4406 entries. 94 themes. Last updated December 26, 2016.

Cartography / Geography / Voyages / Travels / GIS Timeline


2,800,000 BCE – 8,000 BCE

The Earliest Evidence of Sea Voyages Circa 130,000 BCE

Stone tools found on Crete dating back over 130,000 years suggest that prehistoric civilizations took to the sea much earlier than previously thought. (view larger)

Whether or not pre-modern humans made the journeys deliberately or were washed ashore by accident, the finding, by Thomas F. Strasser and Eleni Panagapoulou, of Lower Palaeolithic flint handaxes, cleavers, and scrapers dating from at least 130,000 BCE at nine sites near the town of Plakias on Crete shows that early humans travelled out of Africa by sea much earlier than had previously been estimated. Some of these stone tools could be significantly older than circa 130,000 BCE since they resemble hand axes fashioned in Africa circa 800,000 BCE by early hominins.

"The cliffs and caves above the shore, the researchers said, have been uplifted by tectonic forces where the African plate goes under and pushes up the European plate. The exposed uplifted layers represent the sequence of geologic periods that have been well studied and dated, in some cases correlated to established dates of glacial and interglacial periods of the most recent ice age. In addition, the team analyzed the layer bearing the tools and determined that the soil had been on the surface 130,000 to 190,000 years ago.  

"Dr. Runnels said he considered this a minimum age for the tools themselves. They include not only quartz hand axes, but also cleavers and scrapers, all of which are in the Acheulean style. The tools could have been made millenniums before they became, as it were, frozen in time in the Cretan cliffs, the archaeologists said. Dr. Runnels suggested that the tools could be at least twice as old as the geologic layers. Dr. Strasser said they could be as much as 700,000 years old. Further explorations are planned this summer. The 130,000-year date would put the discovery in a time when Homo sapiens had already evolved in Africa, sometime after 200,000 years ago. Their presence in Europe did not become apparent until about 50,000 years ago.

"Archaeologists can only speculate about who the toolmakers were. One hundred and thirty thousand years ago, modern humans shared the world with other hominids, like Neanderthals and Homo heidelbergensis. The Acheulean culture is thought to have started with Homo erectus.  

"The standard hypothesis had been that Acheulean toolmakers reached Europe and Asia via the Middle East, passing mainly through what is now Turkey into the Balkans. The new finds suggest that their dispersals were not confined to land routes. They may lend credibility to proposals of migrations from Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. Crete’s southern shore where the tools were found is 200 miles from North Africa.  

“ 'We can’t say the toolmakers came 200 miles from Libya,' Dr. Strasser said. 'If you’re on a raft, that’s a long voyage, but they might have come from the European mainland by way of shorter crossings through Greek islands.'  

"But archaeologists and experts on early nautical history said the discovery appeared to show that these surprisingly ancient mariners had craft sturdier and more reliable than rafts. They also must have had the cognitive ability to conceive and carry out repeated water crossing over great distances in order to establish sustainable populations producing an abundance of stone artifacts" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/science/16archeo.html, accessed 01-06-2011).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Oldest Map is Discovered in Abauntz Cave, Navarre, Spain Circa 12,000 BCE

In August 2009 archaeologists reported that a stone found in Abauntz Cave, Araitz, Navarre, northern Spain contains the earliest known map. Engravings on the stone, which measures less than seven inches by five inches, and is less than an inch thick, appear to depict mountains, meandering rivers and areas of good foraging and hunting. A team from the University of Zaragoza spent 15 years deciphering the etched lines and squiggles after unearthing the artefact during excavation of the cave in 1993.

" 'We can say with certainty that it is a sketch, a map of the surrounding area," said Pilar Utrilla, who led the research team.

" 'Whoever made it sought to capture in stone the flow of the watercourses, the mountains outside the cave and the animals found in the area.'

" 'The landscape depicted corresponds exactly to the surrounding geography," she said. "Complete with herds of ibex marked on one of the mountains visible from the cave itself."

'The research, which is published in the latest edition of the Journal of Human Evolution, furthers understanding of early modern human capacities of spatial awareness, planning and organised hunting.

" 'We can't be sure what was intended in the making of the tablet but it was clearly important to those who populated the cave 13,660 years ago," said Ms Utrilla. "Maybe it was to record areas rich in mushrooms, birds' eggs, or flint used for making tools.' '

The researchers believe it may also have been used as a storytelling device or to plan a hunting expedition.

"Nothing like this has been discovered elsewhere in western Europe,' she said." (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/spain/5978900/Worlds-oldest-map-Spanish-cave-has-landscape-from-14000-years-ago.html, accessed 08-01-2015.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Perhaps the Oldest Map in the World 10,000 BCE

Map-making appears to predate written language. What may be the oldest map in the world, discovered in Ukraine in 1966, may date from about 10,000 BCE. Inscribed on a mammoth tusk, the map was found in Mezhirich, Ukraine. It has been interpreted to show dwellings along a river.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

8,000 BCE – 1,000 BCE

A Wallpainting that Could be a Landscape or a Map Circa 6,200 BCE

A  wallpainting, located in Catal Hoyuk, that might be the earliest landscape painting yet discovered, or a map. (View Larger)

In 1961 Catal Huyuk, or Çatalhöyük, a very large Neolithic and Chalcolithic settlement in southern Anatolia (now Turkey) of which the lowest layers date from around 7500 BCE, was discovered.  It is the largest and best preserved Neolithic site found to date.

A wall painting radio carbon dated to approximately 6200 BCE, found in 1963 at this site by archaeologist James Mellaart, may be the earliest landscape painting known, or it may be a map.

"It appears to represent the town itself with eighty rectangular buildings of varying sizes clustered in a terraced town landscape. Mellaart noted the similarity of the representation of the houses to the actual excavated structures found at the site, that is, rows of houses built one beside the other with no space between them. The wall painting shows an active double-peaked volcano rising over the town, likely to be the 3,200 m stratovolcano Mount Hasan, which is visible from Catal Huyuk. Lava is depicted flowing down its slopes and exploding in the air above the town. A cloud of ash and smoke completes the scene" (Rochberg, "The Expression of Terrestrial and Celestial Order in Ancient Mesopotamia," IN: Talbert (ed) Ancient Perspectives: Maps and Their Place in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece & Rome [2012] 10-11).

However, some archaeologists have suggested that the wall painting is more likely a painting of a leopard skin instead of a landscape including a volcano, or a decorative geometric design instead of a map. The painting is preserved in the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara, Turkey.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Pavlopetri: the Oldest Submerged Town Site 2,800 BCE

Discovered in 1967 by Nicolas Flemming and first mapped in 1968, the city of Pavlopetri, underwater off the coast of southern Laconia in Peloponnesos, Greece, is the oldest submerged archeological town site, and though the buildings were eroded over the millenia, the city is unique in having an almost complete town plan, including streets, buildings, and tombs. It is now believed that the town was submerged around 1000 BCE, and because the area never reemerged from the sea, it was neither built-over nor disrupted by agriculture. It has at least 15 buildings submerged in 3 to 4 metres (9.8–13 ft) of water. The ancient name of the city is unknown; the name Pavlopetri ("Paul's and Peter's", or "Paul's stone") is the modern name for the islet and beach, presumably named for the two Christian saints that are celebrated together.

Earlier, the ruins of Pavlopetri were dated to the Mycenaean period, 1600-1100 BC. Later studies showed an older occupation date starting no later than 2800 BCE, so it also includes early Bronze Age middle Minoan and transitional material.

The site is under threat of damage by boats dragging anchors, as well as by tourists and souvenir hunters. In 2009 John C. Henderson from the University of Nottingham and team began archeological work on Pavlopetri, to map the site in great detail using the latest technology. As a result, Pavlopetri became the first submerged town to be digitally surveyed in three dimensions using sonar mapping techniques developed by military and oil prospecting organizations.  Because the archeologists collected 3D digital information in the survey process their data allowed a 3D digital reconstruction of the site by computer graphics professionals.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the Oldest, Largest & Best Preserved Vessels from Antiquity Circa 2,500 BCE

Measuring 43.67 m (143 ft.) long and 5.9 m (19.5 ft) wide, the funerary boat of King Cheops (Khufu, Khêops), the second pharaoh of the Fourth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, is one of the oldest, largest, and best-reserved vessels from antiquity. Around 2500 BCE the boat was sealed into a pit in the Giza Necropolis at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

"The ship was one of two rediscovered in 1954 by Kamal el-Mallakh – undisturbed since it was sealed into a pit carved out of the Giza bedrock. It was built largely of Lebanon cedar planking in the 'shell-first' construction technique, using unpegged tenons of Christ's thorn. The ship was built with a flat bottom composed of several planks, but no actual keel, with the planks and frames lashed together with Halfah grass, and has been reconstructed from 1,224 pieces which had been laid in a logical, disassembled order in the pit beside the pyramid" (Wikipedia article on Khufu ship, accessed 01-18-2013)

Though the Khufu ship is categorized as a solar barge or sun boat, intended for use in the afterlife, perhaps to allow the king to cross the sky every day with Re (Ra), the sun-god, it seems to have been used at least once—perhaps to carry the funeral cortêge of the king by river or canal to the pyramid complex for burial.

Having been restored over many years, the Khufu ship is preserved in the Giza Solar Boat Museum.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The World's Oldest Harbor Circa 2,500 BCE

Photo of wharf at low tide, Wadi al-Jarf

Diagram of Harbour at Wadi al-Jarf.

Location of Wad al-Jarf.

Old Kingdom anchor at Wadi al-Jarf.

Between 2011 and 2013 a French-Egyptian archaeological mission from the French Institute of Archaeological Studies (IFAO) headed by Pierre Tallet, an Egyptologist at the University of Paris, discovered the most ancient harbor ever found on the shore of the Red Sea at Wadi al-Jarf 119 km (74 mi.) south of Suez. The harbor dates to the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt. Also discovered at the site were more than 100 anchors— the first Old Kingdom anchors found in their original context— and numerous storage jars. The jars have been linked with those of another site across the Red Sea, indicating trade between the two sites. Among products traded were copper and other minerals from Sinai. 

"The harbor complex consists of a 280 m (920 ft) long mole or jetty of stone that is still visible at low tide (28.8888°N 32.6815°E), an alamat or navigational landmark made of heaped stones, a strange 60 m × 30 m (200 ft × 98 ft) building of unknown function that is divided into 13 long rooms, and a series of 25 to 30 storage galleries carved into limestone outcrops. The building of unknown function is the largest pharaonic building discovered along the Red Sea coast to date. The storage galleries are between 16 and 34 m (52 and 112 ft) long, and are usually 3 m (9.8 ft) wide and 2.5 m (8.2 ft) tall.

"Inside the galleries, the archeological team discovered several boat and sail fragments, some oars, and numerous pieces of ancient rope. Twenty-five stone anchors were found under water, and 99 anchors were found in an apparent storage building. The discovery of anchors in their original context is a first in Old Kingdom archeology. Many of the anchors bear hieroglyphs, likely representing the boat's names from which they came.

"The port is to have been the starting point for voyages from mainland Egypt to South Sinai mining operations. Tallet speculates that the harbor may have also been used to launch voyages to "the mysterious Land of Punt", a known trading partner of Egypt. The archeologists who excavated the site believe that the harbor dates to the reign of the Pharaoh Khufu (2589–2566 B.C.), whose name is inscribed on some of the heavy limestone blocks at the site. That means the harbor predates the second-oldest known port structure by more than 1,000 years. There is some trace evidence of use during the early part of Fifth Dynasty, after which the harbor was likely abandoned" (Wikipedia article on Wadi-al-Jarf, accessed 04-25-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1,000 BCE – 300 BCE

The Babylonian Map of the World, the Oldest Usable Map Circa 700 BCE – 500 BCE

The Babylonian Mappa mundi or world map (British Museum 92687), a diagrammatic labeled depiction of the world, was probably created between 700 and 500 BCE, in Sippar, southern iraq, where it was discovered. It was first published in 1899. The map was written in cuneiform script on a clay tablet, of which only the major portions survive, measuring 12.2 x 8.2 cm.

"Babylon is shown in the centre (the rectangle in the top half of the circle), and Assyria, Elam and other places are also named. The central area is ringed by a circular waterway labelled 'Salt-Sea'. The outer rim of the sea is surrounded by what were probably originally eight regions, each indicated by a triangle, labelled 'Region' or 'Island', and marked with the distance in between. The cuneiform text describes these regions, and it seems that strange and mythical beasts as well as great heroes lived there, although the text is far from complete.

"The regions are shown as triangles since that was how it was visualized that they first would look when approached by water.

"The map is sometimes taken as a serious example of ancient geography, but although the places are shown in their approximately correct positions, the real purpose of the map is to explain the Babylonian view of the mythological world"(http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/m/map_of_the_world.aspx, accessed 03-08-2014).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Oldest Map Clearly Marked with Distances 343 BCE – 313 BCE

A quarter-inch thick copper plate in the Hebei Provincial Museum at Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China, bears the world’s oldest map clearly marked with distances.

"The 2,300-year-old map marks the locations of buildings in the five mausoleums of Wang Cuo (344-313 BC), his queen, and his concubines. It is called the Zhao Yu Tu (“map of the area of the mausoleum”). “It is not only the oldest map ever found in China but the oldest numeral-bearing map in the world,” says Du Naisong, a researcher with the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City. Thirty-seven inches long and 19 inches wide, the map marks more than 70 locations, and symbols, numerals, and epigraphs are inlaid with gold and silver. Unlike modern maps, the Zhao Yu Tu has south on top and north on the bottom. One-half inch equals 16.5 feet on the map’s scale" (http://www.archaeology.org/9803/newsbriefs/map.html, accessed 12-27-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

300 BCE – 30 CE

The Mawangui Silk Texts Circa 175 BCE

A Taoist text preserved on silk and discovered in Mawangui in 1973.

The Mawangdui Silk Texts (Chinese: 馬王堆帛書; pinyin: Mǎwángduī Bóshū), texts of Chinese philosophical and medical works written on silk, were found buried in Tomb no. 3 at Mawangdui, in the city of Changsha, Hunan, China in 1973. 

"They include the earliest attested manuscripts of existing texts such as the I Ching, two copies of the Tao Te Ching, one similar copy of Strategies of the Warring States and a similar school of works of Gan De and Shi Shen. Scholars arranged them into silk books of 28 kinds. Together they count to about 120,000 words covering military strategy, mathematics, cartography and the six classical arts of ritual, music, archery, horsemanship, writing and arithmetic" (Wikipedia article on Mawangdui Silk Texts, accessed 01-31-2010).

Most of the Mawangdui Silk Texts are preserved in the Hunan Provincial Museum.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

30 CE – 500 CE

At Alexandria Ptolemy Writes the Almagest, the Cosmographia, and the Tetrabiblos Circa 100 CE – 178 CE


In the second century CE, probably at the Library of Alexandria, mathematician, astronomer, geographer, and astrologer Claudius Ptolemaeus (Greek: Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαίος , Klaúdios Ptolemaîos) wrote the Almagest, the Cosmographia, and the Tetrabiblos. In the Almgagest (in Greek, Η Μεγάλη Σύνταξις, "The Great Treatise", originally Μαθηματική Σύνταξις, "Mathematical Treatise") Ptolemy compiled the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Greek and Babylonian world, relying mainly on the work of Hipparchus, which had been written three centuries earlier.

Ptolemy's Almagest is the only surviving comprehensive treatise on astronomy from antiquity. It was preserved, like most of classical Greek science, in Arabic manuscripts, hence its familiar Arabic name. The work was first translated into Latin from Arabic texts found in Toledo, in Al-Andalus, or Moorish Iberia, by Gerard of Cremona, in the 12th century, and it is from Gerard's version that the work became known to European scientists in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

"Ptolemy formulated a geocentric model of the solar system which remained the generally accepted model in the Western and Arab worlds until it was superseded by the heliocentric solar system of Copernicus. Likewise his computational methods (supplemented in the 12th century with the Arabic computational Tables of Toledo), were of sufficient accuracy to satisfy the needs of astronomers, astrologers, and navigators, until the time of the great explorations. They were also adopted in the Arab world and in India. The Almagest also contains a star catalogue, which is probably an updated version of a catalogue created by Hipparchus. Its list of forty-eight constellations is ancestral to the modern system of constellations, but unlike the modern system they did not cover the whole sky (only the sky Ptolemy could see).”

Even though Ptolemy's Almagest remained the dominant textbook of theoretical astronomy from the second through the sixteenth centuries, only an epitome or digest appeared in print during the fifteenth century. This was the Epytoma in Almagestum Ptolemai published by the German mathematician, astronomer, astrologer, translator, instrument maker and Catholic bishop Johannes Müller von Königsberg, who is best known by the Latin version of his name, Regiomontanus.  The Epytoma, printed in Venice by Johannes Hamman for Kaspar Grossch and Stephan Roemer, and issued on August 31, 1496, must have been printed in an unusually large edition as it remains one of the most common of all books printed in the fifteenth century, with more than 100 copies recorded in institutional libraries worldwide by the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC No. ir00111000.) The first edition of Gerard of Cremona's translation of Ptolemy's complete text was published in Venice by Peter Liechtenstein on January 10, 1515. When I wrote this note only two American libraries had recorded their ownership of this edition in OCLC (Yale and the University of Michigan), and nine copies were cited in European libraries by the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue. Why so few copies of this edition were recorded remained unclear, but the most likely explanation was that the original printing was small.  Gerard's text was reprinted many times.

Stillwell, The Awakening Interest in Science During the First Century of Printing 1450-1550, No. 97.

Ptolemy’s Cosmographia “is a compilation of what was known about the world’s geography in the Roman Empire during his time. He relied mainly on the work of an earlier geographer, Marinos of Tyre, and on gazetteers of the Roman and ancient Persian empire, but most of his sources beyond the perimeter of the Empire were unreliable.

“Ptolemy also devised and provided instructions on how to create maps both of the whole inhabited world (oikoumenè) and of the Roman provinces. . . . Ptolemy was well aware that he knew about only a quarter of the globe.”

The world-map from the 1482 Ulm edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia.

The maps in surviving manuscripts of Ptolemy’s Cosmographia date only from about 1300, after the text was rediscovered by Maximus Planudes, a Byzantine scholar working in Constantinople. In 1475, when the text first appeared in print, it was published without maps. Two years later the first edition with maps was published in Bologna. The famous world map illustrated here was included in the edition published in Ulm, Germany by Lienhart Holle on July 16, 1482. (ISTC No. ip01084000).


"Ptolemy's treatise on astrology, known in Greek as the Apotelesmatika ("Astrological Outcomes" or "Effects") and in Latin as the Tetrabiblos ("Four books"), was the most popular astrological work of antiquity and also had great influence in the Islamic world and the medieval Latin West. The Tetrabiblos is an extensive and continually reprinted treatise on the ancient principles of horoscopic astrology in four books (Greek tetra means "four", biblos is "book"). That it did not quite attain the unrivaled status of the Almagest was perhaps because it did not cover some popular areas of the subject, particularly electional astrology (interpreting astrological charts for a particular moment to determine the outcome of a course of action to be initiated at that time), and medical astrology" (Wikipedia article on Ptolemy, accessed 07-16-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Forma Urbis Romae, Monumental Stone Map of Ancient Rome 203 CE – 211 CE

A reconstruction of a portion of the Forma Urbis Romae, showing a section of the Theater of Pompey. (View Larger)

The Forma Urbis Romae, or Severan Marble Plan, a huge map of ancient Rome, was created under emperor Septimius Severus between 203 and 211 CE, and originally measured 18.10 meters (60ft) high by 13 meters (43ft) wide, carved in 150 marble slabs mounted on an interior wall of the Templum Pacis. Only about 10-15% of the map survives, broken into 1,186 pieces. Of these, 712 fragments have been catalogued, many composed of several pieces, but in 1996 less than 50 of the fragments had been positively identified and located. What is left of the map is preserved in the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Capitoline Museums.

"Created at a scale of approximately 1 to 240, the map was detailed enough to show the floor plans of nearly every temple, bath, and insula in the central Roman city. The boundaries of the plan were decided based on the available space on the marble, instead of by geographical or political borders as modern maps usually are.

"The Plan was gradually destroyed during the Middle Ages, with the marble stones being used as building materials or for making lime. In 1562, the young antiquarian sculptor Giovanni Antonio Dosio excavated fragments of the Forma Urbis from a site near the Church of SS. Cosma e Damiano, under the direction of the humanist condottiere Torquato Conti, who had purchased excavation rights from the canons of the church. Conti made a gift of the recovered fragments to Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, who entrusted them to his librarian Onofrio Panvinio and his antiquarian Fulvio Orsini. Little interest seems to have been elicited by the marble shards" (Wikipedia article on Forma Urbis Romae, accessed 12-23-2009).

♦ In 1999 Marc Levoy and members of his team at Stanford University began the Digital Forma Urbis Romae Project as a way of solving the jigsaw puzzle of the 1,186 marble fragments and 87 fragments known only from Renaissance drawings:

"First, we digitized the shape and surface of every known fragment of the Severan Marble Plan using laser range scanners and digital color cameras; the raw data collected consists of 8 billion polygons and 6 thousand color images, occupying 40 gigabytes. These range and color data have been assembled into a set of 3D computer models and high-resolution photographs - one for each of the 1,186 marble fragments. Second, this data has served in the development of fragment matching algorithms; to date, these have resulted in over a dozen highly probable, new matches. Third, we have gathered the Project's 3D models and color photographs into a relational database and supported them with archaeological documentation and an up-to-date scholarly apparatus for each fragment. This database is intended to be a public, web-based, research and study tool for scholars, students and interested members of the general public alike. Fourth, these digital and archaeological data, and their availability in a hypertext format, have the potential to broaden the scope and type of research done on this ancient map by facilitating a range of typological, representational and urbanistic analyses of the map, some of which are proposed here. In these several ways, we hope that this Project will contribute to new ways of imaging Rome" (http://graphics.stanford.edu/papers/forma-williams/, accessed 12-23-2009).

Nancy Thomson de Grummond, ed., An Encyclopedia of the History of Classical Archaeology I (1996)  451.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

800 – 900

An Early Flat-Earth View of the World Circa 850

Cosmas Indicopleustes's map of the earth, from Topographia Christiana. (View Larger)

Around 550 Cosmas Indicopleustes (literally: "who sailed to India") wrote the copiously illustrated Topographia Christiana or Christian Topography, a work partly based on his personal experiences as a merchant on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean in the early 6th century. It is thought that the author served as a monk on Mt. Sinai after spending a career at sea. The earliest and best manuscript of this work, dating from the ninth century, and containing an early flat earth world map, is preserved in the Vatican Library.

The author provides a description of India and Sri Lanka during of the 6th century. He seems to have personally visited the Kingdom of Axum in modern Ethiopia and Eritrea, India and Sri Lanka. In 522 CE, he visited the Malabar Coast (South India).

"A major feature of his Topography is Cosmas' worldview that the world is flat, and that the heavens form the shape of a box with a curved lid, a view he took from unconventional interpretations of Christian scripture. Cosmas aimed to prove that pre-Christian geographers had been wrong in asserting that the earth was spherical and that it was in fact modelled on the tabernacle, the house of worship described to Moses by God during the Jewish Exodus from Egypt" (Wikipedia article on Early World Maps, accessed 11-26-2008).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Periplus of Hanno the Navigator Circa 850 – 950

Codex Heidelbergensis 398: the single document, edited by Sigismund Gelenius, that recounts the periplus of Hanno. (View Larger)

The periplus (literally "a sailing-around") of Hanno the Navigator, a Carthaginian colonist and explorer circa 500 BCE, which recounts his exploration of the West coast of Africa, is one of the earliest surviving manuscript documents listing in order the ports and coastal landmarks, with approximate distances between, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find along a shore.

In his periplus Hanno states that he brought new colonists to four Carthaginian settlements established where the chain of the Atlas Mountains reaches the Atlantic and then, having founded a new colony at the Tropic, proceeded from there to explore the coast of Africa as far as the Equator. It also contains a description of an active volcano and the first known report about gorillas.

Hanno's periplus survives in a single Byzantine manuscript, which also contains various other texts, and dates from the 9th or 10th century—Codex Heidelbergensis 398. In February 2014 a digital facsimile of the manuscript was available from the Universitätsbibliothek, Heidelberg at this link. Hanno's text was first edited for publication in print by Sigismund Gelenius, and issued from Basel in 1533. It was translated into English by Wilfred Schott and published as The Periplus of Hanno. A Voyage of Discovery Down the West African Coast by a Carthaginian Admiral of the Fifth Century B.C. (1912).

"The primary source for the account of Hanno's expedition is a Greek translation, titled Periplus, of a tablet Hanno is reported to have hung up on his return to Carthage in the temple of Ba'al Hammon whom Greek writers identified with Kronos. The full title translated from Greek is The Voyage of Hanno, commander of the Carthaginians, round the parts of Libya beyond the Pillars of Heracles, which he deposited in the Temple of Kronos. This was known to Pliny the Elder and Arrian, who mentions it at the end of his Anabasis of Alexander VIII (Indica):

" 'Moreover, Hanno the Libyan started out from Carthage and passed the Pillars of Heracles and sailed into the outer Ocean, with Libya on his port side, and he sailed on towards the east, five-and-thirty days all told. But when at last he turned southward, he fell in with every sort of difficulty, want of water, blazing heat, and fiery streams running into the sea" (Wikipedia article on Hanno the Navigator, accessed 05-30-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1000 – 1100

The First Conclusive Proof that Norsemen Reached North America Circa 1000

The reconstructions of three Norse buildings are the focal point of this archaeological site, the earliest known European settlement in the New World. The archaeological remains at the site were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978.

