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The significance of maps - and much of their meaning in the past - derives from the fact that people make them to tell other people about the places or space they have experienced.
A series of maps of one region, arranged in chronological order, can show vividly how it was discovered, explored by travelers and described in detail; this may be seen in facsimile atlases like those of America (K.
Comparing these early notions, as to the shape and extent of the habitable world, with the later ideas which limited the habitable portion of the globe to the equatorial regions, we may surmise how it came to pass that islands--to say nothing of continents which could not be represented for want of space - belonging to the southern hemisphere were set down as belonging to the northern hemisphere. We have no positive proof of this having been done at a very early period, as the earlier globes and maps have all disappeared; but we may safely conjecture as much, judging from copies that have been handed down.
The description is sufficiently clear, and there is no mistaking its general sense, the only point that needs elucidation being that which refers to the position of the earth or globe as viewed by the spectator.
In spite of these speculations, however, Greek cartography might have remained largely the province of philosophy had it not been for a vigorous and parallel growth of empirical knowledge. The importance of the Hellenistic Period in the history of ancient world cartography, however, has been clearly established. An ancient wooden map discovered by Chinese archaeologists in northwest China's Gansu Province has been confirmed as the country's oldest one at an age of more than 2,200. Whoever sets out to write on the history of geography in China faces a quandary, however, for while it is indispensable to give the reader some appreciation of the immense mass of literature which Chinese scholars have produced on the subject, it is necessary to avoid the tedium of listing names of authors and books, some of which indeed have long been lost. NASA scientists working with the World Wildlife Fund and others have measured how much of Earth's plant life humans need for food, fiber, wood and fuel. Satellite measurements were fed into computer models to calculate the annual net primary production (NPP) of plant growth on land. By understanding patterns of consumption, and how the planetary supply of plant life relates to the demand for it, these results may enable better management of Earth's rich biological heritage. Indeed, much of its universal appeal is that the simpler types of map can be read and interpreted with only a little training. There are reasons to believe however, apart from the evidence we gather in the Poems, that these abyssal regions were supposed or believed to be situated around the North Pole. The Phoenician reports referred to came most likely therefore, not so much from the north, as from these regions which, tradition tells us (Fra Mauro’s mappamundi #249), were situated propinqua ale tenebre. To appreciate how this period laid the foundations for the developments of the ensuing Hellenistic Period, it is necessary to draw on a wide range of Greek writings containing references to maps.
With respect to the latter, we can see how Greek cartography started to be influenced by a new infrastructure for learning that had a profound effect on the growth of formalized knowledge in general.


Researcher He said that the map, drawn in black on four pine wood plates of almost the same size, had clear and complete graphics depicting the administrative division, a general picture of local geography and the economic situation in Guixian County in the Warring States era. Regionally, the amount of plant-based material used varied greatly compared to how much was locally grown. The study finds that people in some urban areas with very high population densities need 300 times more plant-derived resources, or net primary production (NPP), than the local area produces. From earliest times much of the area covered by the annual Nile floods had, upon their retreat, to be re-surveyed in order to establish the exact boundaries of properties. Yet Ptolemy, as much through the accidental survival and transmission of his texts when so many others perished as through his comprehensive approach to mapping, does nevertheless stride like a colossus over the cartographic knowledge of the later Greco-Roman world and the Renaissance.
Pilgrims from distant lands obviously needed itineraries like that starting at Bordeaux, giving fairly simple instructions. Thus in the Ta Tai Li Chi, Tseng Shen, replying to the questions of Shanchu Li, admits that it was very hard to see how, on the orthodox view, the four comers of the earth could be properly covered. Calculations of domesticated animal consumption were made based on plant-life required to support them. Plant growth may be measured in terms of grams of carbon used to build stems, leaves and roots. We find that the Greek geographer Strabo gives us quite a definite word concerning their value and their construction, and that Ptolemy is so definite in his references to them as to lead to a belief that globes were by no means uncommon instruments in his day, and that they were regarded of much value in the study of geography and astronomy, particularly of the latter science. With stress laid, during the many centuries succeeding, upon matters pertaining to the religious life, there naturally was less concern than there had been in the humanistic days of classical antiquity as to whether the earth is spherical in form, or flat like a circular disc, nor was it thought to matter much as to the form of the heavens.
Before taking up these interesting comparisons, however, it is necessary to say something about the geographical classics and treatises of China through the centuries. However, the measurement of circular and triangular plots was envisaged: advice on this, and plans, are given in the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus of ca.
There is, however, but one example known, which has come down to us from that ancient day, this a celestial globe, briefly described as the Farnese globe.
Here however he makes his hero confess that he is wholly out of his bearings, and cannot well say where the sun is to set or to rise (Od.
However, the maps of Marinus and Ptolemy, one of the latter containing thousands of place-names, were at least partly known to Arabic geographers of the ninth to the 10th century. With translation of the text of the Geography into Latin in the early 15th century, however, the influence of Ptolemy was to structure European cartography directly for over a century.


It would be wrong to over emphasize, as so much of the topographical literature has tended to do, a catalog of Ptolemy’s “errors”: what is vital for the cartographic historian is that his texts were the carriers of the idea of celestial and terrestrial mapping long after the factual content of the coordinates had been made obsolete through new discoveries and exploration.
Similarly, in the towns, although only the Forma Urbis Romae is known to us in detail, large-scale maps were recognized as practical tools recording the lines of public utilities such as aqueducts, displaying the size and shape of imperial and religious buildings, and indicating the layout of streets and private property.
It has been shown how these could have appealed to the imagination not only of an educated minority, for whom they sometimes became the subject of careful scholarly commentary, but also of a wider Greek public that was already learning to think about the world in a physical and social sense through the medium of maps. Indeed, we can see how the conditions of Roman expansion positively favored the growth and applications of cartography in both a theoretical and a practical sense. Here, however, though such a unity existed, the discussion is focused primarily on the cartographic contributions of Ptolemy, writing in Greek within the institutions of Roman society.
It had been the subject of comment by Plato, while Aristotle had quoted a figure for the circumference of the earth from “the mathematicians” at 400,000 stades; he does not explain how he arrived at this figure, which may have been Eudoxus’ estimate.
Ptolemy owed much to Roman sources of information and to the extension of geographical knowledge under this growing empire: yet he represents a culmination as well as a final synthesis of the scientific tradition in Greek cartography that has been highlighted in this introduction. The celestial globe had reinforced the belief in a spherical and finite universe such as Aristotle had described; the drawing of a circular horizon, however, from a point of observation, might have perpetuated the idea that the inhabited world was circular, as might also the drawing of a sphere on a flat surface. The maps of early man, which pre-date other forms of written communication, were attempts to depict earth distributions graphically in order to better visualize them; like those of primitive peoples, the earliest maps served specific functional or practical needs. What is certainly different is the place and prominence of maps in prehistoric times as compared with historical times, an aspect associated with much wider issues of the social organization, values, and philosophies of two very different types of cultures, the oral and the literate. There was, however, evidently no consensus between cartographic theorists, and there seems in particular to have been a gap between the acceptance of the most advanced scientific theories and their translation into map form.
The influence of these views on Chinese cartography, however, remained slight, for it revolved around the basic plan of a quantitative rectangular grid, taking no account of the curvature of the earth’s surface. It was not until the 18th century, however, that maps were gradually stripped of their artistic decoration and transformed into plain, specialist sources of information based upon measurement.



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