Friday, December 05, 2014

Word of the Day -- Cartography

The earliest known map is a matter of some debate, both because the definition of "map" is not sharp and because some artifacts speculated to be maps might actually be something else. A wall painting, which may depict the ancient Anatolian city of Çatalhöyük (previously known as Catal Huyuk or Çatal Hüyük), has been dated to the late 7th millennium BCE. Among the prehistoric alpine rock carvings of Mount Bego (F) and Valcamonica (I), geometric patterns (dotted rectangles and lines) are widely interpreted in archaeological literature as a plan depiction of cultivated plots. Defined as "topographic representations" and well dated to the IV millennium BC, they witness the introduction of the agriculture in the alpine territory. Other known maps of the ancient world include the Minoan "House of the Admiral" wall painting from c. 1600 BCE, showing a seaside community in an oblique perspective and an engraved map of the holy Babylonian city of Nippur, from the Kassite period (14th – 12th centuries BCE). The oldest surviving world maps are the Babylonian world maps from the 9th century BCE. One shows Babylon on the Euphrates, surrounded by a circular landmass showing Assyria, Urartu and several cities, in turn surrounded by a "bitter river" (Oceanus), with seven islands arranged around it. Another depicts Babylon as being further north from the center of the world.

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