Examples of objects found at L'Anse aux Meadow.

Timeline of occupation of L'Anse aux Meadows.

In 1960 Norwegian explorer Helge Ingstad and his wife, archaeologist Anne Stine, discovered the remains of a Norse village in at L'Anse aux Meadows on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. This was the first conclusive proof that Greenlandic Norsemen had found a way across the Atlantic Ocean to North America, roughly 500 years before Christopher Columbus and John Cabot.

"Archaeologists determined the site is of Norse origin because of definitive similarities between the characteristics of structures and artifacts found at the site compared to sites in Greenland and Iceland from around CE 1000.

"Helge Ingstad and Anne Stine Ingstad carried out seven archaeological excavations from 1961 to 1968, investigating eight complete house sites as well as the remains of a ninth.

"The L'Anse aux Meadows area was originally inhabited by Native peoples as far back as 6000BP. The area was probably sought due to its abundance of marine life and close proximity to Labrador. The most prominent of early Native inhabitants were the Dorset Eskimo; however, during the centuries of Norse exploration of the area there were thought to be no inhabitants in the immediate area" (Wikipedia article on L'Anse aux Meadows, accessed 10-24-2012).

"L'Anse aux Meadows remains the only widely accepted instance of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact and is notable for its possible connection with the attempted colony of Vinland established by Leif Ericson around the same time period or, more broadly, with Norse exploration of the Americas. . . .The settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows has been dated to approximately 1,000 years ago, an assessment that tallies with the relative dating of artifact and structure types.The remains of eight buildings were located. They are believed to have been constructed of sod placed over a wooden frame. Based on associated artifacts, the buildings were variously identified as dwellings or workshops. The largest dwelling measured 28.8 by 15.6 m (94.5 by 51 ft) and consisted of several rooms. Workshops were identified as an iron smithy containing a forge and iron slag, a carpentry workshop, which generated wood debris, and a specialized boat repair area containing worn rivets. Besides those related to iron working, carpentry, and boat repair, other artifacts found at the site consisted of common everyday Norse items, including a stone oil lamp, a whetstone, a bronze fastening pin, a bone knitting needle, and part of a spindle. The presence of the spindle and needle suggests that women were present as well as men. Food remains included butternuts, which are significant because they do not grow naturally north of New Brunswick, and their presence probably indicates the Norse inhabitants travelled farther south to obtain them.Archaeologists concluded that the site was inhabited by the Norse for a relatively short period of time.  

"Norse sagas are written versions of older oral traditions. Two Icelandic sagas, commonly called the Saga of the Greenlanders and the Saga of Eric the Red, describe the experiences of Norse Greenlanders who discovered and attempted to settle land to the west of Greenland, identified by them as Vinland. The sagas suggest that the Vinland settlement failed because of conflicts within the Norse community, as well as between the Norse and the native people they encountered, whom they called Skrælingar.

"Recent archaeological studies suggest that the L'Anse aux Meadows site is not Vinland itself but was within a land called Vinland that spread farther south from L'Anse aux Meadows, extending to the St. Lawrence River and New Brunswick. The village at L'Anse aux Meadows served as an exploration base and winter camp for expeditions heading southward into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The settlements of Vinland mentioned in the Eric saga and the Greenlanders saga, Leifsbudir (Leif Ericson) and Hóp (Norse Greenlanders), have both been identified as the L'Anse aux Meadows site (Wikipedia article on Helge Ingstad, accessed 10-24-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Medieval Islamic Views of the Cosmos: The Book of Curiosities Circa 1025

In 2002 the Bodleian Library at Oxford acquired one of the only known copies of an illustrated anonymous cosmography compiled in Egypt during the first half of the 11th century. This manuscript contains a series of early maps and astronomical diagrams, most of which are unparalleled in any other known Greek, Latin or Arabic material. The rhyming title of the volume, يKitāb Gharā’ib al-funūn wa-mulaḥ al-ʿuyūn, loosely translates as The Book of Curiosities of the Sciences and Marvels for the Eyes. The Bodleian's copy may have been made in the late 12th or early 13th century. 

"Its unique maps and diagrams include: diagrams of star-groups and comets; a rectangular map of the world with a graphic scale (the earliest surviving example of such a map); a circular world map; individual maps of islands and ports in the eastern Mediterranean, including Sicily, Tinnis, Mahdia, Cyprus, and the Byzantine coasts of Asia Minor; maps illustrating the Mediterranean Sea as a whole, the Indian Ocean, and the Caspian Sea; and maps of five major rivers (the Nile, Indus, Oxus, Euphrates, and Tigris)" (http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/news/2007_mar_29, accessed 01-23-2014).

The significance of the manuscript is such that the Bodleian created a separate website for the manuscript entitled Medieval Islamic Views of the Cosmos. The Book of Curiosities, in which the manuscript is reproduced in facsimile, with translation and commentary, and aids for teachers.

"The volume (now given the shelfmark MS. Arab. c. 90) consists of 48 folios (96 pages), each measuring 324 x 245 mm. Pages without illustrations have 27 lines of text per page. The treatise begins with a dedication to an unnamed patron and an abbreviated table of contents. The manuscript copy is incomplete, however, for the copyist has omitted the eighth and ninth chapters of the second book, and the manuscript has lost part of the penultimate chapter and all of the last one.

The Paper

"The lightly glossed, biscuit-brown paper is sturdy, rather soft, and relatively opaque. The paper has thick horizontal laid lines, slightly curved, and there are rib shadows, but no chain lines or watermarks are visible. The thickness of the paper varies between 0.17 and 0.20 mm and measures 3 on the Sharp Scale of Opaqueness; the laid lines are 6-7 wires/cm, with the space between lines less than the width of one line. The paper would appear to have been made using a grass mould. Paper of such construction was produced in Egypt and Greater Syria in the 12th and 13th centuries (greater precision is not possible). For similar Islamic papers, see Helen Loveday, Islamic Paper: A Study of the Ancient Craft (London, 2001); we thank the author for examining and discussing with us the paper in this particular manuscript.

Authorship, date and provenance

"The author of The Book of Curiosities is not named and has not been identified, although he refers to another composition of his titled يal-Muḥītي(‘The Comprehensive’). On the basis of internal evidence, we can suggest that the treatise was composed in the first half of the 11th century, probably in Egypt. The copy we have today is more recent and appears to have been made some hundred and fifty to two hundred years later. Although the copy is undated and unsigned, the paper, inks, and pigments appear consistent with Egyptian-Syrian products made from the early 13th through the 14th century.ي

"Our author recognized the legitimate authority of the Fāṭimid imāms who came to power in Ifrīqiyah (modern Tunisia) in 909 and ruled at Cairo from 973 until their dynasty was brought to an end by Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn (Saladin) in 1171. At their heyday, the Fāṭimids ruled all over Syria, Egypt and North Africa. Whereas the ʿAbbāsid caliphs of Baghdad were recognized as the rightful leaders of the Muslim community by the Sunnī majority, the Fāṭimid imāms—who claimed to be the biological descendants of the Prophet Muḥammad through his daughter Fāṭimah—were recognized as legitimate by a faithful minority of Ismāʿīlī Muslims. Our author not only opens his work with an explicit acknowledgement of the Fāṭimids but also, further on, gives a brief but highly doctrinaire history of the rise of the dynasty, from the accession of the first imām, al-Mahdī, to the defeat of Abū Yazīd (al-dajjāl, the Antichrist) by his son, al-Qāʾim.ي

"The geographical focus of The Book of Curiosities is Muslim commercial centres of the 9th- to 11th-century eastern Mediterranean, such as Sicily, the textile-producing town of Tinnīs in the Nile Delta, and Mahdīyah in modern Tunisia. The author is equally acquainted with Byzantine-controlled areas of the Mediterranean, such as Cyprus, the Aegean Sea, and the southern coasts of Anatolia. The author’s occasional use of Coptic terms and Coptic months, together with the allegiance to the Fāṭimid caliphs based in Cairo, suggest Egypt as a likely place of production.ي

"The treatise was almost certainly composed before 1050. The tribal group of the Banū Qurrah are mentioned in chapter 6 of Book 2 as inhabiting the lowlands near Alexandria. As the Banū Qurrah are known to have been banished from the region of Alexandria by the Fāṭimid authorities in 1051–1052, it is very likely that this treatise was written before that date. Since Sicily is described as being under Muslim rule, the treatise could definitely not have been composed later than the Norman invasion of Sicily in 1070.ي

"The last dated event mentioned in the treatise is the construction buildings for merchants in the city of Tinnīs in 1014-1015. Moreover, al-Ḥākim bi-Amr Allāh, the Fāṭimid ruler of Egypt and Syria from 996 to 1021, is referred to in the chapter on Tinnīs as if he were no longer reigning. Therefore, the treatise was probably composed after 1021" (http://cosmos.bodley.ox.ac.uk/content.php/boc?expand=732, accessed 01-23-2014)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A Medieval Encyclopedia, of which the Autograph Manuscript Survived Circa 1090 – 1125

A T-O design from Lambert's Liber Floridus. (View Larger)

Between 1090 and 1125 Lambert, Canon of Saint-Omer, France, compiled the Liber Floridus, a kind of encyclopedia of Biblical, chronological, astronomical, geographical, cartographic, theological, philosophical and natural history compiled from 192 different works. Lambert's Liber floridus was the first of the encyclopedias of the High Middle Ages that slowly superseded the work of Isidore of Seville. The original autograph manuscript, completed in 1120 and dedicated to Saint Omer (St. Audomar) by Canon Lambert, is preserved in Ghent University Library, though its latter portion did not survive. In February 2014 Ghent University Library provided an unusually detailed, well documented, website for the manuscript, and a digital facsimile at this link.

Liber floridus includes various maps including a mappa mundi. The Ghent manuscript, the oldest of the known copies, includes a map of parts of Europe and two climate-zone drawings based on the Macrobian model as an attempt to make a complete world map. The parts of the European map sketch show interesting and odd representations. 

"In this treatise Lambert compiled a chronicle or history that reaches to the year 1119; it contains various maps, including a mappamundi, which originally like the text, has a date at least earlier than 1125, and has survived in three forms: in the manuscripts of Ghent, Wolfenbüttel, and Paris. In spite of a clearly expressed intention of supplying a complete world map, the oldest copy, the Ghent manuscript, only includes Europe, two Macrobian-zone sketches and a T-O design. This particular manuscript copy seems to have been written by Lambert himself, certainly not later than 1125, and contains some remarkable peculiarities with regards to Europe. The Wolfenbüttel and Paris copies, dating from about 1150, are simply different copies from the same original, which was doubtless of Lambert's own draftsmanship (although in a monograph entitled Die Weltkarte des Martianus Capella, R. Uhden has pointed out that the world map contained in the Wolfenbüttel copy carries a legend ascribing the original to Martianus Capella. The correctness of the ascription is further verified by the identity of various other legends on the map with passages in the Satyricon or De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii . . . by Martianus Capella). These maps, which are based upon Capella's design, contain an equatorial ocean but are quite different than the Macrobian zone-maps (Slide #201). The ecliptic is usually shown, with the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the generalization of the coastlines is rounded in nature. Most of these maps are characteristically oriented to the East (although some show a northern orientation), and have a large amount of text in the southern continent. The climatic zones may or may not be explicitly shown. Regularly shaped islands are usually found in the ocean surrounding the northern continent.

"While containing a less detailed Europe, both the Wolfenbüttel and Paris manuscripts possess a complete mappamundi, together with a special and interesting addition. Nowhere else in medieval cartography do we find greater prominence assigned to the unknown southern continent - the Australian land of the fabled Antipodes (termed Antichthon by the ancients). On the Paris manuscript, where this land occupies half of the circle of the earth, a long inscription defines this 'region of the south' in terms not unlike those used on the St. Sever - Beatus map (Slide #207D)" (http://www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/EMwebpages/217mono.html, accessed 12-26-2008)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1100 – 1200

An Illuminated Medieval Travel Guide and Music Compendium Circa 1150

Detail of page from the Codex Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint James Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint JamesCodex Calixtinus–or Liber Sancti Jacobi / Book of Saint James.

Formerly attributed to Pope Callixtus II, but now believed to have been arranged by the French scholar, monk and pilgrim Aymeric Picaud, the Codex Calixtinus was intended as an anthology of background detail and advice for pilgrims following the Way of St. James to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great, located in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain.

The codex is alternatively known as the Liber Sancti Jacobi, or the Book of Saint James. It includes sermons, reports of miracles and liturgical texts associated with Saint James, and a most interesting set of polyphonic musical pìeces. The Codex Calixtinus was intended to be chanted aloud, and contains the first known composition for three voices, the conductus Congaudeant catholici (Let all Catholics rejoice together); however, the extreme dissonance encountered when performing all three voices together has led some scholars to suggest that this was not the original intention. The popularity of the music has continued to the present day with modern recordings commercially available. It also contains descriptions of the pilgrimage route, works of art to be seen along the way, and the customs of the local people.

"The origins and authorship of the Codex Calixtinus have been the subject of much debate amongst scholars. It is generally believed to have been written by a number of different authors and then compiled as a single volume, possibly between 1135 and 1139 by the French scholar Aymeric Picaud. It is thought that in order to lend authority to their work, the authors prefaced the book with a forged letter purportedly signed by Pope Callixtus II, who had already died in 1124.

"The earliest known edition of the codex is that held in the archives of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela,[2] and dates from about 1150. It was lost and forgotten for many years until rediscovered in 1886 by the Jesuit scholar Padre Fidel Fita. A copy of the Santiago edition was made in 1173 by the monk Arnaldo de Monte,[3] and is known as The Ripoll (after the monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll in Catalonia). It is now kept in Barcelona. The book was well-received by the Church of Rome, and copies of it were to be found from Rome to Jerusalem, but it was particularly popular at the Abbey of Cluny.

"The first full transcription of the Codex was done in 1932 by Walter Muir Whitehill, and published in 1944 in Madrid by the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, together with a musicological study by Silos's Dom Germán Prado O.S.B., and another on the miniature illustrations by Jesús Carro García" (Wikipedia article on Codex Calixtinus, accessed 07-07-2011).

The manuscript was preserved in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. On July 5, 2011 it disappeared from a safe in the archives of the Cathedral. The theft was under investigation when I wrote this entry on July 7, 2011.

♦ On July 8, 2011 an article appeared on theolivepress.es concerning the left: http://www.theolivepress.es/spain-news/2011/07/07/codex-calixtinus-stolen-from-santiago-de-compostela-cathedral/, accessed 07-07-2011.

On July 11, 2011 an article concerning the codex and the theft appeared in time.com: "Codex Caper: Medieval Guidebook Stolen from a Spanish Church: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2082071,00.html

♦ On July 4, 2012, one day less than a year from the day it was announced stolen, the Codex Calustinus was recovered from a garage in Santiago. A former caretaker and his wife, son, and another women were arrested by Spanish police in connection with the theft.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1200 – 1300

The First Record of a Chinese Printed Seal in Europe 1245

In 1245 Pope Innocent IV sent Father Giovanni da Pian del Carpine (John of Plano Carpini) to an embassy to the court of the Grand Khan of the Mongol Empire in Karakorum Mongolia (Khalkha Mongolian: Хархорин Kharkhorin).  One of the first Europeans to enter the court of the Great Khan, Carpine was the author of the earliest important Western account of northern and central Asia, Rus, and other regions of the Mongol dominion, Ystoria Mongalorum.

"He [Carpine] went by Prague and Kiev to Mongolia, where he presented his letter and received his reply. This reply—the original—was discovered by accident in the year 1920 in the archives of the Vatican. It is written in Uigur and Persian and contains in lieu of his signature the seal of the Grand Khan Kouyouk (grandson of Jenghis)[Güyük Khan]. This is the first recorded appearance in Europe of an impression from a seal based on those in use in China and impressed with ink upon paper" (Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed [1955] 159-60).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Tabula Peutingeriana: the only Roman World Map that Survived from Antiquity Circa 1250

Rome and its vicinity, as depicted on a reproduction the Tabula Peutingeriana. (View Full Map - Very Large)

The Tabula Peutingerianaan itinerarium or Roman road map, is the only Roman world map that survived from antiquity. It depicts the road network of the Roman Empire. The map ssurvives in a unique copy, preserved at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna, made by a monk in Colmar, Alsace, in the thirteenth century, of a map that was last revised in the fourth or early fifth century. That, in turn, was a descendent of the map prepared under the direction of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a friend of Augustus. After Agrippa's death the map was engraved on marble and placed in the Porticus Vipsaniae, not far from the Ara Pacis Augustae in Rome.

Description of the Map

The Tabula Peutingeriana "is a parchment scroll, 0.34 m high and 6.75 m long, assembled from eleven sections, a medieval reproduction of the original scroll. It is a very schematic map: the land masses are distorted, especially in the east-west direction. The map shows many Roman settlements, the roads connecting them, rivers, mountains, forests and seas. The distances between the settlements are also given. Three most important cities of the Roman Empire, Rome, Constantinople and Antioch, are represented with special iconic decoration. Besides the totality of the Empire, the map shows the Near East, India and the Ganges, Sri Lanka (Insula Taprobane), even an indication of China. In the west, the absence of the Iberian Peninsula indicates that a twelfth original section has been lost in the surviving copy.

Constantinople, on the original Tabula Peutingeriana. (View Full Scan - WARNING: 30mb File!)

"The table appears to be based on "itineraries", or lists of destinations along Roman roads, as the distances between points along the routes are indicated. Travellers would not have possessed anything so sophisticated as a map, but they needed to know what lay ahead of them on the road, and how far. The Peutinger table represents these roads as a series of roughly parallel lines along which destinations have been marked in order of travel. The shape of the parchment pages accounts for the conventional rectangular layout. However, a rough similarity to the coordinates of Ptolemy's earth-mapping gives some writers a hope that some terrestrial representation was intended by the unknown compilers.

"The stages and cities are represented by hundreds of functional place symbols, used with discrimination from the simplest icon of a building with two towers to the elaborate individualized "portraits" of the three great cities. Annalina and Mario Levi, the Tabulas editors, conclude that the semi-schematic semi-pictorial symbols reproduce Roman cartographic conventions of the itineraria picta described by Vegetius, of which this is the sole testimony."

History of Ownership and Early Publication

The map is named after Konrad Peutinger, a German humanist and antiquarian, who inherited it from Konrad Birkel or Celtes, who claimed to have "found" it somewhere in a library in 1494.  It was copied for Ortelius and published shortly after his death in 1598. A partial first edition was printed at Antwerp in 1591 as Fragmenta tabulæ antiquæ by Johannes Moretus. Moretus printed the full Tabula in December 1598. The map remained in the Peutinger family until 1714, when it was sold.  After that it passed between royal and elite families until it was purchased by Prince Eugene of Savoy for 100 ducats.  Upon the prince's death in 1737 the map was purchased for the Habsburg Imperial Court Library (Hofbibliothek) in Vienna. 

♦ In preparing his 2010 book Rome's World: The Peutinger Map Reconsidered, historian Richard Talbert collaborated with the staff of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and with ISAW's Digital Programs team at New York University, to produce digital tools to record and analyze the map. These were published online, and could be accessed in October 2013: 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Travels of Niccolo and Maffeo Polo 1266

A map illustrating both the first and second Polo expeditions. (View Larger)

In 1266 Venetian traders Niccolò and Maffeo Polo, the father and uncle of Marco Polo, were among the first Westerners to travel the Silk Road to China. Before the birth of Marco, they established trading posts in Constantinople, Sudak in the Crimea, and in a western part of the Mongol Empire. In 1266 the Polos reached the seat of Kublai Kahn in the Mongol capital Khanbaliq, Khanbaliq or Dadu (also Ta-Tu or Daidu), now Beijing.

Marco Polo, who wrote the famous account of the travels of his father and uncle, did not accompany them on this expedition.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Carrying the Pope's Response to Kublai Khan 1271

A map of the Polos' eastward journey, begun in 1271. (View Larger)

In 1271 Maffeo and Niccolò Polo set out on a second journey carrying Pope Clement IV's response to Kublai Khan, in 1271. This time Niccolò took his son Marco. When Marco Polo arrived at Kublai Khan's court he became a favorite of the khan and was employed in China for 17 years. "In the 8th Year of Zhiyuan (1271), Kublai Khan officially declared the creation of the Yuan Dynasty, and proclaimed the capital to be at Dadu (Chinese: 大都; Wade–Giles: Ta-tu, lit. "Great Capital", known as Daidu to the Mongols, at today's Beijing) in the following year. His summer capital was in Shangdu (Chinese: 上都, "Upper Capital", a.k.a. Xanadu, near what today is Dolonnur)" (Wikipedia article on Kublai Kahn, accessed 01-25-2012).

"In his book, Il Milione, Marco explains how Kubilai officially received the Polos and sent them back — with a Mongol named Koeketei as an ambassador to the Pope. They brought with them a letter from the Khan requesting educated people to come and teach Christianity and Western customs to his people, and the paiza, a golden tablet a foot long and three inches wide, authorizing the holder to require and obtain lodging, horses and food throughout the Great Khan's dominion. Koeketei left in the middle of the journey, leaving the Polos to travel alone to Ayas in the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia. From that port city, they sailed to Saint Jean d'Acre, capital of the Kingdom of Jerusalem."  

"The long sede vacante — between the death of Pope Clement IV, in 1268, , and the election of Pope Gregory X, in 1271— prevented the Polos from fulfilling Kublai’s request. As suggested by Theobald Visconti, papal legate for the realm of Egypt, in Acres for the Ninth Crusade, the two brothers returned to Venice in 1269 or 1270, waiting for the nomination of the new Pope (Wikipedia article on Niccolò and Marco Polo, accessed 04-04-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Lure and Romance of Travel to the East 1298 – 1299

Folio 54r from a facsimile of 'Le divisament dou monde,' preserved at the University of Graz, in Germany. (View Larger)

While in prison in Genoa from 1298 to 1299 Marco Polo supposedly dictated a book to a romance writer, Rustichello da Pisa. His work, which was very frequently copied, was a rare popular success in the period before printing. 

"The impact of Polo's book on cartography was delayed: the first map in which some names mentioned by Polo appear was in the Catalan Atlas of Charles V (1375), which included thirty names in China and a number of other Asian toponyms. In the mid-fifteenth century the cartographer of Murano, Fra Mauro, meticulously included all of Polo's toponyms in his map of the world. Marco Polo's description of the Far East and its riches inspired Christopher Columbus's decision to try to reach Asia by sea, in a westward route. A heavily annotated copy of Polo's book was among the belongings of Columbus. Polo's writings included descriptions of cannibals and spice growers" (Wikipedia article on The Travels of Marco Polo, accessed 04-04-2010).

"His book, Il Milione (the title comes from either 'The Million', then considered a gigantic number, or from Polo's family nickname Emilione), was written in the Old French and entitled Le divisament dou monde ('The description of the world'). The book was soon translated into many European languages and is known in English as The Travels of Marco Polo. The original is lost, and we have several often-conflicting versions of the translations. The book became an instant success — quite an achievement in a time when printing was not known in Europe."

Christopher Columbus's annotated copy of 'Il Milione.' (View Larger)

"An authoritative version of Marco Polo's book does not exist, and the early manuscripts differ significantly. The published versions of his book either rely on single scripts, blend multiple versions together or add notes to clarify, for example in the English translation by Henry Yule. Another English translation by A.C. Moule and Paul Pelliot, published in 1938, is based on the Latin manuscript which was found in the library of the Cathedral of Toledo in 1932, and is 50% longer than other versions. Approximately 150 variants in various languages are known to exist, and without the availability of a printing press many errors were made during copying and translation, resulting in many discrepancies" (Wikipedia article on Marco Polo, accessed 01-29-2010).

Marco Polo's work was first published in print in a German translation issued by printer Friedrich Creussner of Nuremberg in 1475 under the title of Hie hebt sich an das puch des edeln Ritters vnd landtfarers Marcho Polo, in dem er schreibt die grossen wunderlichen ding dieser welt Übers. aus dem Ital ISTC No.: ip00901000. A Latin edition followed in 1483-84. Two editions in Italian appeared in 1496 and 1500. In December 2012 a digital facsimile of the first German edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link. The title page consists of a full-page woodcut surrounded by the verbose title.

♦ From the standpoint of printing before its invention in the West, Polo's work contained the earliest detailed account of Chinese printed paper money that was widely available in Europe. It was through Polo's account, and possibly by seeing actual examples of Chinese paper money, that Europeans may have first learned about printing. Carter, Invention of Printing in China 2nd ed (1955) 109-11.

In spite of its wide fame, recent scholars question whether Marco Polo actually went to China.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1300 – 1400

The Hereford Mappa Mundi, "The Greatest Extant Thirteenth Century Pictorial Manuscript" Circa 1300

The Hereford Mappa Mundi. (View Larger)

The Hereford Mappa Mundi preserved at Hereford Cathedral, in Hereford, England, was drawn by "Richard of Haldingham or Lafford" (Holdingham and Sleaford in Lincolnshire) about 1300.  

