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MAPS

HISTORY AND INSTRUMENTS

What were the earliest maps?

There are many examples demonstrating that humanity has been interested in its surroundings since the beginning of recorded history. In fact, written on the walls of caves in Lascaux, France, are three dots indicating the brightest stars in the sky, which are estimated to have been drawn around 14000 b.c.e. Neolithic wall paintings found in Catalhoyuk, Turkey, show an early city plan from around 7500 b.c.e.

What makes a piece of paper a map?

No matter what the medium, all maps must be a representation of an area of the Earth, celestial bodies, or space. Though maps are commonly printed on paper, they can come in a variety of forms, from being drawn in the sand to being viewed on computers. A map should have a legend (a guide explaining the map's symbols), a notation of which way is north, and an indicator of scale. No map is perfect and every map is unique.

What is a good way to learn where places are?

The best way to learn about places that you have heard of is to look them up in an updated atlas. An atlas is a collection of maps bound in a book; it may include additional information, such as illustrations, statistical tables, topography, and other important information about a place or places. If you like to use the Internet, you may try to enter the place in the search box at your favorite search engine, and then click on the results. You will be surprised by the amount of information you can find!

Antique maps are much more ornamental than modern-day ones, but they were also considerably less accurate!

Antique maps are much more ornamental than modern-day ones, but they were also considerably less accurate!

Why is a book of maps called an atlas?

The term "atlas" comes from the name of a mythological Greek figure, Atlas. As punishment for fighting with the Titans against the gods, Atlas was forced to hold up the planet Earth and the heavens on his shoulders. Because Atlas was often pictured on ancient books of maps, these became known as atlases.

How do cartographers shape our world?

Cartographers are map makers and cartography is the art of map making. Cartographers map neighborhoods, cities, states, countries, the world, and even other planets. There are as many types of maps to make as there are cartographers to make them.

Who would purposely create false maps?

Within the former Soviet Union, incorrect maps were produced as a matter of course. Soviet maps purposely showed the locations of towns, rivers, and roads in incorrect places. Often, in different editions of the same map, towns would disappear from one version to the next. Street maps of Moscow were particularly incorrect and non-proportional. The cartographic deceit of the U.S.S.R. was an effort to keep the geography of the country a secret, not only from foreigners but also from its own citizens. Even official government agencies were not allowed to have accurate maps.

How do I get to the refrigerator in the dark?

Not all maps are written on paper. When trying to reach the refrigerator at night, we do not smell our way to food, we use a map based on our memory of the room. If we stumble on our way, it is usually over a misplaced toy or shoe that we did not remember leaving there. Everyone has these kinds of maps in his or her mind. These mental maps help you find your way not only to the refrigerator in the dark, but also to the grocery store and to work. People not only have mental maps of common trips they make, but also of their city, country, and even the world. Every person's mental map is unique, based on how wide an area that person travels and their knowledge of the world.

Who decides which names go on maps?

In the United States, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN) approves the official names and spellings of cities, rivers, lakes, and even foreign countries. If a town would like to change its name, it must petition the BGN for approval. Upon approval, the name is officially changed and updated in federal government gazetteers and records, which official and commercial mapmakers use for their maps.

 
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