    • Orthodoxy replaced objective observation and analysis.
    • “T and O” Maps.
    • Greek and Roman knowledge kept by the Byzantine Empire and by the Arabs.
age of discovery
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.
modern era
Modern Era
  • A complete world map
    • Early 20th century.
    • Complete and accurate view of the world.
    • Coordinate systems.
    • National inventories of resources.
  • Information technologies
    • Use of remote sensing (aerial photographs and remote sensing).
    • G.I.S. & Digital maps.
problem of distortion
Problem of Distortion
  • All maps, by their very nature contain some type of distortion.
    • Converting a 3-dimensional spherical surface to a 2-dimensional “flat” surface.
essentials of a good map
Essentials of a good map
  • Title – view knows what to expect
  • Grid – allows for easy, accurate locating
  • Direction arrow or compass rose – to orient the map to reality
  • Scale – to allow one to relate distances on the map to the actual distances on the earth.
  • Key or Legend – so the viewer can understand what the symbols and colors represent.