"Superimposed on to the continents are drawings of the history of humankind and the marvels of the natural world. These 500 or so drawings include images of around 420 cities and towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 plants, animals, birds and strange creatures, 32 images of the peoples of the world and 8 pictures from classical mythology. '... it is without parallel the most important and most celebrated medieval map in any form, . . . and certainly the greatest extant thirteenth-century pictorial manuscript" (Christopher de Hamel, quoted on the Hereford Cathedral website, accessed 07-16-2011)."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Most Accurate World Map for Three Centuries Circa 1300

A reproduction of Tabula Rogeriana. (View Larger)

Of the ten surviving manuscript copies of the Kitab Rudjdjar (literally "The book of Roger" in Arabic) or Tabula Rogeriana, the earliest surviving copy, preserved in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (MS Arabe 2221), has been dated to about 1300. It is copy of a world map drawn in 1154 by the Arab geographer, Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi al-Qurtubi al-Hasani al-Sabti, or simply El Idrisi, or  Muhammad al-Idrisi.

"Al-Idrisi worked on the accompanying commentaries and illustrations of the map for eighteen years at the court of the Norman King Roger II of Sicily in Palermo. The map, written in Arabic, shows the Eurasian continent in its entirety, but only shows the northern part of the African continent. The map is actually oriented with the North at the bottom. It remained the most accurate world map for the next three centuries.

"Roger II of Sicily had his world map drawn on a circle of silver weighing about 400 pounds. The works of Al-Idrisi include Nozhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq - a compendium of the geographic and sociological knowledge of his time as well as descriptions of his own travels illustrated with over seventy maps; Kharitat al-`alam al-ma`mour min al-ard (Map of the inhabited regions of the earth) wherein he divided the world into 7 regions, the first extending from the equator to 23 degrees latitude, and the seventh being from 54 to 63 degrees followed by a region uninhabitable due to cold and snow.

On the work of al-Idrisi, S. P. Scott commented:

"The compilation of Edrisi marks an era in the history of science. Not only is its historical information most interesting and valuable, but its descriptions of many parts of the earth are still authoritative. For three centuries geographers copied his maps without alteration. The relative position of the lakes which form the Nile, as delineated in his work, does not differ greatly from that established by Baker and Stanley more than seven hundred years afterwards, and their number is the same. The mechanical genius of the author was not inferior to his erudition. The celestial and terrestrial planisphere of silver which he constructed for his royal patron was nearly six feet in diameter, and weighed four hundred and fifty pounds; upon the one side the zodiac and the constellations, upon the other-divided for convenience into segments-the bodies of land and water, with the respective situations of the various countries, were engraved" (Wikipedia article on Muhammad al-Idrisi, accessed 01-12-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Gough Map: The Oldest Surviving Road Map of Great Britain and the First Map to Depict a Recognizably Accurate Picture of Britain's Coastline Circa 1360

Named after English antiquarian, collector and scholar Richard Gough, who donated the map to the Bodleian Library in 1809, the Gough Map or Bodleian Map is the oldest surviving road map of Great Britain. Gough is believed to have acquired the map from the collection of lawyer, antiquarian and collector "Honest Tom" Martin in 1774. As Gough wrote in 1780, 

"The late Mr. Thomas Martin shewed to the same society (Soc. of Antiquaries) at the same time (1768) a map on vellum, which he supposed to be of the age of Edward III in which the names of London and York were distinguished by large gold letters.  This map I purchased at a sale of his MSS, 1774, and shall subjoin the following account of it, to illustrate the copy made by Mr. Basire, pl VI.  It is drawn on two skins of vellum, in a style superior to any of the maps already described... The roads are marked by lines, and even the miles in each stage.  But the greatest merit of this map is, that it may justly boast itself the first among us wherein the roads and distances are laid down" (Gough, British Topography. Or, an Historical Account of What has been Done for Illustrating the Topographical Antiquities of Great Britain and Ireland [1780] 76).

In June 2015 I found the remarkable website at www.goughmap.org  entitled Linguistic Geographies: The Gough Map of Great Britain, which is most highly recommended. Besides interpretive essays, and a new paleographical study of the writing of place names on the map, and a bibliography, the site offers a digital, searchable version of the map.

"The map's authorship is also unknown. It is thought that much of the information about the map was gained from either one or more men who travelled around Great Britain as part of Edward I's military expeditions into Wales and Scotland. The areas of the map's fringe with the most accurate detail often correspond with those areas in which Edward's troops were present. The accuracy of the map in the South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire areas suggest that the author could be from this region. However, it is also possible that the map was constructed based upon the collation of various people's local knowledge. For example, the cartographic accuracy in Oxfordshire could be explained by the fact that [Bishop] William Rede, Fellow of Merton College, had successfully calculated the geographic coordinates for Oxford in 1340.

"The Gough Map is important due to its break with previous theologically-based mapping. It was the first to show the road network of England, though there are some notable and confusing omissions, such as large sections of Watling Street. The use of numerals to indicate road distances in leagues is unique in comparison to all other pre-17th century maps of Britain. It was also the first map to depict a recognisably accurate picture of Britain's coast, although the accuracy is much greater in England than in Scotland, at the time part of another kingdom. Towns are shown in some detail, with London and York written in gold lettering and other principal settlements illustrated in detail. Despite its accuracy, the map does contain a number of other errors. Notably, islands and lakes such as Anglesey and Windermere are oversized, whilst the strategic importance of rivers is shown by their emphasis. Well known but geographically small features such as the Peninsula in Durham are also overly-prominent. The map contains numerous references to mythology as if they were geographical fact, as illustrated by comments about Brutus' mythical landings in Devon. Nevertheless, it remains the most accurate map of Britain prior to the 16th century" (Wikipedia article on Gough Map, accessed 07-16-2011).

(This entry was last revised on 06-20-2015.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the Most Beautiful Medieval Atlases 1375

In 1375 the Catalan Atlas (Atles català), an exquisitely beautiful cosmography, perpetual calendar, and thematic representation of the known world, was produced by the Majorcan cartographic school. Creation of the atlas has been attributed to Cresques Abraham (Abraham Cresques), a Jewish cartographer from Palma, Majorca (Mallorca).

"The Catalan Atlas originally consisted of six vellum leaves folded down the middle, painted in various colors including gold and silver. The leaves are now cut in half. Each half-leaf is mounted on one side of five wooden panels. The first half of the first leaf and the second half of the last leaf are mounted on the inner boards of a brown leather binding. Each measures approximately 65 × 50 cm. The overall size is therefore 65 × 300 cm.

"The first two leaves contain texts in Catalan language covering cosmography, astronomy, and astrology. These texts are accompanied by illustrations. The texts and illustration emphasize the Earth's spherical shape and the state of the known world. They also provide information to sailors on tides and how to tell time at night.

"The four remaining leaves make up the actual map, which is divided into two principal parts. The map shows illustrations of many cities, whose political allegiances are symbolized by a flag. Christian cities are marked with a cross, other cities with a dome. Wavy blue vertical lines are used to symbolize oceans. Place names of important ports are transcribed in red, while others are indicated in black.

"Unlike many other nautical charts, the Catalan Atlas is read with the north at the bottom. As a result of this the maps are oriented from left to right, from the Far East to the Atlantic" (Wikipedia article on Catalan Atlas, accessed 01-11-2013).

Since the 14th century reign of Charles V of France the Catalan atlas has been preserved in the Bibliothèque royale de France (now the Bibliothèque nationale de France.)

An authoritative reference is The Creques Project of Gabriel Llompart and Jaume Riera, accessed 10-11-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Oldest Map of Africa Circa 1390

A portion of the Dun Ming Hun Yi Tu, or The Great Amalgamated Map, showing the African continent. (View Larger)

The Great Ming Amalgamated Map, or Da Ming Hun Yi Tu (Chinese: 大明混一圖; pinyin: dàmíng hùnyī tú, Manchu: dai ming gurun-i uherilehe nirugan) world map, was created in China about 1390. It was painted in colour on stiff silk and 386 x 456cm in size. The original text was written in Classical Chinese, but Manchu labels were later superimposed. It is one of the oldest surviving world maps from East Asia although the exact date of creation remains unknown. It depicts the general form of the Old World, placing China in the center and stretching northward to Mongolia, southward to Java, eastward to central Japan, and westward to Africa and Europe. It is considered the oldest map of the African continent, and may have been a copy of a map sculpted into rock.

The map is preserved in the First Historical Archive of China, Beijing.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1400 – 1450

Medieval Mappa Mundi, Stolen during an Auction 1411 – 1419

The De Virga world map. (View Larger

The De Virga world map, drawn by Albertinus de Virga, contained a mention in small letters:

"A. 141.. Albertin diuirga me fecit in vinexia"
"Made by Albertinius de Virga in Venice in 141.."

(the last number of the date is erased by a fold in the map)

The map was "discovered" in a second-hand bookshop in 1911 in Srebrenica, Bosnia by Albert Figdor, a map collector, and it was analysed by Franz Von Weiser of the Austrian State University in Vienna. Authenticated photographs were taken at the time, which are preserved in the British Library. Regrettably the original map was stolen during an auction in 1932, and has never been recovered.  It may have been a source for the Venetian Fra Mauro map (circa 1450), with which it is generally consistent.

"The map is oriented to the North, with a wind rose centered in Central Asia, possibly the observatory of astronomer, mathematician and sultan, Ulugh Begh, in the Mongol city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan, or the western shore of the Caspian sea. The wind rose divides the map in eight sectors.

"The map is colored: the seas are left white, although the Red Sea is colored in red. Continental land is colored in yellow, and several colors are used for islands. The mountains are in brown, the lakes are in blue, and rivers are in brown.

"The extension shows a calendar with depictions of the signs of the zodiac and a table to calculate lunar positions"  (Wikipedia article on De Virga world map, accessed 01-12-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Earliest Known Treatise on Shipbuilding 1434

Page 145b of A Mariner's Knowledge, by Michael of Rhodes, depicting a completed galley ship.

In 1434 Michael of Rhodes, a Venetian galley commander, wrote a manuscript describing his knowledge of mathematics, ships and shipbuilding, navigation, and time reckoning. It contains some of the earliest surviving portolan aids to navigation and the world's first known treatise on shipbuilding.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Historical Geography 1448 – 1458

Between 1448 and 1458 Italian humanist, historian and proto-archaeologist Flavio Biondo (Flavius Blondus) of Rome published Italia illustrata. Based on Biondo's personal travels through eighteen Italian provinces, this was the first historical geography.

"Unlike medieval geographers, whose focus was regional, Biondo, taking Strabo for his model, reinstated the idea of Italy to include the whole of the peninsula. Through topography, he intended to link Antiquity with modern times, with descriptions of each location, the etymology of its toponym and its changes through time, with a synopsis of important events connected with each location. This first historical geography starts with the Roman Republic and Empire, through 400 years of barbarian invasions and an analysis of Charlemagne and later Holy Roman Emperors. He gives an excellent description of the humanist revival and restoration of the classics during the first half of the fifteenth century." (Wikipedia article on Flavio Biondo, accessed 02-02-2013).

Italia illustrata was edited by Gaspar Blondus and first published in print by Johannes Philippus de Lignamine of Rome "[not before 10] December 1474." ISTC No. ib00700000.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1450 – 1500

"The Greatest Memorial of Medieval Cartography" Circa 1450

The Fra Mauro map, created by the monk around 1450, is oriented with the South at the top, and depicts Asia, Africa, and Europe. The artistry is exceptionally detailed, and quite acurate for its time. (View Larger)

About 1450 Venetian monk Fra Mauro completed the Fra Mauro map, a circular planisphere drawn on parchment and set in a wooden frame, about two meters in diameter. The map was discovered in the monastery of San Michel in Isola, Murano, where the Camaldolese cartographer had his studio. It is preserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.

"The Fra Mauro map is unusual, but typical of Fra Mauro's portolan charts, in that its orientation is with the south at the top, one of the usual conventions of Muslim maps, in contrast with the Ptolemy map which has the north at the top.

"Fra Mauro was aware of the Ptolemy map, and commented that it was insufficient for many parts of the world:

"I do not think it derogatory to Ptolemy if I do not follow his Cosmografia, because, to have observed his meridians or parallels or degrees, it would be necessary in respect to the setting out of the known parts of this circumference, to leave out many provinces not mentioned by Ptolemy. But principally in latitude, that is from south to north, he has much 'terra incognita', because in his time it was unknown." (Text from Fra Mauro map)

"He recognized however the extent of the East given by Ptolemy, thereby suppressing the central position that Jerusalem had held on previous maps:

"Jerusalem is indeed the center of the inhabited world latitudinally, though longitudinally it is somewhat to the west, but since the western portion is more thickly populated by reason of Europe, therefore Jerusalem is also the center longitudinally if we regard not empty space but the density of population." (Text from Fra Mauro map)

"Fra Mauro regarded the world as a sphere, although he used the convention of describing the continents surrounded by water within the shape of a disc, but had no certainty about the size of the Earth:

"Likewise I have found various opinions regarding this circumference, but it is not possible to verify them. It is said to be 22,500 or 24,000 miglia or more, or less according to various considerations and opinions, but they are not of much authenticity, since they have not been tested." (Text from Fra Mauro map)

"The depiction of inhabited places and mountains, the map's chorography, is also an important feature. Castles and cities are identified by pictorial glyphs representing turreted castles or walled towns, distinguished in order of their importance."

"Fra Mauro also probably relied on Arab sources. This is suggested by the North-South inversion of the map, an Arab tradition examplified by the 12th century maps of Muhammad al-Idrisi, and the detailed information on the southeastern coast of Africa, which was brought by an Ethiopian embassy to Rome in the 1430s" (Wikipedia article on Fra Mauro map, accessed 01-12-2009).

A critical edition of the map was published by Piero Falchetta in 2006.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Library of Hartmann Schedel, One of the Largest Libraries Formed by an Individual in the 15th Century 1450 – 1571

A woodcut from the Nuremburg Chronicle, showing Erfurt, 1493.

Portrait of Johann Jakob Fugger, 1541.

16th century portrait of Albert V, Duke of Bavaria by Hans Mielich.

The library of Hartmann Schedel, physician and author of the Nuremberg Chronicle, was unequalled in fifteenth-century Germany. Schedel was interested in virtually all areas of knowledge of the late Middle Ages: rhetoric, astronomy, philosophy, classical and humanist literature, historiography, geography and cosmography, medicine, law, and theology. As early as the 1450s and 1460s, during his studies at the universities of Leipzig and Padua, he transcribed many works in his own hand. Later Schedel took advantage of the growing supply of printed books in Nuremberg, a center of European trade and publishing. He also made use of an international network of correspondents and suppliers to acquire new publications from other places. At the end of his long life, Schedel's library comprised nearly 700 volumes, including many composite volumes with several items. 

Even though Schedel stipulated in his last will that his library should remain a family heirloom, Schedel's grandson and heir, Melchior (1516-1571), an imperial soldier, sold his grandfather's books to the Augsburg merchant Johann Jakob Fugger in 1552. In 1571 Fugger sold his library, incorporating Schedel's, to Duke Albert V of Bavaria. It became the cornerstone of the what is now the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Today, more than 370 manuscripts and 460 printed items from Schedel's collection are preserved in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. This is the largest private collection of books that survived from fifteenth century Germany.

In November 2014, honoring the 500th anniversary of Schedel's death, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek opened a physical and virtual exhibition of books from Schedel's library. In November 2014 the home page of the virtual exhibition, with links to many downloads of digital editions, including all five editions of the Nuremberg Chronicle, was available at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

First Printed Edition of the Only Formal Roman Treatise on Geography September 25, 1471

On September 25, 1471 printer Antonius Zarotus (Antonio Zaroto), "with the material of Pamfilo Castaldi," issued from Milan, Italy, Cosmographia, sive De situ orbis by the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela. Pomponius Mela's text, of which this was the first printed edition, was the only surviving formal treatise on geography by a Roman author. It was widely copied and used during the Middle Ages. Nine printed editions appeared during the 15th century.

Printer Zarotus worked as foreman for the Milanese prototypographer Pamfilo (Panfilo, Pamphilo) Castaldi in 1471, before entering into partnership with Gabriel de Ossonibus and others in May 1472. The surviving contract, published in 1745 in Milan by Giuseppe Antonio Sassi (Saxius) in his Historia literario-typographica Mediolanensis, is one of the most detailed records of such an arrangement so early in the printing business.

ISTC No.: im00447000

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Printed Edition of Isidore's "Etymologiae" Includes the First Map Included in a Printed Book November 19, 1472

Earliest printed example of a classical T and O map (by Günther Zainer, Augsburg, 1472), illustrating the first page of chapter XIV of the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville. It shows the continents as domains of the sons of Noah: Sem (Shem), Lafeth (Japheth) and Cham (Ham).

Detail from portrait of Isidore of Seville. Please click to view entire image.

Title page with T and O map.

On November 19, 1472 printer Gunther Zainer of Augsburg, Germany, issued the Etymologiae of archbishop Isidore of Seville. A medieval encyclopedia written in the seventh century, it contained a simple diagramatic world map in the so-called "T-O" style. This woodcut has been called the first map included in a printed book. It depicts the continent of Asia as peopled by descendants of Sem or Shem, Africa by descendants of Ham, and Europe by descendants of Japheth, the sons of Noah.

"Isidore taught in the Etymologiae that the Earth was round "resembl[ing] a wheel". This is the same description used by the early Greek philosopher Anaximander for the sun before any spherical ideas emerged. Most writers think he referred to a disc-shaped Earth though some believe that he considered the Earth to be globular.  He did not admit the possibility of people dwelling at the antipodes, considering them as legendary and noting that there was no evidence for their existence. Isidore's round map, which is essentially that of Anaximander, continued to be used through the Middle Ages by authors such as the 9th century bishop Rabanus Maurus who compared the habitable part of the northern hemisphere (Aristotle's northern temperate clime) with a wheel.

"In Book III he says 'At the same time [the sun] rises it appears equally to a person in the east as a person in the west', implying that it is flat. But for north and south he follows works such as the Topographia Christiana saying the earth is raised up towards the northern region and declines to the south. The fact that Sysebut uses the word globus meaning a sphere, in a letter to Isidore, whereas Isidore sticks to the word orbis, meaning circle or disk, confirms this" (Wikipedia article on Etymologiae, accessed 06-04-2011).

ISTC no. ii00181000.  In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First "Modern" Printed Map: Lucas Brandis' Map of the Holy Land August 5, 1475

The map of the Holy Land, with Jerusalem in its center, published in Rudimentum novitiorum sive chronicarum historiarum epitome issued in Lübeck on August 5, 1475 by printer Lucas Brandis, is considered the first modern printed map because it was derived from original Medieval observations rather than classical sources, such as Ptolemy of Alexandria. The geographical information on the map was derived from a now-lost manuscript map made in the 13th century by Burchard of Mount Sion, a German Dominican pilgrim in Palestine for 10 years between 1274 to 1284, and author of Descriptio Terræ Sanctæ

Brandis's version of Burchard's map presents a bird's-eye view of Palestine oriented with the east at the top, with the walled city of Jerusalem in the center, Sidon and Damascus in the north, and the Red Sea in the south. Various Biblical scenes are depicted including Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, God appearing before him in the burning bush, and Pharaoh's men drowning in the Red Sea. Eight heads around the periphery represent the winds and compass directions. 

Brandis's map was preceded in printed literature only by Isidore's simple T-O schematic diagram (1472). His map precedes the first published atlas - an edition of Ptolemy's classical geography (Bologna, 1477) by two years.

In November 2014 a facsimile of Brandis's complete Rudimentum novitiorum, containing the map of the Holy Land, was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

ISTC No. ir00345000. Laor, Maps of the Holy Land , 128. Campbell, The Early Printed Maps 1472-1500, 214.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Printed Edition of the First Geography Contains No Maps September 13, 1475

On September 13, 1475 Claudius Ptolemaeus's (Ptolemy's) Cosmographia or Geographia, translated from Greek into Latin by humanist Giacomo d'Angelo da Scarperia (Jacopo d’Angelo (Jacopus Angelus) da Scarperia), and edited by Angelius Vadius and Barnabas Picardus, was first published as a printed book in Vicenza, Italy by Hermannus Liechtenstein, without any maps.

ISTC no. ip01081000.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The first illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, the First Book with Engraved Maps 1477

Detail of map from Ptolemy's Cosmographia showing the southeastern coast of Spain.  Click on the link to view and enlarge the entire page from the book.

In 1477 the first illustrated edition of Ptolemy's Cosmographia, translated by humanist Giacomo d'Angelo da Scarperia (Jacopo d’Angelo, Jacopus Angelus da Scarperia) and edited by  Philippus Beroaldus and others, was published in Bologna by Dominicus de Lapis, but with the erroneous colophon date of 23 June 1462. The edition contained 26 copperplate maps.

For a long time date on the colophon of this edition was thought to have been a misprint for 1482, but manuscripts found in Bologna set the publication date in 1477. "It thus becomes the first book with engraved maps, and also the first book with the maps by a known artist, the plates having been engraved by Taddeo Crevilli of Ferrara" (Lone, Some Noteworthy Firsts in Europe during the Fifteenth Century [1930]) 41).

In November 2013 a digital facsimile of Hartmann Schedel's copy of this work from the Bayersiche Staatsbibliothek, München, was available at this link.

ISTC no. ip01082000.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"La edifichation de molti pallazi & tempii & altri gradissimi edificii de roma", an Early Printed Guidebook to Rome, Known from a Single Surviving Copy 1480

An early printed guidebook to Rome, known for a single surviving copy preserved in the British Library, was issued in Venice in 1480. Its unnamed printer was later identified by bibliographers as Antonio di Alessandria della Paglia et Socii. The anonymous pamphlet, which consists of 12 unnumbered leaves, has no separate title. It's title begins the text: La edifichation de molti pallazi & tempii & altri gradissimi edificii de roma.

"Presumably, the author is a clergyman who was close to the margrave of Ancona, Giovanni Visconti da Ollegio (1304 ca. - 1366). According to the author himself he compiled the guide for a visit of the margrave's wife Antonia degli Benzoni to Rome in 1363. According to Ludwig Schudt [Le guide di Roma: Materialien zu einer Geschichte der römischen Topographie (1930)] it is a compilation of three works: The author translated and revised the Graphia auerae urbis Romae, the basic Mirabilia Romae and the Descriptio plenaria.

"However, the treatise is characterised by a strong personal touch. The author appears as first-person narrator and accompanies the reader on an imaginary trip through ancient Rome. The individuality of the account is provided by the sometimes ocurring emotional views on historical incidents, monuments, persons and deities as well as on quotations by Latin authors.

"In some passages the author adopts the systematic cataloguing of monuments from his sources. Individual inaccuracies concerning descriptions of monuments and quotations from the sources of classical and medieval authors can however be observed. Fiction and reality are closely linked here" (http://telota.bbaw.de/census/fulltext/Edificazione_Intro_en.html, accessed 11-30-2014).

In November 2014 the full text of the guidebook was available at this link.

ISTC No. ir00305200. A facsimile reproduction of the 1480 printed text is available in Five Early Guides to Rome and Florence with an Introduction by Peter Murray (1972).

Interestingly from the history of collecting standpoint, Pierre Charles Deschamps & Pierre Gustave Brunet were aware of the title, publishing a note about it in Vol.1 of their Supplement to Jean-Ch. Brunet's Manuel du Libraire (1878). Their entry, which appears on column 438 refers to copy catalogued by M. Tross in 1874 for 200 fr. Possibly this is the copy in the British Library.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First World Map to Show the Results of the Age of Discovery 1482

Detail of map from Pomponius Mela's Cosmographi geographia printed in 1482.  Please click to view entire image.

In 1482 printer Erhard Ratdolt of Venice issued Pomponius Mela's Cosmographia geographia. The edition included Dionysius Periegetes, De situ orbis. The woodcut world map in Ratdolt's edition was the first printed map to reflect the early voyages of the Age of Discovery.  Published only three years after the 1479 Treaty of Alcacovas, in which Portugal secured the Guinea coast, the Azores, Madiera, and the Cape Verde Islands, the map modified the traditional Ptolemaic rendering of western Africa to depict a more accurate, up-to-date coast, showing the Portuguese discoveries through the 1460s and 1470s that were absent from contemporary and preceding Ptolemaic maps and atlases, and a clear southeastern trend along the cost of west Africa.

"No earlier printed map recognized this important step towards the rounding of the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, and no map in the incunable editions of Ptolemy reflected this knowledge" (Campbell, Earliest Printed Maps, 91).

ISTC no.: im00452000. In March 2014 a digital facsimile was available from the National Library of Israel at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Breydenbach's "Peregrinatio in terram sanctam", the First Illustrated Travel Book: An International Bestseller February 11, 1486

In 1486 Bernhard von Breydenbach, a wealthy canon of Mainz Cathedral, issued a travel book very extensively illustrated with woocuts, describing his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. It was entitled Peregrinatio in terram sanctam or Sanctae peregrinationes.

Von Breydenbach made the pilgrimage in 1483-4, taking with him, as the book explains, "Erhard Reuwich of Utrecht", a "skillful artist", to make drawings of the sights. As the book relates, Reuwich printed the first Latin edition of the book in his own house in Mainz, and it is also very probable that because Reuwich was the printer he took the opportunity to identify himself as the artist, since the creators of book illustrations were rarely identified at this time.

"Leaving in April 1483 and arriving back in January 1484, they travelled first to Venice, where they stayed for three weeks. They then took ship for Corfu, Modon and Rhodes - all still Venetian possessions. After Jerusalem and Bethlehem and other sights of the Holy Land, they went to Mount Sinai and Cairo. After taking a boat down the Nile to Rosetta, they took ship back to Venice."

