Maps and cartography are key to studying the surface of the entire earth's surface. It is thanks to the maps that mankind has managed to systematize geographic information from sources of different eras. The development of maps and cartography accompanies the entire history of mankind.
The oldest maps
The oldest cartographic data was found in the area of Camonica (Italy) in the form of rock paintings. Archaeologists have dated them to the Bronze Age. In other words, maps schematically depicting nearby rivers and forests appeared as early as 3,500 BC, long before the appearance of writing in that region. This suggests that people already then understood and realized the importance of a schematic representation of a surface. The oldest surviving map on paper is the Turin Papyrus Map, on display at the Egyptian Museum of Turin. It depicts one of the dried up tributaries of the Nile River - Wadi Hammamat. The fact is that in this region the ancient Egyptians mined gold, copper, tin and stone. It was difficult to deliver these cargoes by land to the north of the country, so they were transported using river communications. It is surprising that on this map, in addition to the description of the river itself, the places of occurrence of certain useful resources located near the river floodplain were schematically displayed.
Another artifact of cartography is the Babylonian map of the world depicted in clay. This exhibit is exhibited at the British Museum in London.
Ancient Greek cartography
The scientific works of such ancient Greek philosophers as Eratosthenes, Hipparchus, Claudius Ptolemy became a real impetus in the development of mapping. Eratosthenes was the first to be able to depict latitude and longitude on maps. Hipparchus and Claudius Ptolemy created the first-ever textbook on mapping. It is worth saying that even then the statement about the plane of the earth's surface was questioned. For example, Anaximander believed that the Earth was in the shape of a cylinder.
Middle Ages. Arab cartography and the emergence of the compass
In this era, the development of cartography has slowed down. All European scientists of that time were inclined to believe that the Earth still has a flat shape. The Arabs adopted the Ptolemaic technique of mapping, seriously improving it. For example, they abandoned the determination of latitude by the height of the sun, having learned to do this with much greater accuracy thanks to the starry sky. At that time, the most ancient Chinese invention, the compass, came to Europe. This made a splash among the geographers of that era. The so-called "portolans" appeared - the first nautical charts in history, the outlines of the coast on which are quite close to modern maps.
The most detailed map of the world of that era was created by the Arabs, namely by the traveler Al-Idrisi.
Renaissance and modern times
This time is inextricably linked with the great geographical discoveries of that era. The discovery of the new mainland by Columbus in 1492 sparked an increased interest in cartography. By 1530, America's shores were fully explored and mapped. A detailed study of previously created maps and a description of the coasts of Australia and Asia led to the fact that in 1570 in Germany, Gerhardt Mercator and Abraham Ortelius created the first atlas of the Globe. Thanks to their work, a unified system for displaying cartographic data was adopted. In the 18th century in France, it was possible to measure the height above sea level, which led to the creation of the first topographic maps.
20th century and modern cartography
By the second decade of the 20th century, mankind managed to accurately describe the entire earth's surface. Topographic surveys around the world continued until the middle of the century. A large number of maps have been invented for their use in various spheres of life: landscape, navigation, a map of the starry sky, the seabed, etc.