"The Sanctae Peregrinationes, or the Peregrinatio in terram sanctam, was the first illustrated travel-book, and marked a leap forward for book illustration generally. It featured five large fold-out woodcuts, the first ever seen in the West, including a spectacular five-foot-long (1600 x 300 mm) woodcut panoramic view of Venice, where the pilgrims had stayed for three weeks. The book also contained a three-block map of Palestine and Egypt, centred on a large view of Jerusalem, and panoramas of five other cities: Iraklion, Modon, Rhodes, Corfu and Parenzo. There were also studies of Near Eastern costume, and an Arabic alphabet—also the first in print. Pictures of animals seen on the journey, including a crocodile, camel, and unicorn, were also included.

"The colophon of the book is a lively coat-of-arms of the current Archbishop of Mainz, which includes the first cross-hatching in woodcut.

"The book was a bestseller, reprinted thirteen times over the next three decades, including printings in France and Spain, for which the illustration blocks were shipped out to the local printers. The first edition in German was published within a year of the Latin one, and it was also translated into French, Dutch and Spanish before 1500. Additional text-only editions and various abridged editions were also published.

"The illustrations were later adapted by Michael Wolgemut for the Nuremberg Chronicle of 1493, and much copied by various other publishers" (Wikipedia article on Erhard Reuwich, accessed 12-01-2008).

ISTC no. ib01189000. In November 2013 a digital facsimile was available from Universitäts und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt at this link.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Martin Behaim's "Erdapfel", the Oldest Surviving Terrestrial Globe 1492

Produced in 1492 by German mariner, artist, cosmographer, astronomer, philosopher, geographerm and explorer Martin Behaim, the Erdapfel (earth apple) is considered the oldest surviving terrestrial globe.

It was constructed from a laminated linen ball in two halves, reinforced with wood and overlaid with a map painted by Nuremberg woodblock cutter, engraver and printer Georg Glockendon. The globe does not include the Americas since Columbus did not return to Spain before March 1493. It shows an enlarged Eurasian continent and an empty ocean between Europe and Asia. Since 1907 it has been preserved in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Departure of Columbus for the New World & the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain July 30 – October 12, 1492

"In the same month in which their Majesties [Ferdinand and Isabella] issued the edict that all Jews should be driven out of the kingdom and its territories, in the same month they gave me the order to undertake with sufficient men my expedition of discovery to the Indies."

So begins the diary of Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo; Cristóbal Colón; Cristóvão Colombo). The expulsion to which Columbus refers was almost as important in Jewish history as the Voyage of Columbus was in American history. Following the terms of the Edict of Expulsion, or Alhambra Decree, on July 31, 1492 those Jews who did not convert to Christianity were expelled from Spain. Estimates of the number of Jews expelled range from 130,000 to 800,000. It is thought that Jews represented at least 10% of the population of Spain before the expulsion.  Some of the expelled Jews were accepted in Holland, and some in Italy, but most settled in the Ottoman Empire or in Africa.

"On the evening of August 3, 1492, Columbus departed from Palos de la Frontera with three ships; one larger carrack, Santa María, nicknamed Gallega (the Galician), and two smaller caravels, Pinta (the Painted) and Santa Clara, nicknamed Niña after her owner Juan Niño of Moguer. They were property of Juan de la Cosa and the Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso and Vicente Yáñez), but the monarchs forced the Palos inhabitants to contribute to the expedition. Columbus first sailed to the Canary Islands, which were owned by Castile, where he restocked the provisions and made repairs. On September 6, he departed San Sebastián de la Gomera for what turned out to be a five-week voyage across the ocean" (Wikipedia article on Christopher Columbus, accessed 01-10-2008).

At 2 AM on October 12, 1492 a sailor aboard the Pinta named Rodrigo de Triana (Juan Rodríguez Bermejo) sighted land in the New World. This was an island in the Lucayan Archipelago of the Bahamas called by the natives Guanahani, which Columbus named San Salvador.

"Exactly which island in the Bahamas this corresponds to is unresolved. Prime candidates are Samana Cay, Plana Cays, or San Salvador Island (so named in 1925 in the belief that it was Columbus's San Salvador)" (Wikipedia article on Christopher Columbus, accessed 01-03-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Columbus's Description of the New World: the First Eyewitness Report to Become a Bestseller; in 2016, Reports of a Theft and Forgery of a Copy of the Third Edition February 15, 1493

Aboard the caravel Niña on February 15, 1493, sailing back from the New World, Christopher Columbus wrote an open letter to the monarchs of Spain, describing his monumental discoveries. When he docked in Lisbon on March 14, 1493 Columbus added a postscript and sent the letter to the Escribano de Racion, Luis de Santangel, finance minister to Ferdinand II and the high steward or comptroller of the king's household expenditures. Santagel had convinced  Isabella I to back Columbus's voyage eight months earlier, and Santagel was the first convey the news of Columbus's success to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.

Santagel promptly turned over the text of Columbus's letter to printer Pedro Posa in Barcelona, and through its different printed editions which followed in close succession, Columbus's letter became the first bestselling eyewitness news account. The sequence of the earliest editions was as follows:

1. As early as April 1, 1493, Posa issued a 4-page pamphlet in small folio entitled Epistola de insulis nuper inventis (Letter on Newly Discovered Islands). Only one copy of the original printing survives. It was discovered in Spain in 1889, and passed through the hands of antiquarian bookseller Maisonneuve in Paris before reaching antiquarian bookseller Bernard Quaritch in 1890. In 1892 Quaritch sold it to the Lenox Library founded by James Lenox. This library later merged with the New York Public Library where the pamphlet is preserved today. (ISTC no. ic00756000.)

2. The second edition, published in Spanish in Valladolid, also survives only in a single copy. (ISTC no. ic00756500.)

3. The third edition, in Latin, was published in Rome by Stephen Plannck, probably in early May 1493. (ISTC no. ic00757000.)

On May 18, 2016 The New York Times reported that a copy of this edition was being returned by the Library of Congress to the Biblioteca Riccardiana Library in Florence, from which it had been stolen years ago, and replaced with a forgery. In 1990 the stolen copy was purchased an unidientified Swiss collector, and purchased by an unidentified New York dealer who consigned it to Christie's in New York, where it was sold in 1992 for $330,000. The copy was purchased at auction by an unidentified private collector who donated it to the Library of Congress in 2004. The seizure warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware filed on August 6, 2014 reflects an extremely high level of bibliographical sophistication and forensic analysis, distinguishing between the authentic copy which was stolen and the forged copy which remained in the Riccardiana.

4. The first illustrated edition, with woodcuts supposedly copied from drawings by Columbus, was issued by Michael Furter, for Johann Bergmann, de Olpe, in Basel, Switzerland, probably in May, 1493. (ISTC no. ic00760000.) 

♦ In November 2013 a digital facsimile of the Basel 1493 edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link

5Giuliano Dati translated the letter into Italian verse for publication in Rome June 15, 1493. (ISTC no. id00045890). Dati's version was reprinted in Florence and Brescia in 1493. Of each printing of Dati's version only one copy survived.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 35.

(This entry was last revised on 05-18-2016.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Nuremberg Chronicle June 12 – December 23, 1493

June 12, 1493 printer Anton Koberger of Nuremberg completed the printing and issued the Liber chronicarum written by physician Hartmann Schedel. A large-folio compendium of history, geography and natural wonders, the Liber chronicarum contained 298 printed leaves, including 1,809 illustrations from 645 woodcuts by or after painter and woodengraver Michael Wohlgemut (Wohlgemuth), his stepson Wilhelm Plydenwurff, and possibly some by Koberger's godson, the young Albrecht Dürer, who was apprenticed to Wohlgemut until 1490. Certain woodcuts were reproduced more than once, sometimes for the depiction of different people or cities. The images included a full-sheet map of Europe, a Ptolemaean world map, large and small city views, biblical and historical scenes, and portraits.

In November 2013 a digital facsimile of the Latin edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link

"From the outset, however, a German-language version had been planned. Translated by Georg Alt (c. 1450-1510), the city treasurer of Nuremberg, who assisted Schedel in compiling the Latin edition, the German edition was published on December 23, 1493. In addition to cosmetic differences (e.g., the Latin edition was printed using a typeface known as Antiqua Rotunda, while the German employed Bastarda Schwabacher), the German edition is very slightly abridged, with omissions that include certain abstruse thoughts as well as seeming repetitions. Occasionally, however, the German Chronicle includes minor but telling expansions on the Latin text. For example, in the Latin version one is told that a certain idea "can be found in Ovid" (folio IIr); the German version, however, informs its readers that this same idea "was elegantly expressed by Ovid, a poet." Such differences point to slightly different readerships: the Latin was aimed at the imperial, theological, and academic markets; the German at the upper middle class who did not possess a university education. Scholars estimate that approximately 1400-1500 Latin copies and 700-1000 German ones were printed. " (http://www.beloit.edu/nuremberg/inside/about/editions.htm, accessed 11-06-2012). 

In November 2013 a digital facsimile of the German translation was available from the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Weimar, at this link.

Though the information in the Nuremberg Chronicle was rapidly superceded, it remained famous for its extraordinary graphic design, its printing, its woodcuts and descriptions of cities. One of the woodcuts depicted the paper mill established in Nuremberg by Ulman Stromer in 1390. Probably because it was such a large and impressive volume, the work was a great commercial success, with unusually large printings for a fifteenth century book:

"The Latin edition was printed in at least 1400 copies, of which more than 1200 still exist today" (Wagner, Als die Lettern laufen lernten. Medienwandel im 15. Jahrhundert [2009] no. 11 (describing the annotated copy of the author, Hartmann Schedel, which is preserved at the Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, Munich).

Most probably fewer copies of the German edition were printed, as it remains rarer on the market. Between roughly 1980 and 2009 there were 188 auction sales recorded for the Latin edition and 35 sales of the German edition, some sales presumably representing the same copies being resold.

In order to print and sell so many copies of an expensive book in the fifteenth century the printer Anton Koberger had to employ a geographically wide network of partners and sales agents.

"A revealing indication of the extent of Koberger's business is provided by a document of 1509, drawn up as a final settlement of the contract between partners involved in the production and sale of the Nuremberg Chronicle. This accounting reveals a network of outlets spread far and wide throughout Europe. We know that the Nuremberg Chronicle sold well, because there are at least 1,200 surviving copies logged in libraries today. But in 1509 there were still 600 copies unsold. For copies previously supplied debts were logged against the accounts of booksellers spread through the Germanic world: at Lübeck and Danzig, Passau and Vienna, Ingoldstadt, Augsburg and Munich. Linhard Tascher still had to settle for just over a hundred copies sent to him at Posen and Breslau (presumably for sale in Silesia); eighty-three Latin and twenty-eight German. A separate consignment of mostly Latin copies had been dispatched to Cracow. The Koberger agency in Lyon had to account for forty-one copies, and several hundred had been dispatched to agents in Italy, at Bologna, Florence and Genoa. Peter Vischer, the agent at Milan, had received the largest consignment for distribution in the peninsula, of which almost 200 remained unsold. The Venice agent, Anthoni Kolb, had just thirty-four left. Bearing in mind that these represent the unsold residue of what had been a very large edition, the geographical reach of Koberger's enterprise was every bit as impressive as the Venetian network of the previous decades. The bold confidence with which Koberger had taken on the Italian market was especially striking, even if transalpine demand for this masterpiece of German typography had ultimately not matched expectations" (Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance [2010] 77-78).

Remarkably, the original manuscript exemplars showing the exact arrangement of the text and illustrations for both the Latin and German editions, as well has other original documents pertaining to the publication of these works, were preserved. The exemplar for the Latin edition is in the Stadbibliothek Nürnberg. The exemplar for the German edition is in the Nuremberg City Library. Adrian Wilson, a book designer and historian of book design from San Francisco, issued an outstanding book in which he showed the relationship between these manuscript exemplars and the printed editions: The Making of the Nuremberg Chronicle (1976).

Perhaps in 1941 an English translation of the Nuremberg Chronicle was prepared by Walter W. Schmauch of Chicago. This existed as a typescript for many years, preserved in the Rare Book Department of the Free Library of Philadelphia.  The title page of the translation, of which I obtained a complete xerographic copy decades ago, reads: First English Edition of the Nuremberg Chronicle. Being the Liber Chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel, A. D. 1493. Translated from the First German Edition by Walter W. Schmauch of Chicago with Text Annotations and Woodcut Elucidations in Six Volumes.  The translation extends to at least 2000 pages of typescript. In 2003 Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin collaborated on publishing Schmauch's entire translation online; in November 2014 it was available at this link.

ISTC no. is00307000 (Latin). ISTC no. is00309000 (German). Both of these entries provide censuses of the many institutions which hold copies of the respective editions.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Probably the Earliest European Depiction of Native Americans 1494

In May 2013 art restorers at the Vatican completed the cleaning of a 15th century fresco by Bernardino di Betto, called Pinturicchio (Pintoricchio), entitled The Resurrection. After centuries of dirt and grime had been removed from the fresco commissioned by Pope Alexander VI, behind the depiction of the open tomb above which Christ had risen, a small depiction of native men wearing feather headresses and dancing became visible. One of the natives in the fresco appears to have a mohawk hairstyle.

The depiction of Native Americans in the painting, which is believed to have been completed in 1494, corresponds to Christopher Columbus's account of being greeted in the nude world by dancing nude men painted black or red. In March 1493 Columbus returned to Spain from his first voyage to the New World, and news of his experiences rapidly spread throughout Europe. 

Prior to the discovery of the Pinturicchio image it was believed that the earliest surviving European depictions of Native Americans were those painted in the later 16th century by the British artist John White, governor of Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island. White's paintings are preserved in the print room of the British Museum.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1500 – 1550

Newly Discovered: The Earliest Surviving Globe Showing the New World Circa 1504

On August 19, 2013 The Portolan, the journal of the Washington Map Society, published in its issue 87 an article by Stefaan Missinne describing "A New Discovered Early Sixteenth-Century Globe Engraved on an Ostrich Egg. The Earliest Surviving Globe Showing the New World."

"The previously-unknown globe, which is about the size of a grapefruit, was made from the lower halves of two ostrich eggs, and dates from the very early 1500s. Until now, it was thought that the oldest globe to show the New World was the 'Lenox Globe' at the New York Public Library, but the author presents evidence that this Renaissance ostrich egg globe was actually used to cast the copper Lenox globe, putting its date c. 1504. The globe reflects the knowledge gleaned by Christopher Columbus and other very early European explorers including Amerigo Vespucci after whom America was named. The author points to Florence Italy as where the globe was made, and offers evidence that the engraver was influenced by or worked in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci.

"Tom Sander, Editor of The Portolan, who has personally inspected the globe, noted that 'This is a major discovery, and we are pleased to be the vehicle for its announcement. We undertook a very extensive peer review process to vet the article, which itself was based on more than a year of scientific and documentary research.' The author, S. Missinne, PhD. is an independent Belgian research scholar who has published on the subject of ancient globes made from different materials such as ivory. He said, 'When I heard of this globe, I was initially skeptical about its date, origin, geography and provenance, but I had to find out for myself. After all no one had known of it, and discoveries of this type are extremely rare. I was excited to look into it further, and the more I did so, and the more research that we did, the clearer it became that we had a major find.' The globe was purchased in 2012 at the London Map Fair from a dealer who said it had been in an 'important European collection' for many decades. The current owner made it available to the author for his research, which included scientific testing of the globe itself, computer tomography testing, and carbon dating, assessment of the ink used to color its engraved surface, and close geographical, cartographic, and historical analysis. More than 100 leading scholars and experts were consulted worldwide and are cited in the article’s acknowledgements, and gratitude was expressed to the New York Public Library for its helpful assistance.

"The globe contains ships of different types, monsters, intertwining waves, a shipwrecked sailor, and 71 place names, and one sentence , “HIC SVNT DRACONES” (Here are the Dragons). Only 7 of the names are in the Western Hemisphere. No names are shown for North America, which is represented as a group of scattered islands; three names are shown in South America (Mundus Novus or “New World”, Terra de Brazil, and Terra Sanctae Crucis, or”Land of the Holy Cross”). For many countries and territories in the world, (e.g. Japan, Brazil, Arabia) this is the oldest known engraved depiction on a globe. A full list of place names on the globe is included in the article, along with several illustrations."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Martin Waldseemüller Creates the First Map to Name America: A Wall Map & Globe Gores April 1507

A portion of the last surviving copy of the Waldseemüller map, made by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller in 1507, was the first published map to include the name 'America.' (View Larger)

Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque lustrationes, or the Waldseemüller Map, a large wall map of the world drawn by German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller, was one of the first maps to chart latitude and longitude precisely, following the example of Ptolemy, and the first map to use the name "America".

Waldseemüller also created globe gores, printed maps designed to be cut out and pasted onto spheres to form globes of the Earth. At the time he drew his wall map, Waldseemüller was working as part of the group of scholars of the Vosgean Gymnasium at Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in Lorraine, which then belonged to the Holy Roman Empire. The maps were accompanied by the book Cosmographiae Introductio produced by the Vosgean Gymnasium.  

"The Waldseemüller map depicts North and South America as two large continents. The main map shows the two continents slightly separated, while the small inset map in the top border shows them joined by an isthmus. The name "America" is placed on South America, this being the first map known to use this name. As explained in Cosmographiae Introductio, the name was bestowed in honor of Amerigo Vespucci.

"In depicting the Americas separate from Asia, the map shows a great ocean between the mountainous western coasts of the Americas and the eastern coast of Asia. The first historical records of Europeans to set eyes on this ocean, the Pacific, are recorded as Vasco Núñez de Balboa in 1513 or, Ponce de León in 1512 or 1513. Those dates are five to six years after Waldseemüller made his map. In addition, the map predicts the width of South America at certain latitudes to within 70 miles.

"Apparently among most map-makers until that time, it was still erroneously believed that the lands discovered by Christopher Columbus, Vespucci, and others formed part of the Indies of Asia. Thus some believe that it is impossible that Waldseemüller could have known about the Pacific, which is depicted on his map. The historian Peter Whitfield has theorised that Waldseemüller incorporated the ocean into his map because Vespucci's accounts of the Americas, with their so-called "savage" peoples, could not be reconciled with contemporary knowledge of India, China, and the islands of Indies. Thus, Waldseemüller reasoned, the newly discovered lands could not be part of Asia, but must be separate from it, a leap of intuition that was later proved uncannily precise.

"Most importantly, Mundus Novus, a book attributed to Vespucci (who had himself explored the extensive eastern coast of South America) was widely published throughout Europe after 1504, including by Waldseemüller's group in 1507. It had first introduced to Europeans the idea that this was a new continent and not Asia. It is theorised that this lead to Waldseemüller's separating America from Asia, depicting the Pacific Ocean, and the use of the first name of Vespucci on his map.

"The wall map consists of twelve sections printed from wood engravings measuring 18 x 24.5 inches (46 x 62 cm). Each section is one of four horizontally and three vertically, when assembled. The map uses a modified Ptolemaic conformal projection with curved meridians to depict the entire surface of the Earth."

"Of the one thousand copies of the wall map printed, only one complete copy is known. It was originally owned by Johannes Schöner (1477–1547), a Nuremberg astronomer, geographer, and cartographer. Its existence was unknown for a long time until its rediscovery in 1901 in the library of Prince Johannes zu Waldburg-Wolfegg in Wolfegg Castle in Württemberg, Germany by the Jesuit historian Joseph Fischer. It remained there until 2001 when the United States Library of Congress purchased it from Waldburg-Wolfegg-Waldsee for ten million dollars. Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany symbolically turned over the Waldseemüller map on April 30, 2007, within the context of a formal ceremony at the Library of Congress, in Washington, DC. In her remarks, the chancellor stressed that the U.S. contributions to the development of Germany in the postwar period tipped the scales in the decision to turn over the Waldseemüller map to the Library of Congress as a sign of transatlantic affinity and as an indication of the numerous German roots to the United States. Since 2007 it has been permanently displayed in the Library of Congress, within a display case filled with argon. Prior to display, the entire map was the subject of a scientific analysis project using hyperspectral imaging with an advanced LED camera and illumination system to address preservation storage and display issues.

"Four copies of the globe gores are known still to exist. The first to be rediscovered was found in 1871 and is now in the James Ford Bell Library of the University of Minnesota. Another copy was found inside a Ptolemy atlas and is in the Bavarian State Library in Munich. A third copy was discovered in 1992 bound into an edition of Aristotle in the Stadtbücherei Offenburg, a public library in Germany. A fourth copy came to light in 2003 when its European owner read a newspaper article about the Waldseemüller map. It was sold at auction to Charles Frodsham & Co. for $1,002,267, a world record price for a single sheet map There has been some suggestion that a sheet of the map is from a second edition produced about 1515. Its preservation seems to be due to the several sheets being bound into a single cover by Schöner" (Wikipedia article on Waldseemüller Map, accessed 11-10-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Francesco Albertini Issues the First Guidebook to Ancient and Modern Rome: a New "Mirabilia Romae" 1510

Since the early Middle Ages guide-books were written for the use of pilgrims to Rome. The Incunabula Short Title Catalogue maintained by the British Library cites over 100 different printed editions of the medieval guide known as Mirabilia Romae issued before 1501. Opusculum de mirablis novae & veteris urbis Roma first issued in 1510 by Francesco Albertini, a pupil of the painter Domenico Ghirlandaio who became canon of the Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence and chaplain of Cardinal Fazio Santoro in Rome, was the first guidebook to both ancient and modern Rome. It was well designed as a guidebook with a detailed table of contents of its three parts in the beginning and running heads relating to each section, making it easy to find specific sections of the guide.

Besides an account of ancient Rome, with information about excavations and archaeological discoveries, Albertini discussed the churches and buildings commissioned by Julius II and the artists who decorated them. In connection with the Sistine Chapel we learn about Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Lippi, and Michelangelo. This latter reference, together with another in Albertini’s Memoriale of the same year, represents the earliest printed notice of that artist. In the third section there is one of the earliest description of the Vatican Library in qua sunt codices auro et argento sericinisque tegminibus exornati, and mentioning the Codex Vergilianus (probably the Vergilius Vaticanus,) among other notable works. Albertini also refers to the Library’s collections of astronomical and geometrical instruments.

The final portion of the work is a laudatory account of the cities of Florence and Savona (the birthplace of Pope Julius II, to whom the book is dedicated). Here we also find mention of many eminent literary and artistic persons such as Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Brunelleschi, Leonardo da Vinci, et al. In this section Albertini refers to Amerigo Vespucci and his New World discoveries: Albericus Vespulcius of Florence, sent by the most Christian King of Portugal, but lastly by the Catholic King of Spain, first discovered new islands and unknown countries, as is plainly set forth in his book, where he describes the stars, and the new islands, as is also seen in his Letter upon the New World, addressed to Lorenzo de Medici the Younger. 

"By the begnning of the sixteenth century the collecting of statuary, inscriptions, and other antiques was being regarded with greater interest than hitherto. This is evident from the literary remains of Francesco Albertini. . ., which are also of some interest in showing how by this time the Mirabilia were no longer satisfying even those who were not professional antiquarians. Albertini himself cannot be consdiered a real scholar. He was in fact a gifted amateur with a flair for vulgarisation and an eye for works of art; not for nothing had been a pupil of Ghirlandaio in Florence, which makes one wonder whether he may have been the author of the drawings of Rome and Roman antiquities not at the Escorial, which clearly betray a hand trained by that painter. . . .

" It was in the household of Cardinal Fazio Santoro in Rome that Albertini composed his Opusculum novae et verteris Urbis Romae. But the suggestion to write it had actually come from Cardinal Galeotto della Rovere, who had expressed the wish to see a reliable and up-to-date guide of the city. While the Opusculum is invaluable for the information it supplies on contemporary Rome, it certain constitutes no landmark in the development of antiquarian science. Even its avowed aim to replace the Mirabilia had really been anticipated a couple of generations earlier by Biondo. What Albertini really achieved was a new Mirabilia, a handbook meant for the cultured visitor to Rome, where medieval legend was replaced by the new knowledge resulting from about a century of humanist investigation. Its structure is still that of the old Mirabilia with the subject matter still subdivided in the traditional way, its chapters dealing with the walls, the 'viae', the theatres, etc. It is in fact a kind of swollen catalogue, nor is such an arrangement abandoned in the second part, where Albertini dealt with the Rome of his own time. But here similarities with the Mirabilia cease. For Albertini did not hesitate to summon to his aid all the sources on which could lay his hands, thus relaying the considerable range of his reading. Classical texts used by him included not only the better known authors and the catalogues of the regions, naturally in the text revised by Pomponio Leto, but also Festus, Vitruvius and Frontinus, on whom he of course relied for his section on aqueducts. He was obviously at home with inscriptions, and besides relying on the evidence they supplied, he often quoted them in full, not hestiating to include some discovered only very recently. Like other antiquarians, he did not ignore the evidence offered by ancient coins. But perhaps what shows most clearly the range of his interest is his references to humanist writings. For here besides Petrarch, Biondo, Leto, and Poggio, we also find appeals to the authority of Alberti, Landino, Petro Marsi, Beroaldo, and Raffaele Maffei. Like so many of his contemporaries, he too was taken in by Annion da Viterbo's outrageous forgeries of ancient texts and antiquities, just as he did not escape the usual mistakes, such as the identification of the small temple by the Tiber with that of Vesta, or the attribution of the well-known Dioscuri to Pheidias and Praxiteles.

"Albertini's account of ancient Rome is certianly valuable, It is so particularly because of what he tells us about excavations and recent archaeological discoveries, and also because of the information he gives about the Roman collections of antiques in his time. It certainly proved something of a best-seller during the first quarter of the sixteenth century, as is brought home to us by its no less than five editions between 1510 and 1523" (Roberto Weiss, The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity [1969] 84-86).

In November 2014 I could not find a digital facsimile of the 1510 or 1515 Rome editions, but a digital facsimile of the Basel, 1519 edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link, and a digital facsimile of the Lyon, 1520 edition was available from the Internet Archive at this link.  

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1550 – 1600

François de Belleforest Describes Paintings in Rouffignac Cave 1575

In his translation of the Cosmographia of Sebastian Münster called La Cosmographie universelle de tout de monde published in 1575 French author, poet, and translator François de Belleforest described explorations of Rouffignac Cave, within the French commune of Rouffignac-Saint-Cernin-de-Reilhac in the Dordogne département, and mentioned "paintings and animal traces."  Rouffignac Cave contains over 250 engravings and animal paintings dating back to the Upper Paleolithic. Though De Belleforest wrote centuries before there was any understanding of prehistory, his comment is one of the earliest references to cave exploration.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1600 – 1650

Matteo Ricci Issues the First European-Style World Map in Chinese & the First Chinese Map to Show the Americas 1602

Drawn by Jesuit missionary, sinologist and polymath, Matteo RicciKūnyú Wànguó Quántú (坤輿萬國全圖 ("A Map of the Myriad Countries of the World") issued in 1602 was the first European-style world map in Chinese. Five feet (1.52 m) high and twelve feet (3.66 m) wide, it was printed from six large woodblocks and intended to be mounted on a folding screen. 

"Drawing of the map followed a first primitive map by Ricci, printed in 1584, named Yudi Shanhai Quantu (舆地山海全图). made in Zhaoqing, in 1584 by the Jesuit priest, Matteo Ricci. Ricci was one of the first Western scholars to live in China, master of Chinese script and the Classical Chinese language. Ricci created smaller versions of the map at the request of the governor of Zhaoqing at the time, Wang Pan, who wanted the document to serve as a resource for explorers and scholars.

"Later, Ricci was the first Westerner to enter Peking, bringing atlases of Europe and the West that were unknown to his hosts. The Chinese had maps of the East that were equally unfamiliar to Western scholars. In 1602, at the request of the Wanli Emperor, Ricci collaborated with Mandarin Zhong Wentao, technical translator Li Zhizao. and other Chinese scholars in what is now Beijing to create what was his third and largest world map.

"In this map, European geographic knowledge, new to the Chinese, was combined with Chinese information to create the first map known to combine Chinese and European cartography. Among other things, this map revealed the existence of America to the Chinese. Ford W. Bell said: 'This was a great collaboration between East and West. It really is a very clear example of how trade was a driving force behind the spread of civilization.'

"Several prints of the map were made in 1602. Only seven original copies of the map are known to exist and only two are in good condition. Known copies are in the Vatican Apostolic Library Collection I; Vatican Apostolic Library Collection II; Japan Kyoto University Collection; collection of Japan Miyagi Prefecture Library; Collection of the Library of the Japanese Cabinet; a private collection in Paris, France and one recently sold in London (formerly in a private collection in Japan). No examples of the map are known to exist in China, where Ricci was revered and buried.

"Ferdinand Verbiest would later develop a similar but improved map, the Kunyu Quantu in 1674" (Wikipedia article on Impossible Black Tulip, accessed 01-13-2010).

In December 2009 The James Ford Bell Trust announced that in October 2009 it had acquired for the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, one of the two "good" copies of the Kūnyú Wànguó Quántú  from Bernard J. Shapero, a noted London dealer in rare books and maps in London, for $1 million. This was the second most expensive map purchase in history after the Library of Congress purchase of the Waldseemüller World Map. The James Ford Bell copy previously was in a private collection in Japan.

The first public exhibition of the Kūnyú Wànguó Quántú was held at the Library of Congress in January 2010.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Guillaume de Castelfranc Issues the First World Map Showing Isogonic Lines 1602 – 1604

During 1602 and 1604 French astronomer and geographer Guillaume de Castelfranc, called Le Nautonier, published the first world map that showed isogonic lines, or lines of geomagnetism. The map appeared in his Mecometrie de l’eymant, c’est a dire la maniere de mesurer les longitudes par le moyen de l’eymant. Par laquelle est enseigné, un tres certain moyen, au paravant inconnu, de trouver les longitudes geographiques de tous lieux,--aussi facilement comme la latitude. Davantage, y est monstree la declinaison de la guideymant, pour tous lieux. Oeuvre nécessaire aux admiraux, cosmographes, astrologues, geographes, pilotes, geometriens, ingenieux, mestres des mines, architectes, et quadraniers. De linvention de Guillaume de Nautonier sieur de Castelfranc en Languedoc ..., imprimé à Venes ches l'autheur par Raimond Colomies, imprimeur en l'Université de Tolose, & par Antoine de Courteneufve. Castelfranc's map was used in work on finding longitude by means of magnetic variation. The tables give the world distribution of the variation, by latitude, along each of the meridians.

There must have been an unusually large international demand for Castelfranc's book as in 1603 editions appeared in Latin, Castilian, English and Dutch. The first part was dedicated to Henri IV of France, the second to James I of England , and the third to Maximilien de Béthune, Duke of Sully and Grand master of artillery, and superintendent of fortifications. The work was used in 1603 by Samuel de Champlain for his cartographic work in New France

Friend, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langen and the 'Secret of Longitude." 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-08-2013.

Shirley, Mapping of the World, 240.

(This entry was last revised on 03-03-2015.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Johannes Meursius Issues the First Guidebook to Athens 1624

Though guidebooks to Rome and its antiquities were published in manuscript during the Middle Ages and in print during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and onward, the first guide to Athens did not appear until 1624 with the publication of Athenae Atticae. Sive, De pracipuis Athenarum Antiquitatibus Libri III by the Leiden classical scholar and antiquary Johannes Meursius (van Meurs). 

I first learned of Meursius's book when I read The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity (1969) by Roberto Weiss. Remarkably, the copy of the first edition of Meursius's book that I acquired for my collection turned out to be Weiss's personal copy, bound in contemporary paneled calf, which I had rebacked. On the front pastedown endpaper is the very neat penciled inscription reading "Liber Roberti Weiss / Ex dono P. Cecil/ die 2ndo Junii a.d. mcmxlv." The copy is also signed by Weiss in pencil with the date 1945 on the front free endpaper, and it has the elegant armorial bookplate of Sr. Thomas Seabright, Bart. From the appearance of the bookplate that would probably be Sir Thomas Saunders Seabright, 5th Baronet (1723–1761).

Here is what Weiss had to say with respect to the context of Meursius's book. As usual the links are my additions:

"Our knowledge of Greek antiquity began rather late. By the middle of the fiteenth century Roman antiquity had already been the object of study for nearly a century and of indiscrimate admiration for much longer. On the other hand, despite Crusades and trade, Latin rule and missionary effort, the archological study of the Greek world during the Renaissance practically began and ended with Ciraiaco d'Ancona, and by 1455 Ciriaco was dead. After him the Turkish conquest of Byzantine lands put an end to antiquarian travel in Greek territories for about a century; and when Pierre Gilles went to Constantinople in 1546 as an antiquary to the French ambassador, the Renaissance was nearly over. Gilles's two treatises appeared in print only in 1561 and deal with the topography of Constantinople and the Bosporus. No account of the topography of Athens, which is shown as a typically German city in the great Nuremberg chronicle of 1493, was published until 1624, when the Athenae Atticae of Johannes Meursius was issued for the first time. This Leiden professor had deemed it more comfortable to rely on literary sources than to go over to Greece to see for himself. His handbook remained the indispensable guide of every cultivated traveller to Athens for over a century" (Weiss, op. cit. 131).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Michael Florent van Langren issues the Earliest Known Graph of Statistical Data 1644

In 1644 Dutch astronomer and cartographer Michael Florent van Langren (Langrenus, Miguel Florencio, Michale Florent) published La Verdadera Longitud por Mar y Tierra in Antwerp as a pamphlet. To show the magnitude of the problem of determining longitude, van Langren created the first known graph of statistical data, showing the wide range of estimates of the distance in longitude between Toledo and Rome.

Friendly, Valero-Mora, and Ibáñez Ulargui, "The First (Known Statistical Graph: Michael Florent van Langren and the 'Secret' of Longitude," 2010. http://www.datavis.ca/papers/langren-TAS09154.pdf, accessed 01-108-2013.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Johannes Hevelius Issues the First Extensive Moon Atlas 1647

In 1647 Brewer, protestant councillor and mayor, instrument maker, astronomer and engraver in Danzig (Gdańsk), Johannes Hevelius (Latin), also called Johannes Hewel, Johann Hewelke, Johannes Höwelcke in German, or Jan Heweliusz (in Polish), self-published Selenographia: sive, lunae descriptio. Besides an allegorical engraved title by Jeremias Falck after Adolf Boy, a portrait of Hevelius also engraved by Falck, after Helmick van Iwenhusen,  the book, published in small folio format, contains 110 plates on 89 sheets, drawn & engraved by the author (1 with volvelle, 3 double-page), and numerous  engravings within the text. 

The result of four years of observations, Selenographia was the first comprehensive atlas of the moon. The first state of the book does not contain the plate RRR, which is not called for in the plate list. Hevelius kept adding to his book as it went through the press; probably some copies were already in circulation by the time he had drawn and engraved plate RRR.

Son of a prosperous brewery owner, Hevelius made his own instruments, made his own drawings, did his own engraving, published his own books, and built the best observatory in Europe on beer proceeds. In the Selenographia he drew excellent moon maps, based on his own observations, and gave many new names to the features observable on the moon's surface such as seas, mountains, craters, borrowing nomenclature from terrestrial geography. For example he named an island of Sicily complete with a Mount Etna, and an island of Corsica, both in the Mediterranean Sea. A few of these names—the Alps, the Apennines, and the Caucasus—remain in use, but most of Hevelius's' nomenclature was superceded in the seventeenth century by that of Giovanni Battista Riccioli

Even more significant was his drawing of the moon in different states of libration; his descriptions of a librational cycle of shadow changes in the lunar details, his method of judging the libration by means of changes in apparent (telescopic) separation of a pair of lunar details, and his introduction of rudimentary lunar coordinate systems provided a sound basis for the work of subsequent astronomers. He also described a mounted lunar globe, perhaps the first of its kind, which allowed representation of librational movements.

The first part of the Selenographia is valuable for the history of optics. Hevelius describes an optical lathe for turning telescope lenses and gives methods for judging the parameters and qualities of lenses. He describes Christoph Scheiner's helioscope, which he eventually modified, the microscope and the military periscope. He illustrates telescopes that he made, which often had unusual fittings and complimentary devices. Hevelius also made observations of Saturn, the satellites of Jupiter, sunspots, comets and the star which he named "Mira." 

Zinner, Astronomische Instrumente 275-82.  Personal communication from Jörn Koblitz, The MetBase Library of Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1650 – 1700

The First Map Engraved and Published in New England 1677

In 1677 printer John Foster of Boston published A Narrative of the Troubles with the Indians in New-England, from the first planting thereof in the year 1607 to this present year. . . To which is added a Discourse about the Warre with the Pequods in the year 1637. By W. Hubbard, Minister of Ipswich. This book contained a woodcut map captioned "Map of New-England, Being the first that ever was cut here cut," with the legend "The White Hills" in the general region of the White Mountains. This was the first map engraved and published in New England and it predated by five years the earliest datable map published in Latin America.

"From June 1675 to the autumn of 1676 New England experienced an epidemic of Indian fights known ever since as King Philip's War. The Indians almost won it. Before the end of 1677, eight accounts of the war had been published in London, one of them in verse. The best of them was in the picturesque prose of the Reverend William Hubbard, teacher of the First Parish in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Foster printed a Boston edition of it in the spring of 1677; Thomas Parkhurst published a London edition a surprisingly short time later.

"Hubbard's narrative of King Philip's War is distinguished among books in that it contained the first map ever engraved and published in America. This deservedly famous production (first American map and first book illustration in one) bears no name of cartographer, engraver, or printer. But in the words of an eminent and cautious scholar, Lawrence C. Wroth, it has been 'generally conceded to be the work of John Foster.' It is the best known of Foster's engravings and the least rare. Randolph G. Adams, in his valuable study of Hubbard's Narrative, gave the locations of sixty-two maps in 1939 still in copies of the book.

"The map shows New England from Nantucket to Pemaquid Point and from New Haven almost to the White Mountains. It's orientation is odd in that it looks west instead of north. This is not uncommon among early maps of the Atlantic coast. People were still mentally in Europe; their maps tended to look across the ocean. The Foster map is a fairly primitive example of the wood engraver's art. It suggests the woodcut maps of 150 years earlier rather than the typical European copperplate map of the seventeenth century. . . .

". . . . The Forster map is printed from a block incised on the plank or side grain of the wood, probably with a knife. It measures roughly 12 by 14 inches. Needless to say, it is very unlikely that a genuine example exists without the creases resulting from being folded into the book" (Holman, "Seventeenth-Century American Prints," Prints in and of America to 1850, Morse (ed) [1970] 37-40, 41-43).

Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1670-1870, Vol. I  (1968) No. 2.

Shadwell, American Printmaking. The First 150 Years (1969) No. 2, plate 2. Shadwell's No. 3 and plate 3 describe a variant state of Foster's map prepared to illustrate the English edition of Hubbard's book published in London by Thomas Parkhurst in 1677. In that version the caption "White Hills" in the Boston version was replaced by "Wine Hills."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Independently Published Bibliography of Mathematics 1688

In 1688 bookseller and city counceller in Emmerich, Cornelis a Beughem issued Bibliotheca mathematica et artificosa novissima. . . conspectus primus. This was the first independently published and comprehensive bibliography of mathematics, limited to books published from 1551 onward. Pages 465-526 contained a bibliography of atlases.

Bibliotheca mathematica was one of a series of bibliographies Beughem issued through the Amsterdam firm Janssonius-Waesberghe, listing books published throughout Europe in the relevant subject area during the second half the seventeenth century in any language, whether first or revised editions. Beughem's bibliographies were distinguished from earlier bibliographies by their arrangement by author, and by their limited chronological coverage to the present and the immediate past. Bibliographia mathematica followed bibliographies by Beughem of law and politics (1680) and medicine and physics (1681). 

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 84.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Map of All of New Spain 1691 – 1694

Between 1691 and 1694 polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongóra prepared the first-ever map of all of New Spain.

"He also drew hydrologic maps of the Valley of Mexico. In 1692 King Charles II named him official geographer for the colony. As royal geographer, he participated in the 1692 expedition to Pensacola Bay, Florida under command of Andrés de Pez, to seek out defensible frontiers against French encroachment. He mapped Pensacola Bay and the mouth of the Mississippi: in 1693, he described the terrain in Descripción del seno de Santa María de Galve, alias Panzacola, de la Mobila y del Río Misisipi" (Wikipedia article on Carlos de Sigüenza y Gongóra, accessed 01-10-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1700 – 1750

White Kennett Issues the First Bibliography of Americana 1713

White Kennett, Bishop of Peterborough, England, issued Bibliothecae Americanae Primordia. An Attempt Towards Laying the Foundation of an American Library, in Several Books, Papers, and Writings, Humbly given to the Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. . . . Published in London in an edition of 250 copies in 1713, this was the library of the first collector of historical documents on the continent of North America. It was also the first bibliography of Americana, carefully listing in chronological order books, charts, maps, and documents with a detailed alphabetical index.

Breslauer & Folter, Bibliography: Its History and Development (1984) no. 93.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Ibrahim Müteferikka Issues the First Illustrated Book Printed by Muslims 1729

In 1729 printer and publisher Ibrahim Müteferikka issued his second book from his press in Constantinople. A maritime history of the Turks by the Ottoman writer Hajj Khalifa, this work was 150 pages long. As with the Arabic-Turkish dictionary he printed the same year, Mutteferikka issued 1000 copies of this work. Containing five illustrations, including a map, it was the first illustrated book printed by Muslims using movable type, and also the first book printed by Muslims containing a map:

"one showing the two hemisphere, another showing the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, another the islands under Ottoman rule, the fourth a map of the Adriatic and its islands, the fifth a double mariner's compass, beautifully engraved, with the names of the winds in Turkish, Persian and other languages. These illustrations testify to Ibaham Muteferrika's skill as a map maker and engraver.

"The Maritime Wars also contains information on cities, ports, borders, islands and sites of improtant naval battles; it give an account of Ottoman naval battles in the Archipelago, the Black Sea, the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Venice, lists famous Ottoman admirals, including Piri Reis, and describes different methods of navigation" (http://muslimheritage.com/topics/default.cfm?ArticleID=988, accessed 06-10-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1750 – 1800

Joseph Priestley Issues the First Biographical Timeline Chart 1765

British theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist Joseph Priestley published A Chart of Biography in London with text entitled A Description of a Chart of Biography in 1765. Priestley's work was the first biographical timeline chart, in which individual bars were used to visualize the life span of a person, allowing the comparison of the lifespans of many people.

"The Chart of Biography covers a vast timespan, from 1200 BC to 1800 AD, and includes two thousand names. Priestley organized his list into six categories: Statesman and Warriors; Divines and Metaphysicians; Mathematicians and Physicians (natural philosophers were placed here); Poets and Artists; Orators and Critics (prose fiction authors were placed here); and Historians and Antiquarians (lawyers were placed here). Priestley's 'principle of selection' was fame, not merit; therefore, as he mentions, the chart is a reflection of current opinion. He also wanted to ensure that his readers would recognize the entires on the chart. Priestley had difficulty assigning all of the people listed to individual categories; he attempted to list them in the category under which their most important work had been done. Machiavelli is therefore listed as a historian rather than a statesman and Cicero is listed as a statesman instead of an orator. The chart was also arranged in order of importance; 'statesmen are placed on the lower margin, where they are easier to see, because they are the names most familiar to readers' " (Wikipedia article on A Chart of Biography, accessed 03-16-2010).

Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time (2010) 116-17, plate 19.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Joseph Priestley Issues the Most Influential Historical Timeline of the Eighteenth Century 1769 – 1770

In 1769 and 1770 British theologian, dissenting clergyman, natural philosopher, educator, and political theorist Joseph Priestley published A New Chart of History with A Description of a New Chart of History.

"Together with his Chart of Biography (1765), which he dedicated to his friend Benjamin Franklin, Priestley believed these charts would allow students to 'trace out distinctly the dependence of events to distribute them into such periods and divisions as shall lay the whole claim of past transactions in a just and orderly manner.'

"The Chart of History lists events in 106 separate locations; it illustrates Priestley's belief that the entire world's history was significant, a relatively new development in the 18th century, which had begun with Voltaire and William Robertson. The world's history is divided up into the following geographical categories: Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, Great Britain, Spain, France, Italy, Turkey in Europe, Turkey in Asia, Germany, Persia, India, China, Africa and America. Priestley aimed to show the history of empires and the passing of power; the subtitle of the Description that accompanied the chart was 'A View of the Principal Revolutions of Empire that have taken place in the World' and he wrote that:

"The capital use [of the Charts was as] a most excellent mechanical help to the knowledge of history, impressing the imagination indelibly with a just image of the rise, progress, extent, duration, and contemporary state of all the considerable empires that have ever existed in the world.

" As Arthur Sheps in his article about the Charts explains, 'the horizontal line conveys an idea of the duration of fame, influence, power and domination. A vertical reading conveys an impression of the contemporaneity of ideas, events and people. The number or density of entries . . . tells us about the vitality of any age.' Voids in the chart indicated intellectual Dark Ages, for example" (Wikipedia article on A New Chart of History, accessed 07-10-2011).

Rosenberg & Grafton, Cartographies of Time (2010) 116-17, plate 20.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Zimmerman Issues the First Textbook on Zoogeography 1777

The first textbook of zoogeography, containing the first world map showing the distribution of mammals, was Specimen zoologiae geographicae, quadrupedem domicilia et migrationes sistens by German Geographer and Zoologist Eberhard August Wilhelm von Zimmerman  published in Leiden in 1777.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 2280.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Jean-Étienne Guettard Issues the First National Geological Atlas 1780

In 1780 French mineralogist and naturalist Jean-Étienne Guettard and Antoine Monnet, France's first Inspector-general of mines, published Atlas et description minéralogiques de la France in Paris at the Office of Dupain-Triel, Royal Geographical Engineer.

In 1766 Henri Bertin, Minister and Secretary of State in charge of mining, commissioned a geological survey of France from mineralogist Jean Etienne Guettard, one of the first geological cartographers, and Guettard's protegée, the young Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier (Antoine Lavoisier). Guettard and Lavoiser had begun collecting field notes for the project as early as 1763, and in 1767 they embarked on a geological tour of Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comt. During this tour both Guettard and Lavoisier maintained diaries of their geological observations. That kept by Lavoisier is preserved in the Duveen Lavoisier collection at Cornell University; that kept by Guettard was formerly in the Haskell F. Norman Library, dispersed at Christie's. 

When Lavoisier returned to Paris he assumed most of the responsibility for supervising the production of the geological maps, which were engraved by the Sieur de Dupain-Triel, Royal Geographical Engineer. By 1770, he and Guettard had overseen the completion of sixteen plates, and by 1777 they had partially completed an almost equal number. According to Lavoisier's own statement, all plates dated 1766 and 1767 were prepared with his assistance.

The atlas was to have contained 230 maps in all, but this total was never reached, as political and financial difficulties intervened. In 1777, to the displeasure of both Lavoisier and Guettard, Antoine Monnet, France's first Inspector-general of mines, was appointed to direct the geological survey. In 1780 thirty-one maps, together with a long text written by Monnet, were published under the joint authorship of Guettard and Monnet. The Atlas's maps included six by Guettard and Lavoisier, fifteen begun by Guettard and Lavoisier and finished by Monnet, and ten prepared entirely by Monnet. Monnet issued a second edition of the Atlas some time after 1794, under the title Collection complète de toutes les parties de l'Atlas minéralogique de la France. This second edition had forty-five maps, fourteen more than the 1780 Atlas; of the new maps, ten were by Guettard and Lavoisier, one was prepared by Guettard and Lavoisier and revised by Monnet, and three were prepared by Monnet alone.

Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1287; Guettard diary, no. 953. Duveen & Klickstein, Bibliography of the Works of Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1954) 218; Supplement pp. 129-132. The authors state that all the maps produced for the atlas could be purchased individually, colored or uncolored, at the office of Dupain-Triel.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Abel Buell Issues the First Map of the United States Printed in the United States 1784

American goldsmith, jewelry designer, engraver, surveyor, type manufacturer, mint master, textile miller, counterfeiter Abel Buell published in New Haven, Connecticut A New and correct Map of the United States of North America Layd Down from the Latest Observations and Best Authorities agreeable to the Peace of 1783.

Created right after the Treaty of Paris, which marked the formal end of the American Revolutionary War, Buell's map, engraved on four joined sheets creating an image 1094 x 1228 mm (43 x 481/4 inches), was the first map of the new United States created by an American, and published in America.  It was also the first map printed in America to show the flag of the United States and the first map to be copyrighted in the United States. It covers the territory of the 13 colonies and an area east of the Mississippi River. The state boundaries are very different from those today. For example, Virginia extends from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River.

Only seven copies are known, several defective.  The copy in the New Jersey Historical Society, one of the finest copies from the condition standpoint, was sold at Christie's, New York on December 3, 2010 for $2,098,500 including buyer's premium. This was the highest price for any single map sold at auction.  It was purchased by philanthropist David Rubenstein and placed on loan at the Library of Congress.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Christopher Colles Issues the First Road Atlas of the United States 1789 – 1792

A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America by American engineer and surveyor Christopher Colles, issued in New York in 1789, was the first road atlas or guide book of the United States. The series of 83 maps with a title page was privately published by Colles, by subscription.

"It uses a format familiar to modern travelers with each plate consisting of two to three strip maps arranged side by side, covering approximately 12 miles. Colles began this work in 1789, but brought the project to an end in 1792 after obtaining relatively few subscriptions. But in that time, he compiled an atlas covering approximately 1,000 miles from Albany to Williamsburg, and is invaluable today for understanding the developing road network in the new nation."

Ristow, ed., A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America 1789 by Christopher Colles (1961) includes a lengthy biographical introduction and reproductions of a complete copy of the atlas.

(This entry was last revised on 07-09-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Napoleon's Imprimerie Nationale, the First Printing Presses in Africa since 1516 1798 – 1799

During his Egyptian Campaign Napoleon Bonaparte established printing presses (Imprimerie Nationale) at Alexandria, Cairo, and Giza (Gizah) from 1798 to 1789. These were probably the first presses on the continent of Africa since Samuel ben Isaac Nedivot and his son Isaac, set up the first press on the African continent in Fez, Morocco, and operated the press from 1516 to about 1526. When the French were driven out of Egypt in 1801 Napoleon's presses ceased operation.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1800 – 1850

Bowditch Issues the "New American Practical Navigator" 1802

In 1802 Edmund P. Blunt of Newburyport, Massachusetts published Nathaniel Bowditch's The New American Practical Navigator. This fundamental American work on navigation grew out of Bowditch's revisions and corrections of John Hamilton Moore's popular, and often reprinted New Practical Navigator, first published in America by Edmund Blunt in 1799.

Blunt had requested the assistance of Bowditch, a skilled navigator, mathematician and astronomer, in rectifying Moore's more than 8,000 errors, which Bowditch did anonymously for both the first American edition and the second (1800) of Moore's book. By the time copy came to be prepared for the third edition, however, Bowditch's corrections to Moore were found to be so numerous that it was decided to issue the work under a new title, and to acknowledge Bowditch as the author on the title-page. This vastly improved Navigator had an enormous impact on the history of navigation, playing a key role in the maritime and commercial expansion of the nineteenth century. Ten editions appeared during Bowditch's lifetime. In 1866 the U.S. Hydrographic Office acquired the copyright from the descendants of Edmund Blunt; the government has kept the work up to date ever since. The latest edition, prepared and published by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Bethesda, Maryland, is available free online as a PDF from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) at this link.

Campbell, History and Bibliography of The New American Practical Navigator and The American Coast Pilot (1964) identified 7 variants of the first edition of Bowditch’s book but could assign no priority to any. Dibner, Heralds of Science, No. 15. Grolier American Hundred, No. 25.

(This entry was last revised on 04-23-2014.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Catalogue of the Library of Congress is Published April 1802 – October 1803

The first catalogue of the Library of Congress was a ten-page pamphlet issued in April 1802: Catalogue of Books, Maps, and Charts, Belonging to the Library of the Two Houses of Congress. This listed the original collection according to size: folios, quartos, octavos, and duodecimos, with estimated values for each, followed by nine maps and charts. 

In October 1803 the first supplement appeared: Supplemental Catalogue of Books, Maps, Charts, Belonging to the Library of the Two Houses of Congress. This 7-page pamphlet listed 180 volumes added since April 1802.

Sabin 15560 & 15561.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First World Atlas Printed by Muslims April 1803 – March 1804

From April 1803 to March 1804 the Istanbul Engineering College Press in Istanbul (Constantinople) issued the the Cedid Atlas Tercumesi (New Atlas). This was the first world atlas printed by Muslims. Only 50 copies were issued.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Francisco Javier de Balmis Undertakes the First International Health-Care Expedition November 30, 1803

On November 30, 1803 Spanish physician Francisco Javier de Balmis and his team embarked from La Coruña, Spain, on an expedition to vaccinate the people of Spanish America against smallpox. This three year voyage, which became known as the Balmis Expedition, is considered the first international health care expedition. Of it Edward Jenner wrote, ""I don’t imagine the annals of history furnish an example of philanthropy so noble, so extensive as this."

Born in Alicante, Spain,  Francisco Balmis moved to Havana, and later to Mexico City. In Mexico City he was principal surgeon at the Hospital of San Juan de Dios. There he studied plant remedies for venereal disease, and published Demostracion de las eficaces virtudes nuevamente descubiertas en las raices de dos plantas de Nueva-España, especies de ágave y de begónia, para la curacion del vicio venéreo y escrofuloso in Madrid in 1794. Back in Spain, he became the royal physician to King Charles IV. Balmis was able to convince the king to support the expedition after the king's daughter suffered the illness.

On the ship Maria Pita Balmis sailed with a deputy surgeon, two assistants, two first-aid practitioners, three nurses, Isabel López de Gandalia, the rectoress of Casa de Expósitos, an orphanage in La Coruña, and 22 orphan boys, eight to ten years old, who served as successive carriers of the disease. The mission carried the vaccine to the Canary IslandsColombiaEcuadorPeruMexico, the Philippines and China. The ship carried also scientific instruments and copies of Balmis's 1803 translation into Spanish of Traité historique et pratique de la vaccine (1801) by Jacques-Louis Moreau de la Sarthe:

Tratado histórico y práctico de la vacuna que contiene en compendio el orígen y los resultados de las observaciones y experimentos sobre la vacuna, con un exámen imparcial de sus ventajas, y de las objeciones que se le han puesto, con todo lo demás que concierne á la práctica del nuevo modo de inocular

 to be distributed to the local vaccine commissions which Balmis founded in the cities he visited. 

"In Puerto Rico, the local population was already inoculated from the Danish colony of Saint Thomas. In Venezuela, the expedition divided at La Guayra. José Salvany, the deputy surgeon, went toward today's Colombia and the Viceroyalty of Peru (Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia). They took seven years and the toils of the voyage brought death to Salvany (Cochabamba, 1810). Balmis went to Caracas and later to Havana. The local poet Andrés Bello wrote an ode to Balmis. In Mexico, Balmis took 25 orphans to maintain the infection during the crossing of the Pacific. In the Philippines, they received help from the Catholic church. Balmis sent most of the expedition back to Mexico while he went on to China, where he visited Macau and Canton. On his way back to Spain, Balmis convinced the authorities of Saint Helena (1806) to be inoculated" (Wikipedia article on Balmis Expedition, accessed 05-14-2014.)

(This entry was last revised in December 2016).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Méchain, Delambre, Biot & Arago Calculate the Meter (Metre) Scientifically 1806 – 1821

Between 1806 and 1810 French astronomer and surveyer Pierre Méchain and French mathematician and astronomer Jean Delambre published Base du système mètrique décimal in3 volumes. This work was concluded in 1821 by a fourth volume entitled Recueil d’observations géodésiques, astronomiques et physiques by French physicist, astronomer and mathematician Jean Baptiste Biot and French mathematician, physicist and astronomer François Arago.

In 1788 the French Academy of Sciences, at the suggestion of Talleyrand, proposed the establishment of a new universal decimal system of measurement founded upon some “natural and invariable base” to replace Europe’s diverse regional systems. This project was approved by the Assemblée nationale in 1790 and a basic unit or “meter (metre)” of measurement proposed, which was to be one ten-millionth of the distance between the terrestrial pole and the Equator. In 1792 Méchain and Delambre were appointed to make the necessary geodetic measurements of the meridian passing through Dunkirk and Barcelona, from which the meter would be derived, and in 1793/94 (An II of  the French Revolutionary calendar), the French government introduced the metric system to the country through the publication of Instruction sur les mesures déduites de la grandeur de la terre, uniformes pour toute la république, et sur les calculs relatifs à leur division décimale issued in Paris by the Imprimerie Nationale. 

Méchain and Delambre's scientific project was hampered by France’s political revolution, by the death of Méchain in 1804, and by the tedious calculations involved in converting one system to another; it was not until 1810 that Delambre was able to complete the final volume of the Base du système mètrique décimal.

Méchain and Delambre had determined the length of the meter by taking measurements over a meridian arc of 10 degrees. After Méchain’s death in 1804, the Bureau des Longitudes proposed that the meter’s length be redetermined more accurately by extending measurement of the arc of the meridian south to the Balearic Islands of Mallorca, Menorca and Ibiza. François Arago and Jean Baptiste Biot were assigned to this task. Arago was twenty years old at the start of this project. In 1806 he and Biot journeyed to Spain and began triangulating the Spanish coast. Their work was disrupted by the political unrest that developed after Napoleon’s invasion of Spain in 1807. Biot returned to Paris after they had determined the latitude of Formentera, the southernmost point to which they were to carry the survey. Arago continued the work until 1808, his purpose being to measure a meridian arc in order to determine the exact length of a meter.

After Biot's departure, the political ferment caused by the entrance of the French into Spain extended to the Balearic Islands, and the population suspected Arago's movements and his lighting of fires on the top of mola de l’Esclop as the activities of a spy for the invading army. Their reaction was such that he was obliged to give himself up for imprisonment in the fortress of Bellver in June 1808. On July 28 Arago escaped from the island in a fishing boat, and after an adventurous voyage he reached Algiers on August 3. From there he obtained a passage in a vessel bound for Marseille, but on August 16, just as the vessel was nearing Marseille, it fell into the hands of a Spanish corsair. With the rest the crew, Arago was taken to Roses in Catalonia, and imprisoned first in a windmill, and afterwards in a fortress, until the town fell into the hands of the French, and the prisoners were transferred to Palamós.

After three months' imprisonment, Arago and the others were released on the demand of the dey (ruler) of Algiers, and again set sail for Marseille on the November 28, but when within sight of their port they were driven back by a northerly wind to Bougie on the coast of Africa. Transport to Algiers by sea from this place would have required a delay of three months. Arago, therefore, set out over land, on what had to be a strenuous journey, guided by a Muslim imam, and reached Algiers on Christmas Day. After six months in Algiers, on June 21, 1809, Arago set sail for Marseille, where he had to undergo a monotonous and inhospitable quarantine in the lazaretto before his difficulties were over, roughly one year after he had first been imprisoned. The first letter he received, while in the lazaretto, was from Alexander von Humboldt—the origin of a scientific relationship which lasted over forty years.

In spite of the successive imprisonments, an escape, voyages, and other hardships he endured, Arago had succeeded in preserving the records of his survey; and his first act on his return home was to deposit them in the Bureau des Longitudes in Paris. As a reward for his heroic conduct in the cause of science, he was elected a member of the Académie des Sciences at the remarkably early age of twenty-three, and before the close of 1809 he was chosen by the council of the Ėcole Polytechnique to succeed Gaspard Monge in the chair of analytic geometry. At the same time he was named by the emperor one of the astronomers of the Obsérvatoire royale, which remained his residence till his death, and in this capacity he delivered his remarkably successful series of popular lectures on astronomy from 1812 to 1845. Most of Arago's later scientific contributions were in physics, particularly optics and magnetism: he discovered the phenomena of rotary magnetism (the greater sensitivity for light in the periphery of the eye) and rotary polarization, invented the first polariscope, and performed important experiments supporting the undulatory theory of light. In his capacity as secretary of the Académie des sciences, he championed the photographic process invented by Louis Daguerre, announcing its discovery to the Académie in 1839, and using his influence to obtain publicity and funding for its inventor.

Arago’s results, together with geodetic data obtained in France, England and Scotland, were published in the Recueil d’observations géodésiques, issued as a supplement to Méchain and Delambre’s work 11 years after he carried the data back to France, in 1821. Political opposition to the new system of measurement may have contributed to the unusually long delay in publication. 

Besides his scientific career Arago was a politician, representing a scientific point of view, and accomplishing government projects that were culturally valuable. For a little over one month, from May 9, 1848 to June 24, 1848 he was the 25th Prime Minister of France. Arago detailed his scientific adventures in his Histoire de ma jeunesse published the year after his death, in 1854.  This was translated into English by the Rev. Baden-Powell as History of My Youth (1855). The translation was reprinted in Arago's Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men (1859).

As a tribute to Arago’s contribution, in 1994 the Arago Association and the city of Paris commissioned a Dutch conceptual artist, Jan Dibbets to create a memorial to Arago. Dibbets came up with the idea of setting 135 bronze Arago Medallions into the ground along the Paris Meridian between the northern and southern limits of Paris: a total distance of 9.2 kilometres/5.7 miles. Each medallion is 12 cm in diameter and marked with the name ARAGO plus N and S pointers; only 121 are documented in the official guide to the medallions. One of these was shown in the film, The Da Vinci Code.

Carter & Muir, Printing and the Mind of Man (1967) no. 260. Daumas, Arago: La jeunesse de la science, ch. IV. Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1481.

Alder, The Measure of the World (2003) pp. 7 and 294 refers to Méchain's annotated copy of this set of books in the Karpeles Manuscript Library.  In 2011, when I finished this database entry, I owned Arago's copy of the set.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the First Applications of Spatial Analysis in Epidemology 1832 – 1834

In 1834 French economist, statistician and demographer Louis-François Benoiston de Châteauneuf, as head of a French commission, issued from Paris Rapport sur la marche et les effets du choléra-morbus dans Paris et les communes rurales du département de la Seine / par la commission nommée, avec l'approbation de M. le ministre du commerce et des travaux publics, par MM. les préfets de la Seine et de police ; année 1832. This work contained one of the earliest applications of spatial analysis in epidemiology—an early thematic map by geographer and cartographer Charles Picquet, in which the 48 districts of Paris were represented by color gradient according to the percentage of deaths from cholera per 1000 inhabitants.

In December 2013 digital versions of this work were available from the Bibliotheque nationale de France and other sites. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Charles Knight Invents "Illuminated Printing" & Offers Printed Color Plates at a Low Price for the Mass Market 1838 – 1845

In 1838 English printer and publisher Charles Knight received British patent No. 7673 for "Improvements in the Process and in the Apparatus used in the Production of Coloured Impressions on Paper, Vellum, Parchment, and Pasteboard by Surface Printing." Knight called his color printing process "illuminated printing," and invented it for the economical printing of colored pictures, maps, and drawings.

"At first only four colours were contemplated, and by some ingenious mechanism he contrived that they should all be applied in the course of a single passage of the sheet through the press, which was operated by hand. Knight, like Savage, had a decided preference for a press of the 'Ruthven' type, in which the platen was normally at the back, but was brought over the forme by means of two springs, which 'gave' to the pull, but resumed their ordinary position when the bar was released. Knight fitted the machine, in place of the usual bed, with a polygonal revolving frame, or, as he called it, 'prism' (attached to a rising table), each face of which, carrying a colour block, was applied in sucession to the sheet as the frame revolved. In an alternative method, the frame with the blocks on it revolved ona sort of turn-table, placed on the bed of the press; whilst in a third, the tympan, with the sheet attached, was carried from block to block. It will be remembered that this idea of printing several colours at one operation of the press had been to some extent anticpated by Lalleman, at Paris, two centuries earlier. The specification also describes an apparatus in which the colour blocks were on beds, hinged to the sides of a square table, and turned backward to be inked by hand, and down again for the impression. The process was in regular operation in 1839, as the Quarterly Review for December in that year contains an article, headed "The Printer's Devil," in which is a description of Clowes' printing establishment, and a fairly lengthy reference to Knight's colour-printing method, which the writer of the article in question saw at work, in connection with the production of "Patent Illuminated Maps." He describes the printing apparatus as resembling a square box, each of the four sides of which carried a printing plate, for blue, yellow, red and black respectively, which were applied to the sheet in the ordered named, the last having the letterpress matter for the names of places,etc. The tints being partly blended on the paper, three more were furnished in that way, i.e. the yellow and the red gave orange, the yellow and blue green, and so on, there being thus seven colours in all" (Burch, Colour Printing and Colour Printers [1910] 141-43).

In 1839 Knight issued a couple of examples of his "illuminated printing" in his publication of engraver John Jackson's A Treatise on Wood Engraving Historical and Practical. One of my copies contains at p. 715 as called for in the List of Illustrations, "A Café in Constantinople, and a Design for a Pattern, two of "Mr. Knight's Patent Illuminated Prints." My other copy substitutes Knight's "Patent Illuminated Map" of Ancient Jerusalem, a double-page tip-in, for the Constantinople scene.  Both copies also contain a more finely detailed Baxter print of "Parsonage at Ovingham" at p. 713. This book, which contained 269 illustrations, for the most part wood-engravings by Jackson himself, including a full-page engraved portrait of Jackson's teacher, Thomas Bewick, was co-authored by the writer William Chatto, who wrote the first seven chapters, and signed a preface explaining his authorship. Jackson failed to credit Chatto on the title page—a fault that was corrected in the second edition of 1861. A specially bound copy in my collection, presented by Jackson to the London bookseller Thomas Tegg on July 10, 1839, is labeled on the spine "Treatise on Wood Engraving / Illustrations by Jackson" confirming, however, that Jackson did not take credit for the text.

In 1840 Knight published a series of his "illuminated maps" in Hughes, The Illuminated Atlas of Scripture Geography: A Series of Maps Delineating the Physical and Historical Features in the Geography of Palestine and the Adjacent Countries accompanyied with An Explanatory Notice of Each Map. . . This small 4to contained 20 double-page maps color-printed by Knight's process. Regarding the maps, the work stated on p. 6:

"Lastly, we have to explain in a few words the peculiarities which distinguish the appearance of these Maps from any which have hitherto been published. These are, —1st, That, by a novel method of printing, the various divisions of the countries are covered with distinct colours, so that the boundaries are clearly perceived at the first view; and 2nd, That the mountains, instead of being, as in maps engraved in the usual manner, indicated by black lines, are in white, distinctly and prominently relieved by the coloured ground. In the best engraved maps a serious imperfection has always been felt to result from the names and the hills being alike printed in black, in consequence of which, either names are obscured by the hills, or the hills must be omitted in order to allow of the names being read. This renders them exceedingly difficult of reference; and it may be generally remarked of engraved maps, that in proportion as the physical features of country are fully and correctly delineated, so do the names and boundaries become obscure and unintelligble. In the ordinary process of map-engraving, the evil complained of appears unavoidable; but this is no longer the case when a different medium is used for conveying each part of the requisite information. By the method adopted in this series of Maps, the physical features of the countries—their hills and valleys—their lakes and streams—are clearly delinieated, without in the least interfering with the exhibition of names and places; while their various divisions, distinguished by colours, are presented at once and distinctly to the eye of the student. They will thus, it is believed, be found better calculated than any hitherto published to serve the important purposes of School and Home Education."

While the quality of the color prints in the works issued in 1839 and 1840 was quite good, during 1844 and 1845 Knight issued Old England: A Pictorial Museum in ninety-six fascicules in small folio format containing 24 plates printed by his patented color printing process, and a total of 2,488 numbered wood engravings. The color plates in this work are relatively crude and take on an almost painterly quality in their inexact registration. When the set was complete title pages were issued for two volumes, and Knight offered the set for sale in publisher's cloth bindings, blind-stamped and gilt in 1845. Old England must have been a commerical success, selling a large number of copies, since copies were readily available on the rare book market more than 100 years later in 2012, when I acquired two copies.

(This entry was last revised on 02-11-2015.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

George Bradshaw Issues the First Railway Timetable October 19 – October 25, 1839

On October 19, 1839 English cartographer, printer and publisher George Bradshaw of Manchester issued from Manchester and London a very small cloth-bound book entitled Bradshaw's Railway Time Tables and Assistant to Railway Travelling, at the cost of sixpence (2½p). This published route maps and train schedules for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, the first twin-track inter-urban passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and ticketed. One week later, on October 25, 1839, Bradshaw issued a similar time table for the London and Birmingham Railway, the first intercity line built into London, at the price of 1s. These were the first railway timetables —very necessary tools for travelers in the new and confusing railroad networks. The original Bradshaw time tables were published before the limited introduction of standardized Railway time in November 1840, and its subsequent development into standard time. As a result Bradshaw provided an explanation of the time then employed by the railroads:

NOTE. LONDON TIME is kept at all the Stations on the Railway, which is 4 minutes earlier than Reading time; 7 1/2 minutes before Cirencester time; 11 minutes before Bath and Bristol time; and 18 minutes before Exeter time."

From this small beginning Bradshaw expanded into publishing a wide variety of time tables and travel guides. After his early death in 1853 his business continued—so much so that "Bradshaw" became synonymous with time table and travel guide. The last Bradshaw guides were published in 1961.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1850 – 1875

Matthew Maury Writes the First Widely Read 19th Century Textbook of Oceanography and Atmospherics 1855

The Physical Geography of the Sea published in New York in 1855 by American astronomer, oceanographer, meteorologist and cartographer Matthew Fontaine Maury, was most widely read study of the oceans published in the nineteenth century, and the first book to deal exclusively with marine science since Marsigli's Histoire physique de la mer (1725). The book grew out of Maury's work as superintendent of the United States Naval Observatiory and Hydrographic Office in compiling observations, mostly of wind and weather, for use in the navigation of sailing ships. Paying more attention to the atmosphere than to the waters of the sea, Maury presented the first attempt at forumulating a general system of circulation of the atmosphere, and derived from it many features of the climates of the earth. Maury's book was also notable for its thematic maps of ocean currents, ocean depths and other oceanographic information.

However, Maury was not a professionally trained scientist, and his system was not acceptable to the professional scientists of his day, but by provoking refutations his book did bring about valuable advances toward understanding the mechanism of the atmosphere. From a "scientific" standpoint, the most worthwhile part of Maury's book was his account of observations of the temperature of the surface of the sea and of the relief and sedments of its bed, largely made under his direction on vessels of the U.S. Navy.

Deacon, Scientists and the Sea 1650-1900 (1971) 293-295.  Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 1463.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Lorin Blodget Founds of American Climatology and Meteorology 1857

The first comprehensive American work on climatology and meteorology was the American physicist and meteorologist Lorin Blodget's Climatology of the United States, and of the Temperate Latitudes of the North American Content, Embraciing a Full Comparison of these with The Climatology of the Temperate Latitudes of Europe and Asia, and Especially in Regard to Agriculture, Sanitary Investigations, and Engineering, with Isothermal and Rain Charts, published in Philadelphia in 1857. This book was illustrated with 12 folding maps and charts. Based on research that Blodget compiled at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., it was published three years after Blodget was fired from his position at the Smithsonian by its Secretary, Joseph Henry, because of a political dispute in which Blodget sided with Assistant Secretary Charles C. Jewett over the creation of a national library at the Smithsonian. 

According to Rittner, A to Z of Scientists in Weather and Climate (2009), Blodget's career does not seem to have been negatively impacted after he left the Smithsonian. He published numerous other works on statistics and meterology, including several later meterological maps:

"For a number of years after the Henry affair, Blodget worked with engineers on the pacific railroad surveys, determining altitudes and gradients and creating meteorological charts. During this period, he further develped the techniques as mapmaker and would forever draw his own maps for his and other publications." (Rittner p. 25).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Charles Joseph Minard Issues One of the Best Statistical Graphic Ever Drawn November 20, 1869

On November 20, 1869 French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard published in Paris Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l'Armée Française dans la campagne de Russie 1812-1813This was a a flow map on Napoleon's disastrous Russian campaign of 1812 in which he marched his army of 500,000 men from the Neman River to Moscow.

"The graph displays several variables in a single two-dimensional image:

"• the army's location and direction, showing where units split off and rejoined

"• the declining size of the army (note e.g. the crossing of the Berezina river on the retreat)

"• the low temperatures during the retreat.

"Étienne-Jules Marey first called notice to this dramatic depiction of the terrible fate of Napoleon's army in the Russian campaign, saying it "defies the pen of the historian in its brutal eloquence". Edward Tufte says it 'may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn' and uses it as a prime example in The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" (Wikipedia article on Charles Joseph Minard, accessed 01-16-2011).

The chart is a lithograph 62 x 30 cm.  

♦ An essay on Minard's historical sources for the chart, and a different reproduction pf the chart, was available at http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/minard in January 2011.

♦ The bibliographer of Minard's statistical graphics, Michael Friendly, posted several very interesting graphic variations on Minard's chart as Re-Visions of Minard. "I use 're-vision' in the sense of both 'to revise' and 'to see again', possibly from a new perspective." This was also available in January 2011.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Henry Stevens Calls for a Central Bibliographical Bureau Which Would Also Store Images July 25 – November 29, 1872

American antiquarian bookseller and bibliographer Henry Stevens  published an auction catalogue of books, manuscripts, maps, and charts verbosely titled as follows:

Bibliotheca geographica & historica or a catalogue of a nine days sale of rare & valuable ancient and modern books maps charts manuscripts autograph letters et cetera illustrative of historical geography & geographical history general and local. . . collected used and described. With an introduction on the progress of geography and notes annotatiunculae [sic] on sundry subjects together with an essay upon the Stevens system of photobibliography. Part I. To be dispersed by auction . . . [in] London the 19th to 29th November 1872.

In his essay introductory to the catalogue entitled Photobibliography. A Word on Catalogues and How to Make Them Stevens calls for "A Central Bibliographical Bureau" which would produce standard bibliographical descriptions of items that could be used by other cataloguers and bibliographers.  Analogous to what later became national union catalogues of books, Stevens imagined that this could "be made self-supporting or even remunerative, like the Post Office."  He also called for a standardized system of recording reduced size images called "photograms" of books according to "one uniform scale." This would reduce "all the titles, maps, woodcuts, or whatever is desired to copy" to fit the images onto standardized filing cards on which bibliographical details could be written by hand, to spare the bibliographer the time and effort of transcribing title pages.  Negatives would be stored compactly, and prints made for reproduction in printed catalogues, etc. As examples Stevens had an albumen print of a title page pasted in as the frontispiece of the auction catalogue, plus a small circular photograph of "Ptolemy's World by Mercator" pasted onto the title page.   Stevens noted the he also made available a few copies of the auction catalogue on thicker paper with about 400 pasted-on "photograms."

Stevens later expanded on this idea in a paper entitled "Photobibliography, or a Central Bibliographical Clearing-House" presented to the 1877 Conference of Librarians held in London (see "Transactions and Proceedings of the Conference", pp. 70-81). In 1878 Stevens published privately a 16mo pamphlet of 49pp. entitled, Photo-Bibliography; or, a Word on Printed Card Catalogues of old, rare, beautiful, and costly books, and how to make them on a Co-operative System; and Two Words on the Establishment of a Central Bibliographical Bureau, or Clearing-house, for Librarians.  Bigmore & Wyman, A Bibliography of Printing (1880) III, 401.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Circular Notes", a Precursor of Traveler's Cheques, are Introduced 1874

Circular note, launched in 1874 by Thomas Cook. 

No higher resolution image available at this time.

Thomas Cook.

English travel agent Thomas Cook introduced "circular notes." This financial product became much better known through the American Express brand of traveler's cheques which were introduced in 1891.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Francis Amasa Walker Issues The First National Thematic Atlas 1874

In 1874 American economist, statistician, journalist, educator, academic administrator, and military officer Francis Amasa Walker published in Washington, D.C. at the Government Printing Office Statistical Atlas of the United States Based on the Results of the Ninth Census 1870 with Contributions from Many Eminent Men of Science and Several Departments of the Government. This oversized compendium of maps, graphs, statistical tables, and essays by scientists, economists, and federal officials was the first comprehensive thematic atlas produced by any nation.  It was hailed both at home and abroad for its innovative use of graphic elements to distill and display complex data. When he conceived and supervised production and publication of this work Walker was Chief of the U. S. Bureau of Statistics and superintendent of the 1870 census. The 60 large maps, most of which were printed in color, were chromolithographed in New York by Julius Bien, who produced the plates for the first American full-size reissue of portions of Audubon's Birds of America (1858-60).

Kinnahan, "Charting Progress: Francis Amasa Walker's Statistical Atlas of the United States and Narratives of Western Expansion," American Quarterly 60 (2008) 399-423.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1875 – 1900

The First Comprehensive Global Study of Zoogeography, Including the first Global Biodiversity Map 1876 – December 2012

In 1876 British naturalist, explorer, and evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace published The Geographical Distribution of Animals through Macmillan publishers in London. Wallace studied the fauna of the Malay archipelago and was struck both with its resemblances to and differences from that of South America, where he did extensive research in the Amazon rainforest. His research expanded into this extensive 2-volume work—the first comprehensive world-wide study of zoogeography, illustrated with numerous thematic maps, including the first global biodiversity map, a map of zoogeographic regions of the world.

Wallace's biodiversity map was not formally updated until December 2012: Holt, Lessard et al "An Update of Wallace's Zoogeographic Regions of the World," Science DOI: 10.1126/science.1228282.

"Wallace recognized that the world is divided into so-called biogeographic regions, which today we know reflect the breakup of the continental plates roughly 200 million years ago. As the former mega-continent of Pangaea split apart, the evolutionary branches of those species cleaved off from one another. Millenniums of isolation following this divergence led to Australia’s wildly unique marsupials, for example, and Madagascar’s beloved lemurs. Wallace recognized these differences and produced a map identifying six major global biodiversity regions. Other maps have been produced since, but for this new effort, the researchers decided to take into account not only the current distribution of vertebrates, but also how they relate genetically.  

“ 'Genetic sequencing allowed us to do things that weren’t possible before,' Dr. Lessard said. 'Looking at these evolutionary links allows us to know which parts of the world are more closely related to other parts of the world.' With a team of 14 international colleagues, Dr. Lessard helped compile and analyze the phylogenetic relationships of 21,037 species of amphibians, birds and mammals. Whereas Wallace highlighted six major animal realms, the team identified 11, and within those realms made 20 regional distinctions. The results were published online today by the journal Science.  

"A few surprises turned up in their analyses. For example, new realms in Central America, East Asia and Oceana emerged. The northernmost stretches of the Canadian tundra make more sense grouped with the Palearctic realm, which encompasses Siberia, Europe and North Asia, than with North America’s Nearctic realm. 'Apparently, plant people kind of informally recognized that grouping in the past,' Dr. Lessard said. 'But for animals, I’ve never seen a map of biogeographic regions showing that connection.'

"The dividing lines will soon be uploaded and freely accessible on Google Earth, and the researchers hope to add information detailing which big animal families are found in each realm and region for curious citizens or researchers to explore" (http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/a-biodiversity-map-version-2-0/?src=rechp, accessed 12-23-2012).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1910 – 1920

Using Cross-Over Data to Construct the First Genetic Map 1913

Soon after American geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan of Columbia University presented his hypothesis that the strength of linkage between two genes depends upon the distance between the genes on the chromosome, his student Alfred Henry Sturtevant, then a 19-year-old undergraduate, working in Morgan's Fly Room, realized that if frequency of crossing over was related to distance, one could map out the genes on a chromosome. If the farther apart two genes were on a chromosome, the more likely it was that these genes would separate during recombination, Sturtevant recognized that the "proportion of crossovers could be used as an index of the distance between any two factors" (Sturtevant, 1913). Collecting a stack of laboratory data, Sturtevant went home and spent most of the night drawing the first chromosomal linkage map for the genes located on the X chromosome of fruit flies. He showed that the gene for any specific trait was in a fixed location (locus), and in his 1913 paper Sturtevant included the first genetic map with all its genes in the correct position, and also laid out the logic for genetic mapping. His maps proved that genes are arranged in a linear sequence along chromosomes and paved the way for genetic maps of other species besides Drosophila.

Sturtevant, "The Linear Arrangement of Six Sex-Linked Factors in Drosophila, as shown by their mode of Association," Journal of Experimental Zoology 14 (1913) 43-59. 

J. Norman (ed) Morton's Medical Bibliography 5th ed (1991) no. 245.4. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1950 – 1960

NASA is Founded July 29 – October 1, 1958

On July 29, 1958, the same day that Congress passed the National Aeronautics and Space Act disabling the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The new agency— responsible for America's space program and for civilian, rather than military, aerospace and aviation research—became operational on October 1, 1958.

From 1946, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) had been experimenting with rocket planes such as the supersonic Bell X-1. In the early 1950s, there was challenge to launch an artificial satellite for the International Geophysical Year (1957–58). An effort for this was the American Project Vanguard. After the Soviet launch of the world's first artificial satellite (Sputnik 1) on October 4, 1957, the attention of the United States turned toward its own fledgling space efforts. The U.S. Congress, alarmed by the perceived threat to national security and technological leadership (known as the "Sputnik crisis"), urged immediate and swift action; President Dwight D. Eisenhower and his advisers counseled more deliberate measures. This led to an agreement that a new federal agency mainly based on NACA was needed to conduct all non-military activity in space. The Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) was created in February 1958 to develop space technology for military application.

"On July 29, 1958, Eisenhower signed the National Aeronautics and Space Act, establishing NASA. When it began operations on October 1, 1958, NASA absorbed the 46-year-old NACA intact; its 8,000 employees, an annual budget of US$100 million, three major research laboratories (Langley Aeronautical LaboratoryAmes Aeronautical Laboratory, and Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory) and two small test facilities. A NASA seal was approved by President Eisenhower in 1959. Elements of the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and the United States Naval Research Laboratory were incorporated into NASA. A significant contributor to NASA's entry into the Space Race with the Soviet Union was the technology from the German rocket program (led by Wernher von Braun, who was now working for ABMA) which in turn incorporated the technology of American scientist Robert Goddard's earlier works. Earlier research efforts within the U.S. Air Force and many of ARPA's early space programs were also transferred to NASA. In December 1958, NASA gained control of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a contractor facility operated by the California Institute of Technology" (Wikipedia article NASA, accessed 12-02-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Photograph of Earth from an Orbiting Satellite August 14, 1959

The first photograph of the earth from an orbiting satellite was taken by the U.S. Explorer 6 on August 14, 1959. The crude image shows a sun-lit area of the Central Pacific ocean and its cloud cover. The picture was made when the satellite was about 17,000 miles above the surface of the earth on August 14, 1959. At the time, the satellite was crossing Mexico. The signals were received at the tracking station at South Point, Hawaii (also known as Ka Lae).

(This entry was last revised on 11-08-2014.)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1960 – 1970

Yuri Gagarin Becomes the First Human to Travel into Space and the First to Orbit the Earth April 12, 1961

On April 12, 1961 Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, aboard the Vostok 3KA-3 (Vostok 1) spacecraft, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Site  No. 1 became both the first human to travel into space, and the first to orbit the earth. Gagarin's spaceflight about the Vostok 1 consisted of a single orbit of the earth lasting 108 minutes. Gagarin ejected from the spacecraft at 7 km, 23,000 feet, and parachuted to earth separately from the spacecraft.

In his secret postflight report, Gagarin described the first human experience of spaceflight, and prolonged microgravity: 

"I ate and rank normally, I could eat and drink. I noticed no physiological difficulties. The feeling of weightlessness was somewhat unfamilar compared with Earth conditions. Here, you feel as if you were hanging in a horzontal position in straps. You feel as if you are suspended. Obviously, the tightly fitted suspension system presses upon the thorax. . . . Later I got used to it and had no unpleasant sensations. I made entries into the logbook, reported, worked with the telegraph key. When I had meals, I also had water. I let the writing pad out of my hands and it floated together with the pencil in front of me. Then, when I had to write the next report, I took the pad, but the pencil wasn't where it had been. It had flown off somewhere. The eye was secured to the pencil with a screw, but obviously they should have used glue or secured the pencil more tightly. The screw got loose and flew away. I closed up the journal and put it in my pocket. It wouldn't be any good anyway, because I had nothing to write with" (quoted by Siddiqi, Challenge to Apollo: The Soviet Union and the Space Race: 1945-1974 (2000) 278).

A minor detail mentioned in this quote is that Gagarin communicated with earth by radio, using a telegraph key, rather than by voice. His call sign was Kedr (Siberian Pine, Russian: Кедр).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Roger Tomlinson Develops the First True Operational Geographic Information System (GIS) 1962

In 1962 English geographer Roger F. Tomlinson, then of Spartan Air Services, and IBM began the development of the Canada Geographic Information System (CGIS) for the Federal Department of Foresty and Rural Development in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. This was the first true operational geographic information system (GIS). The system was used to store, analyze, and manipulate data collected for the Canada Land Inventory – to determine the land capability for rural Canada by mapping information about soils, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, waterfowlforestry and land use at a scale of 1:50,000. A rating classification factor was also added to permit analysis.

"In 1960, Roger Tomlinson was working at an aerial survey company in Ottawa— Spartan Air Services. The company was focused on producing large-scale photogrammetric and geophysical maps. In the early 1960s, Tomlinson and the company were asked to produce a map for site-location analysis in an east African nation. Tomlinson immediately recognized that the new automated computer technologies might be applicable and even necessary to complete such a detail-oriented task more effectively and efficiently than humans. Eventually, Spartan met with IBM offices in Ottawa to begin developing a relationship to bridge the previous gap between geographic data and computer services. Tomlinson brought his geographic knowledge to the table as IBM brought computer programming and data management.

"The Canadian government and Tomlinson began working towards the development of a national program after a 1962 meeting between Tomlinson and Lee Pratt, head of the Canada Land Inventory (CLI). Pratt was charged with creation of maps covering the entire region of Canada's commercially productive areas by showing agriculture, forestry, wildlife, and recreation, all with the same classification schemes. Not only was the development of such maps a formidable task, but Pratt understood that computer automation may assist in the analytical processes as well. Tomlinson was the first to produce a technical feasibility study on whether computer mapping programs would be viable solution for the land-use inventory and management programs, such as CLI. He is also given credit for coining the term geographic information system and is recognized as the 'Modern Father of GIS' " (Wikipedia article on Canada Geographic Informatio System, accessed 12-07-2013).

"CGIS was an improvement over 'computer mapping' applications as it provided capabilities for overlay, measurement, and digitizing/scanning. It supported a national coordinate system that spanned the continent, coded lines as arcs having a true embedded topology and it stored the attribute and locational information in separate files. As a result of this, Tomlinson has become known as the "father of GIS", particularly for his use of overlays in promoting the spatial analysis of convergent geographic data" (Wikipedia article Geographic information sytem, accessed 12-07-2013).

In 1974 Tomlinson received a PhD from the University College London after writing a doctoral thesis entitled The application of electronic computing methods and techniques to the storage, compilation, and assessment of mapped data. In 1976 with H. W. Calkins and Duane F. Marble, he issued through UNESCO Press Computer Handling of Geographical Data: An Examination of Selected Geographic Information Systems. Natural Resources Research Ser. XIII.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

NCR Issues the Smallest Published Edition of the Bible, and the First to Reach the Moon 1966

In 1966 the Research and Development department of National Cash Register (NCR) of Dayton, Ohio produced an edition of all 1245 pages of  the World Publishing Company's No. 715 Bible on a single 2" x 1-3/4" photochromatic microform (PCMI) The microform contained both the Old Testament on 773 pages and the New Testament on 746 pages, and was issued in a paper sleeve with title on the cover and information about the process inside and on the back.

On the microform each page of double column Bible text was about 0.5 mm wide and 1 mm high. Each text character was 8 um high (ie 8/1000ths of a millimeter). NCR noted on the paper wallet provided with the microform that this represented a linear reduction of about 250:1 or an area reduction of 62,500:1. This would correspond to the original text being circa 2 mm high. To put this into perspective, NCR also noted that if this reduction was used on the millions of books on the 270+ miles of shelving in the Library of Congress, the entire Library of Congress as it existed in 1966 could be stored in six standard filing cabinets.

♦ In 1971 Apollo 14 lunar module pilot Edgar D. Mitchell carried 100 of the microform bibles aboard the lunar module Antares, as confirmed by NASA's official manifest. Launched January 31, 1971, Mitchell and the bibles reached the Fra Mauro formation of the Moon on February 5 aboard the Antares before returning to the command module for the voyage back to Earth. This was the first edition of the Bible to reach the Moon, and probably the first book of any kind of reach the moon and return. A second parcel containing 200 microform Bibles flew in Edgar Mitchell's command module "PPK" bag in lunar orbit, and did not land. These 200 copies represented extra Bibles to be used if something happened to the lunar module copies.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Jacques Bertin's "Sémiologie graphique" is Published 1967 – 1983

In 1967 French cartographer and theorist of information graphics Jacques Bertin published Sémiologie graphique. Les diagrammes, les réseaux, les cartes in Paris at the press of Gauthier-Villars. This book provided the first theoretical foundation for information graphics: a systematic classification of the use of visual elements to display data and relationships, primarily in static graphics. Bertin's system consisted of seven visual variables: position, form (shape), orientation, color (hue), texture, value (lightness or darkness of color), and size, combined with a visual semantics for linking data attributes to visual elements.

Bertin revised his book for a second edition published in 1973. It was translated into German in 1974. In 1983 an English translation of the second French edition by William J. Berg, with a foreword by Howard Wainer, and a new preface by Bertin, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press as Semiology of Graphics: Diagrams, Networks, Maps. In 2010 the English translation was reissued with a new Foreword by Wainer. The 438 page book contained over 1000 images, a few in color.

A widely referenced quotation from Bertin's book is:

"And now, at the end of the twentieth century, with the pressure of modern information and the advances of data processing, graphics is passing through a new and fundamental stage. The great difference between the graphic representation of yesterday, which was poorly dissociated from the figurative image, and the graphics of tomorrow, is the disappearance of the congential fixity of the image.

"When one can superimpose, juxtapose, transpose, and permute graphic images in ways that lead to groupings and classings, the graphic image passes from the dead image, the 'illustration,' to the living image, the widely accessible research instrument it is now becoming. The graphic is no longer only the 'representation' of a final simplification, it is a point of departure for the discovery of these simplifications and the means for their justification. The graphic has become, by its manageability, an instrument for information processing. . . . " [I added the bold face. JN]

In his foreword to the 1983 English translation Wainer called Bertin's work, "the most important work on graphics since the publication of Playfair's Atlas [The Commerical and Political Atlas (1785-86)]."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Manned Apollo Flights Occur December 24, 1968

On December 24, 1968 the first manned Apollo flights occurred, including Apollo 8, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, which circumnavigated the moon on Christmas Eve.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A Problem with the Apollo 11 Guidance Computer Nearly Prevents the First Moon Walk July 21, 1969

On July 21, 1969 Neil Armstrong, commander of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission, and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, lunar module pilot, became the first human beings to walk on the moon. A Saturn V rocket launched the Command Module, Service Module ("Columbia") and Lunar Module ("Eagle") from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39 in Merritt Island, Florida.

The moon landing was almost canceled in the final seconds because of an overload of the Apollo Guidance Computer’s memory, but on advice from Earth, Armstrong and Aldren ignored the warnings and landed safely. The Apollo Guidance Computer was the first recognizably modern embedded system used in real-time by astronaut pilots.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1970 – 1980

The Beginnings of the Landsat Program July 23, 1972

On July 23, 1972 NASA launched the Earth Resources Technology Satellite, later renamed Landsat, for the acquisition of satellite imagery of Earth.

"The most recent [satellite in the series], Landsat 8, was launched on February 11, 2013. The instruments on the Landsat satellites have acquired millions of images. The images, archived in the United States and at Landsat receiving stations around the world, are a unique resource for global change research and applications in agriculturecartographygeologyforestryregional planningsurveillance and education" (Wikipedia article on Landsat Program, accessed 10-20-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

One of the Most Widely Distributed Photographic Images: The Blue Marble Photograph of the Earth December 7, 1972

On December 7, 1972 Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt on the Apollo 17 spacecraft took the the Blue Marble photograph of the earth from a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). The image is one of the first to show a fully illuminated Earth, as the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image.  To the astronauts Earth had the appearance of a glass marble. The photograph became one of the most widely distributed of all photographic images.

Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the United States Apollo space program. In 2012 it remained the most recent manned Moon landing and the most recent manned flight beyond low Earth orbit.

In January 2012 NASA released its 2012 version of the Blue Marble image. Using a planet-pointing satellite, Suomi NPP, the space agency created an extremely high-resolution photograph of our watery world. The Suomi satellite compiled the image from small sections that it photographed over the course of January 4, 2012. The pictures were later stitched together.

In July 2012 many technical details regarding the origins of the 1972 Blue Marble photo were available from Eric Hartwell's InfoDabble website.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Discovery of Citation Mapping 1973

In 1973 American information scientist Henry G. Small of the Institute for Scientific Information published "Co-Citation in the Scientific Literature; A New Measure of the Relationship between Two Documents," Journal of the American Society for Information Science 24 (1973) 265-9. Small's paper first described what he called "citation mapping," which enabled the use of citation data to create maps visualizing the structure of scientific activity.

Citation mapping was co-discovered by Irina Marshakova in Moscow.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First GPS Satellite February 1977

In February 1977 The U.S. Department of Defence launched the first experimental Block-I GPS satellite. It became part of the NAVSTAR GPS (Navigation Signal Timing and Ranging Global Positioning System)--the first GPS.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The First Manmade Object to Cross the Heliopause and Enter Interstellar Space September 5, 1977 – August 25, 2012

On September 5, 1977 NASA launched Voyager 1, a 722-kilogram (1,590 lb) space probe to study the outer Solar System. As part of the Voyager program, the spacecraft is on an extended mission to locate and study the regions and boundaries of the outer heliosphere, and finally to begin exploring the interstellar medium. Its primary mission ended on November 20, 1980, after encounters with the Jovian system in 1979 and the Saturnian system in 1980. It was the first probe to provide detailed images of the two planets and their moons.

"On September 12, 2013, NASA announced that Voyager 1 had crossed the heliopause and entered interstellar space on August 25, 2012, making it the first manmade object to do so. As of 2013, the probe was moving with a relative velocity to the Sun of about 17 km/s (38,000 mph; 61,000 km/h). The probe is expected to continue its mission until 2025 when it will be no longer supplied with power from its generators" (Wikipedia article on Voyager 1, accessed 09-16-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

1990 – 2000

Perhaps the First Commercially Available Virtual Globe November 20, 1997

On November 20, 1997, Microsoft released the Encarta Virtual Globe 98 on CD-ROM. This was probably the first commercially-available virtual globe.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Digital Michelangelo Project 1998

Marc Levoy and team began The Digital Michelangelo Project at Stanford University in 1998 using laser scanners to digitize the statues of Michelangelo, as well as 1,163 fragments of the Forma Urbis Romae, a giant marble map of ancient Rome.

The quality of the scans was so high that the Italian government would not permit the release of the full data set on the Internet; however, the Stanford researchers built a system called ScanView that allowed viewing of details of specific parts of the statue, including parts that would be inaccessible to a normal museum visitor. In December 2013 Scanview could be downloaded at this link.

The laser scan data for Michelangelo's David was utilized in its cleaning and restoration that began in September 2002. This eventually resulted in a 2004 book entitled Exploring David: Diagnostic Tests and State of Conservation.

"In preparation for this restoration, the Galleria dell'Accademia undertook an ambitious 10-year program of scientific study of the statue and its condition. Led by Professor Mauro Matteini of CNR-ICVBC, a team of Italian scientists studied every inch of the statue using color photography, radiography (i.e. X-rays), ultraviolet fluorescence and thermographic imaging, and several other modalities. In addition, by scraping off microsamples and performing in-situ analyses, the mineralogy and chemistry of the statue and its contaminants were characterized. Finally, finite element structural analyses were performed to determine the origin of hairline cracks that are visible on his ankles and the tree stump, to decide if intervention was necessary. (They decided it wasn't; these cracks arose in 1871, when the statue briefly tilted forward 3 degrees due to settling of the ground in the Piazza Signoria. This tilt was one of the reasons they moved the statue to the Galleria dell'Accademia.)  

"The results of this diagnostic campaign are summarized in the book Exploring David . . . . The book, written in English, also contains a history of the statue and its past restorations, a visual analysis of the chisel marks of Michelangelo as evident from the statue surface, and an essay by museum director Franca Falletti on the difficulties of restoring famous artworks. . . .  

"Aside from its sweeping scientific vision, what is remarkable about this book is that many of the studies employed a three-dimensional computer model of the statue - the model created by us during the Digital Michelangelo Project. Although we worked hard to create this model, and we envisioned 3D models eventually being used to support art conservation, we did not expect such uses to become practical so soon. After all, our model of the David is huge; outside our laboratory and a few others in the computer graphics field, little software exists that can manipulate such large models. However, with help from Roberto Scopigno and his team at CNR-Pisa, museum director Franca Falletti prodded, encouraged, and cajoled the scientists working under her direction to use our model wherever possible. We contributed a chapter to this book, on the scanning of the statue, but we take no credit for its use in the rest of the book. In fact, to us at Stanford University, the timing of our scanning project relative to the statue's restoration and the creation of this book seems merely fortuitious. However, Falletti insists that she had this use of our model in mind all along! In any case, this is a landmark book - the most extensive use that has ever been made of a 3D computer model in an art conservation project" (http://graphics.stanford.edu/projects/mich/book/book.html, accessed 12-23-2009).

On July 21, 2009 the team announced that they had a "full-resolution (1/4mm) 3D model of Michelangelo's 5-meter statue of David", containing "about 1 billion polygons."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Bibliometrics of Science February 14, 1998

According to his February 14, 1998 paper, Mapping the World of Science, Eugene Garfield's Science Citation Index built on the principles of citation analysis, covered nearly 20,000,000 printed source articles and 300 million cited printed references over a 50-year period.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2000 – 2005

Origins of Google Earth 2001

The KH-4B Corona Reconaissance Satellite

The prehistory of Google Earth began in 2001 when a software development firm called Keyhole, Inc., was founded in Mountain View, California, which happened also to be Google's base of operations. Keyhole specialized in geospatial data visualization applications. The name "Keyhole" paid homage to the original KH reconnaissance satellites, also known as Corona satellites, which were operated by the U.S. between 1959 and 1972. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004, and Keyhole's Earth Viewer reached a wide public as Google Earth in 2005. Other aspects of Keyhole technology were incorporated into Google Maps. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The World's Largest Book --Spectacularly Beautiful December 2003

Michael Hawley

Michael Hawley reviews his book, Bhutan: a Visual Odyssey Across the Kingdom

Choki Lhamo (age 14) from Trongsa with BHUTAN, the world's largest published book

Jay Talbott / National Geographic Society

In December 2003Michael Hawley, a scientist at MIT, issued the world's largest book—Bhutan: a Visual Odyssey Across the Kingdom. The work, which was also one of the most beautiful books ever published, was undertaken as a philanthrophic endeavor. It had 112 pages and weighed 133 pounds on an included custom-built aluminum stand. It's page openings were 7 x 5 feet. The work was initially offered in exchange for a $10,000 contribution. However, in November 2008 Amazon.com was offering copies for sale for $30,000 each.

A more practical and affordable way to appreciate this spectacular volume would be the trade edition published in 2004, a copy of which I acquired. In February 2009 this was offered for sale by Amazon.com for $100.00. In my opinion this is one of the finest and most spectacular trade books designed, printed and bound in America, though my aging eyes are not entirely comfortable reading white text against a black background. The clothbound volume, with an unusual dust jacket printed on both sides, measures 15¼ x 12¼ inches (39 x 31 cm).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

OpenStreetMap Begins 2004

Inspired by the success of the Wikipedia (which began in 2001), in 2004 Steve Coast, then a computer science student at the University of London, created OpenStreetMap.org as a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world. "Cartography-obsessed," Coast liked to bicycle around town with a GPS taped to his handlebars and a laptop recording its data in his backpack. Bolstered by the availability of map information and cheap GPS devices, OpenStreetMap (O.S.M) has since grown into a collaboration among some 300,000 map enthusiasts around the world. Anyone can contribute to it and use it free of charge.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Maps Begins October 2004 – 2005

Google Maps originated in a C++ program designed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen of Where 2 Technologies in Sydney, Australia. They designed the program to be separately downloaded by users, but pitched it to Google as a Web-based product. Google acquired the company in October 2004. At Google it was transformed into the web application Google Maps. In the same month, Google acquired Keyhole, a geospatial data visualization company, and aspects of Keyhole technology were also incorporated into Google Maps.

Google Maps expanded its coverage and features at an extraordinary rate even for web developments, and its open A.P.I was incorporated into a remarkable number of websites, including this one. On December 12, 2013 The New York Times published an article entitled "Google's Road Map to Global Domination," from which I quote:

"Today, Google’s map includes the streets of every nation on earth, and Street View has so far collected imagery in a quarter of those countries. The total number of regular users: A billion people, or about half of the Internet-connected population worldwide. Google Maps underlies a million different websites, making its map A.P.I. among the most-used such interfaces on the Internet. At this point Google Maps is essentially what Tim O’Reilly predicted the map would become: part of the information infrastructure, a resource more complete and in many respects more accurate than what governments have...." 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2005 – 2010

Google Earth is Launched 2005

An image of earth using the Google Earth program

The Google Earth logo

Keyhole EarthViewer 3D

In 2005 Google launched Google Earth, a virtual globe, map and geographical information program, which mapped the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained by satellite. The program, which Google acquired when it purchased Keyhole, Inc., was originally called EarthViewer 3D. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Connectomes: Elements of Connections Forming the Human Brain September 30, 2005

Olaf Sporns

Giulio Tononi

Neuroscientists Olaf Sporns of Indiana University, Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin, and Rolf Köttler of Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany, published "The Human Connectome: A Structural Description of the Human Brain," PLoS Computational Biology I (4). This paper and the PhD thesis of Patric Hagmann from the Université de Lausanne, From diffusion MRI to brain connectomics, coined the term connectome:

In their 2005 paper  Sporns et al. wrote:

"To understand the functioning of a network, one must know its elements and their interconnections. The purpose of this article is to discuss research strategies aimed at a comprehensive structural description of the network of elements and connections forming the human brain. We propose to call this dataset the human 'connectome,' and we argue that it is fundamentally important in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology. The connectome will significantly increase our understanding of how functional brain states emerge from their underlying structural substrate, and will provide new mechanistic insights into how brain function is affected if this structural substrate is disrupted."

In his 2005 Ph.D. thesis, From diffusion MRI to brain connectomics, Hagmann wrote:

"It is clear that, like the genome, which is much more than just a juxtaposition of genes, the set of all neuronal connections in the brain is much more than the sum of their individual components. The genome is an entity it-self, as it is from the subtle gene interaction that [life] emerges. In a similar manner, one could consider the brain connectome, set of all neuronal connections, as one single entity, thus emphasizing the fact that the huge brain neuronal communication capacity and computational power critically relies on this subtle and incredibly complex connectivity architecture" (Wikipedia article on Connectome, accessed 12-28-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Introduces Street View in Google Maps May 25, 2007 – May 12, 2008

Google Street View image of St Johns Street in Manchester UK showing 8 different possible views

An exmple of blurred faces in Google Street View

One of the vehicles used to record the images for Google Street View

On May 25, 2007 Google introduced the Street View feature of Google Maps in the United States.  It provided panoramic views from positions along many streets, eventually including even views of the very small road on which I live in Novato, California, suggesting that coverage of many parts of the United States became extremely comprehensive.  

On April 16, 2008, Google fully integrated Street View into Google Earth 4.3.

In response to complaints about privacy, on May 12, 2008 Google announced in its "latlong" blog that it had introduced face-blurring technology for its images of Manhattan. It eventually applied the technology to all locations.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Largest Atlas Ever Published as a Printed Book October 2008 – March 2012

In 2008 Gordon Cheers of Millennium House, North Narabeen, Australia, published a world atlas called Earth. The World Atlas. Containing 576 pages with 154 maps and 800 photographs, the volume measured 610 x 469 millimeters and weighed over 30 kilos. The publishers described it as the largest atlas ever published as a printed book.

"The book also includes four monster-sized gatefolds which, unfurled, measure six x four feet (1.82 x 1.21 meters) and reveal pinpoint sharp satellite images including shots of the earth and sky at night" (http://www.cnn.com/2008/TECH/science/10/16/earth.atlas/index.html#cnnSTCText, accessed 12-05-2008).

In December 2013 a virtual tour of a few pages of the atlas was avilable from the Millenium House website at this link

The book was offered for sale in two versions: "Royal Blue," limited to 2000 copies, and available in bookstores, and "Imperial Gold," limited to 1000 copies and for sale only by Millenium House. In October 2009 Amazon.com offered a copy of an unspecified version for about $7200 plus $3.99 shipping and handling. There was also a regular trade edition available in a 325 x 250 mm format called Earth Condensed.

When I revisited the Millenium House website in March 2012 I noticed that the publishers had surpassed their previous size record by producing the Platinum edition of their atlas in an enormous 6 foot x 4.5 foot format (1.8m x 1.4m) in an edition limited to 31 copies at the price of $100,000 USD per copy. As they stated:

"Once in a lifetime, the opportunity comes along to acquire something truly exquisite and unique—a piece of history, a rare collectible, a masterpiece... EARTH Platinum Edition is such an acquisition. With only 31 individually numbered copies of this immense, limited edition atlas available, this beautifully presented book will be sought after by fine institutions and discerning collectors. Superb cartography is displayed on the massive pages when opened: each spread measures a breathtaking 6 feet x 9 feet (1.8m x 2.7m), presenting an unsurpassed view of the world...." 

Though I was unsure whether the original 2008 version of Earth. The World Atlas was, as the publisher's claimed "the largest atlas ever published as a printed book," we can safely say that the enormous Platinum edition knocks out any previous competition in the size category.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Earth Incorporates Historical Imagery February 2, 2009

On February 2, 2009 Google launched Google Earth 5.0. Among the most significant features were Historical Imagery, Touring, and 3D Mars.

" ♦ Historical Imagery: Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the "clock" icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.  

" ♦ Touring: One of the key challenges we have faced in developing Google Earth has been making it easier for people to tell stories. People have created wonderful layers to share with the world, but they have often asked for a way to guide others through them. The Touring feature makes it simple to create an easily sharable, narrated, fly-through tour just by clicking the record button and navigating through your tour destinations.

" ♦ 3D Mars: This is the latest stop in our virtual tour of the galaxies, made possible by a collaboration with NASA. By selecting "Mars" from the toolbar in Google Earth, you can access a 3D map of the Red Planet featuring the latest high-resolution imagery, 3D terrain, and annotations showing landing sites and lots of other interesting features" (Official Google Blog, http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/dive-into-new-google-earth.html, accessed 11-29-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A Higher Resolution Map of Knowledge Than Can be Produced from Citation Analysis March 11, 2009

On March 11, 2009 Johan Bollen of Los Alamos National Laboratory and six co-authors published "Clickstream Data Yields High Resolution Maps of Science" in the open access online journal Plos ONE.  The map was based on clickstream data collected when online readers switched from one journal to another, allowing the collection of about one billion data points—a far greater number, and presumably more reflective of actual reading patterns, than the prior method of citation analysis developed by the Institute for Scientific Information (now Thomson Scientific's Web of Science). That method traces the relationship of footnotes in scholarly journals.

"Maps of science derived from citation data visualize the relationships among scholarly publications or disciplines. They are valuable instruments for exploring the structure and evolution of scholarly activity. Much like early world charts, these maps of science provide an overall visual perspective of science as well as a reference system that stimulates further exploration. However, these maps are also significantly biased due to the nature of the citation data from which they are derived: existing citation databases overrepresent the natural sciences; substantial delays typical of journal publication yield insights in science past, not present; and connections between scientific disciplines are tracked in a manner that ignores informal cross-fertilization.

"Scientific publications are now predominantly accessed online. Scholarly web portals provide access to publications in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. They routinely log the interactions of users with their collections. The resulting log datasets have a set of attractive characteristics when compared to citation datasets. First, the number of logged interactions now greatly surpasses the volume of all existing citations. This is illustrated by Elsevier's announcement, in 2006, of 1 billion (1×109) article downloads since the launch of its Science Direct portal in April 1999. In contrast, around the time of Elsevier's announcement, the total number of citations in Thomson Scientific's Web of Science from the year 1900 to the present does not surpass 600 million (6×108). Second, log datasets reflect the activities of a larger community as they record the interactions of all users of scholarly portals, including scientific authors, practitioners of science, and the informed public. In contrast, citation datasets only reflect the activities of scholarly authors. Third, log datasets reflect scholarly dynamics in real-time because web portals record user interactions as soon as an article becomes available at the time of its online publication. In contrast, a published article faces significant delays before it eventually appears in citation datasets: it first needs to be cited in a new article that itself faces publication delays, and subsequently those citations need to be picked up by citation databases.

"Given the aforementioned characteristics of scholarly log data, we investigated a methodological issue: can valid, high resolution maps of science be derived from clickstream data and can clickstream data be leveraged to yield meaningful insights in the structure and dynamics of scholarly behavior? To do this we first aggregated log datasets from a variety of scholarly web portals, created and analyzed a clickstream model of journal relationships from the aggregate log dataset, and finally visualized these journal relationships in a first-ever map of science derived from scholarly log data" (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0004803#pone.0004803-Brody1, accessed 03-19-2009).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Human Connectome Project July 2009

The Human Connectome Project, a five-year project sponsored by sixteen components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) split between two consortia of research institutions, was launched as the first of three Grand Challenges of the National Institutes of Health's Blueprint for Neuroscience Research

The project was described as "an ambitious effort to map the neural pathways that underlie human brain function. The overarching purpose of the Project is to acquire and share data about the structural and functional connectivity of the human brain. It will greatly advance the capabilities for imaging and analyzing brain connections, resulting in improved sensitivity, resolution, and utility, thereby accelerating progress in the emerging field of human connectomics. Altogether, the Human Connectome Project will lead to major advances in our understanding of what makes us uniquely human and will set the stage for future studies of abnormal brain circuits in many neurological and psychiatric disorders" (http://www.humanconnectome.org/consortia/, accessed 12-28-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Displaying Crowdsourced Road Congestion Data on Google Maps August 25, 2009

Google announced in its blog on August 25, 2009 that it was displaying crowdsourced congestion data from GPS enabled cell phones on Google maps.

". . . When you choose to enable Google Maps with My Location, your phone sends anonymous bits of data back to Google describing how fast you're moving. When we combine your speed with the speed of other phones on the road, across thousands of phones moving around a city at any given time, we can get a pretty good picture of live traffic conditions. We continuously combine this data and send it back to you for free in the Google Maps traffic layers. It takes almost zero effort on your part — just turn on Google Maps for mobile before starting your car — and the more people that participate, the better the resulting traffic reports get for everybody.

"This week we're expanding our traffic layer to cover all U.S. highways and arterials when data is available. We're able to do this thanks in no small part to the data contributed by our users. This is exactly the kind of technology that we love at Google because it's so easy for a single person to help out, but can be incredibly powerful when a lot of people use it together. Imagine if you knew the exact traffic speed on every road in the city — every intersection, backstreet and freeway on-ramp — and how that would affect the way you drive, help the environment and impact the way our government makes road planning decisions. This idea, which we geeks call 'crowdsourcing,' isn't new. Ever since GPS location started coming to mainstream devices, people have been thinking of ways to use it to figure out how fast the traffic is moving. But for us to really make it work, we had to solve problems of scale (because you can't get useful traffic results until you have a LOT of devices reporting their speeds) and privacy (because we don't want anybody to be able to analyze Google's traffic data to see the movement of a particular phone, even when that phone is completely anonymous)" (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/08/bright-side-of-sitting-in-traffic.html, accessed 12-18-2011).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A "Significant Amount" of Water is Discovered on the Moon November 13, 2009

On November 13, 2009 NASA announced that the Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) managed by Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, and its companion rocket, which impacted in crater Cabeus near the Moon's south pole on October 9, 2009, generated a "significant amount" of water

This discovery had significant implications for the support of a manned base on the moon or for the generation of rocket fuel to further space exploration. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2010 – 2012

"Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know" 2010

In 2010 Katy Börner

Professor of Information Science at the School of Library and Information Science, Adjunct Professor at the School of Informatics and Computing, Adjunct Professor at the Department of Statistics in the College of Arts and Sciences, Core Faculty of Cognitive Science, Research Affiliate of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and Biocomplexity Institute, Member of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory, Leader of the Information Visualization Lab, and Founding Director of the Cyberinfrastructure for Network Science Center at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN and Visiting Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in The Netherlands,

published Atlas of Science: Visualizing What We Know in Cambridge, Massachusetts at MIT Press. This spectacular full color oblong folio book with an historical orientation represented one of the most original and certainly one of the most beautiful scholarly works ever published in the history of science. It grew out of an exhibit, Places & Spaces: Mapping Science, a ten year exhibition program that went public in 2005. This exhibit, which pulled together the work of numerous collaborators, was

"meant to inspire cross-disciplinary discussion on how to best track and communicate human activity and scientific progress on a global scale. It has two components: the physical part supports the close inspection of high quality reproductions of maps for display at conferences and education centers; the online counterpart provides links to a selected series of maps and their makers along with detailed explanations of how these maps work. The exhibit is a 10-year effort. Each year, 10 new maps are added resulting in 100 maps total in 2014."

View Map + Bookmark Entry

"Cartographies of Time: A History of the Timeline" 2010

In 2010 American intellectual historians Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton issued Cartographies of Time through the Princeton Architectural Press in New York. A fully illustrated history of graphic visualization of time and timelines from circa 400 CE to the present, this beautifully designed and produced work is an authoritative contribution to the history of information graphics with respect to time. In writing this work the authors drew attention to an aspect of historical writing that is generally undervalued by historians:

"Another reason for the gap in our historical and theoretical understanding of timelines is the relatively low status that we generally grant to chronology as a kind of study. Though we use chronologies all the time, and could not do without them, we typically see them as only distillations of complex historical narratives and ideas. Chronologies work, and—as far as most people are concerned—that's enough. But, as we will show in this book, it wasn't always so; from the classical period to the Renaissance in Europe, chronology was among the most revered of scholarly pursuits. Indeed, in some respects, it held a status higher than the study of history itself. While history dealt in stories, chronology dealt in facts. Moreover, the facts of chronology had significant implications outside of the academic study of history. For Christians, getting chronology right was the key to many practical matters such as knowing when to cleebrate Easter and weightly ones such as knowing when the Apocalypse was nigh.

"Yet, as historian Hayden White has argued, despite the clear cultural importance of chronology, it has been difficult to induce Western historians to think of it as anything more than a rudimentary form of historiography. The traditional account of the birth of modern historical thinking traces a path from the enumerated (but not yet narrated) medieval date lists called annals, through the narrated (but not yet narrative) accounts called chronicles, to fully narrative forms of historiography that emerge with modernity itself. According to this account, for something to qualify as historiography, it is not enough that it 'deal in real, rather than merely imaginery, events; and it is not enough that [it represent] events in its order of discourse according to the chronological framework in which they originally occurred. The events must be...revealed as possessing a structure, an order of meaning, that they do not possess as mere sequence. Long thought of as 'mere sequences,' in our histories of history, chronologies have usually been left out.

"But, as White argues, there is nothing 'mere' in the problem of assembiing coherent chronologies nor their visual analogues. Like their modern successors, traditional chronographic forms performed both rote historical work and heavy conceptual lifting. They assembled, selected, and organized diverse bits of historical information in the form of dated lists. And the chronologies of a given period may tell us as much about its visions of past and future as do its historical narratives" (Rosenberg & Grafon p. 11).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Acknowledges that it Collected Wi-Fi Information Along with Cartographic and Imaging Information April 27 – June 10, 2010

"Over the weekend, there was a lot of talk about exactly what information Google Street View cars collect as they drive our streets. While we have talked about the collection of WiFi data a number of times before--and there have been stories published in the press--we thought a refresher FAQ pulling everything together in one place would be useful. This blog also addresses concerns raised by data protection authorities in Germany.

"What information are your cars collecting? 

"We collect the following information--photos, local WiFi network data and 3-D building imagery. This information enables us to build new services, and improve existing ones. Many other companies have been collecting data just like this for as long as, if not longer, than Google.

"♦Photos: so that we can build Street View, our 360 degree street level maps. Photos like these are also being taken by TeleAtlas and NavTeq for Bing maps. In addition, we use this imagery to improve the quality of our maps, for example by using shop, street and traffic signs to refine our local business listings and travel directions;

"♦WiFi network information: which we use to improve location-based services like search and maps. Organizations like the German Fraunhofer Institute and Skyhook already collect this information globally;

"♦and 3-D building imagery: we collect 3D geometry data with low power lasers (similar to those used in retail scanners) which help us improve our maps. NavTeq also collects this information in partnership with Bing. As does TeleAtlas.

"What do you mean when you talk about WiFi network information?

"WiFi networks broadcast information that identifies the network and how that network operates. That includes SSID data (i.e. the network name) and MAC address (a unique number given to a device like a WiFi router).

"Networks also send information to other computers that are using the network, called payload data, but Google does not collect or store payload data.*  

"But doesn’t this information identify people? 

"MAC addresses are a simple hardware ID assigned by the manufacturer. And SSIDs are often just the name of the router manufacturer or ISP with numbers and letters added, though some people do also personalize them. However, we do not collect any information about householders, we cannot identify an individual from the location data Google collects via its Street View cars.  

"Is it, as the German DPA states, illegal to collect WiFi network information? 

"We do not believe it is illegal--this is all publicly broadcast information which is accessible to anyone with a WiFi-enabled device. Companies like Skyhook have been collecting this data cross Europe for longer than Google, as well as organizations like the German Fraunhofer Institute.  

"Why did you not tell the DPAs that you were collecting WiFi network information?

"Given it was unrelated to Street View, that it is accessible to any WiFi-enabled device and that other companies already collect it, we did not think it was necessary. However, it’s clear with hindsight that greater transparency would have been better.  

"Why is Google collecting this data?

"The data which we collect is used to improve Google’s location based services, as well as services provided by the Google Geo Location API. For example, users of Google Maps for Mobile can turn on “My Location” to identify their approximate location based on cell towers and WiFi access points which are visible to their device. Similarly, users of sites like Twitter can use location based services to add a geo location to give greater context to their messages.  

"Can this data be used by third parties? 

"Yes--but the only data which Google discloses to third parties through our Geo Location API is a triangulated geo code, which is an approximate location of the user’s device derived from all location data known about that point. At no point does Google publicly disclose MAC addresses from its database (in contrast with some other providers in Germany and elsewhere).

"Do you publish this information?

"No" (http://googlepolicyeurope.blogspot.com/2010/04/data-collected-by-google-cars.html, accessed 05-23-2012).

On June 9, 2010 Google announced in its Official Blog that it had "mistakenly included code" in its software that collected "samples of payload data" from unencrypted WiFi networks, but not from encrypted WiFI networks.  It also announced that in response to requests from the Irish Data Protection Authority it was deleting payload data collected from Irish WiFi networks.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The 2010 Social Networking "World Map" August 5, 2010

Ethan Bloch, founder of Flowtown.com, created the 2010 Social Networking Map.

This was intended as a tribute to XKCD’s ‘Map of Online Communities’ published in 2007. The differences between the two maps, reflective of extremely rapid changing in the social network world, were dramatic!

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Earth 6: Enhanced 3D, 3D Trees, Enhanced Historical Imagery November 30, 2010

Google Earth 6, introduced on November 30, 2010, enabled the user to "fly from outer space down to the streets with the new Street View and easily navigate. . . . Switch to ground-level view to see the same location in 3D."  

The program also introduced 3D trees in locations all over the world, and a more user-friendly interface for the historical imagery enabling comparison of recent and historical satellite imagery when available.

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The Google Earth Engine December 2, 2010

On December 2, 2010 Google introduced the Google Earth Engine, a cloud computing platform for processing satellite imagery and other Earth observation data. The engine provides access to a large warehouse of satellite imagery and the computational power needed to analyze those images. Initial applications of the platform included mapping the forests of Mexico, identifying water in the Congo basin, and detecting deforestation in the Amazon.


"Google Earth Engine brings together the world's satellite imagery—trillions of scientific measurements dating back more than 25 years—and makes it available online with tools for scientists, independent researchers, and nations to mine this massive warehouse of data to detect changes, map trends and quantify differences to the earth's surface" (http://earthengine.googlelabs.com/#intro).

"On February 11, [2013] NASA launched Landsat 8, the latest in a series of Earth observation satellites which started collecting information about the Earth in 1972. We're excited to announce that on May 30th, the USGS began releasing operational data from the Landsat 8 satellite, which are now available on Earth Engine. Explore the gallery below to see how we've used Landsat data to visualize thirty years of change across the entire planet. Congratulations to NASA and USGS for a successful launch!" (http://earthengine.google.org/#intro, accessed 10-20-2013). 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

3D Maps for Android Mobil Devices December 16, 2010

On December 16, 2010 Google announced Google Maps 5.0 for Android, with two significant new features: 3D interaction and offline reliability.

"In order to create these features, we rebuilt Maps using vector graphics to dynamically draw the map as you use it. Building a vector graphics engine capable of achieving the visual quality and performance level you expect from Google Maps was a major technical challenge and enables all sorts of future possibilities. So we wanted to give you a closer look under the hood at the technology driving the next generation of mobile maps.

". . . . Previously, Google Maps downloaded the map as sets of individual 256x256 pixel 'image tiles.'Each pre-rendered image tile was downloaded with its own section of map imagery, roads, labels and other features baked right in. Google Maps would download each tile as you needed it and then stitch sets together to form the map you see. It takes more than 360 billion tiles to cover the whole world at 20 zoom levels! Now, we use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map. Maps will download 'vector tiles' that describe the underlying geometry of the map. You can think of them as the blueprints needed to draw a map, instead of static map images. Because you only need to download the blueprints, the amount of data needed to draw maps from vector tiles is drastically less than when downloading pre-rendered image tiles. Google Maps isn’t the first mobile app to use vector graphics—in fact, Google Earth and our Navigation (Beta) feature do already. But a combination of modern device hardware and innovative engineering allow us to stream vector tiles efficiently and render them smoothly, while maintaining the speed and readability we require in Google Maps" (The Official Google Blog, 12-17-2010).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

The U. S. National Broadband Map February 17, 2011

The National Broadband Map (NBM), a searchable and interactive website that allows users to view broadband availability across every neighborhood in the United States, was first published.

The NBM was created by the U. S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and in partnership with 50 states, five territories and the District of Columbia. The NBM is a project of NTIA's State Broadband Initiative. The NBM will be updated approximately every six months. 

View Map + Bookmark Entry

An Interactive Map of the Internet Later Produced as an iPhone App March 2011 – March 2013

In March 2011 peer1 hosting (peer1.com), headquartered in Vancouver, B. C., issued The Map of the Internet, a visual representation of all the networks around the world that were interconnected to form the Interent. These included small and large Interent service providers (ISPs), Internet exchange points, university networks, and organization entworks such as Facebook and Google. The size of the nodes and the thickness of the interconnecting lines reflected the size of particular providers in relation to one another. This map was produced as a two-dimension poster that could be downloaded from their website.

"Geek Version – You’re looking at all the autonomous systems that make up the Internet. Each autonomous system is a network operated by a single organization, and has routing connections to some number of neighboring autonomous systems. The image depicts a graph of 19,869 autonomous system nodes, joined by 44,344 connections. The sizing and layout of the autonomous systems are based on their eigenvector centrality, which is a measure of how central to the network each autonomous system is: an autonomous system is central if it is connected to other autonomous systems that are central. This is the same graph-theoretical concept that forms the basis of Google’s PageRank algorithm. The Map of the Internet image layout begins with the most central nodes and proceeds to the least, positioning them on a grid that subdivides after each order of magnitude of centrality. Within the constraints of the current subdivision level, nodes are placed as near as possible to previously-placed nodes that they are connected to" (http://www.peer1.com/blog/2011/03/map-of-the-internet-2011, accessed 03-14-2013).

Two years later, in March 2013, peer1 issued their Map of the Internet as a free iPhone app.  This visually distinctive and beautiful interactive app, based on data provided by The Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (caida) allowed users to:

• Zoom and pan to enlarge or rotate the map in 3D

• Tap on nodes to learn more about them

• Browse historical data and events that shaped the Internet

• Perform a traceroute to a node from your network

• Search for companies or domains

• Change views to see geographic or hierarchical maps

View Map + Bookmark Entry

Google Maps 6.0 for Android Introduces Indoor Maps and a "My Location" Feature November 29, 2011

“ 'Where am I?' and 'What's around me?' are two questions that cartographers, and Google Maps, strive to answer. With Google Maps’ 'My Location' feature, which shows your location as a blue dot, you can see where you are on the map to avoid walking the wrong direction on city streets, or to get your bearings if you’re hiking an unfamiliar trail. Google Maps also displays additional details, such as places, landmarks and geographical features, to give you context about what’s nearby. And now, Google Maps for Android enables you to figure out where you are and see where you might want to go when you’re indoors.

"When you’re inside an airport, shopping mall or retail store, a common way to figure out where you are is to look for a freestanding map directory or ask an employee for help. Starting today, with the release of Google Maps 6.0 for Android, that directory is brought to the palm of your hands, helping you determine where you are, what floor you're on, and where to go indoors.

"Detailed floor plans automatically appear when you’re viewing the map and zoomed in on a building where indoor map data is available. The familiar 'blue dot' icon indicates your location within several meters, and when you move up or down a level in a building with multiple floors, the interface will automatically update to display which floor you’re on. All this is achieved by using an approach similar to that of ‘My Location’ for outdoor spaces, but fine tuned for indoors." (http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/new-frontier-for-google-maps-mapping.html, accessed. 12-1-2011)

View Map + Bookmark Entry

2012 – 2016

Introduction of "Arches": an Open-source, Web-based, Geospatial Information System for Cultural Heritage Inventory and Management December 4, 2013

On December 4, 2013 The Getty Conservation Institute (GCI) and World Monuments Fund (WMF) and Farallon Geographics announced the public release of Arches 1.0—an open-source, web-based geospatial information system (GIS) for cultural heritage inventory and management, built specifically to help heritage organizations safeguard cultural heritage sites worldwide.  

"By incorporating a broad range of international standards, Arches meets a critical need in terms of gathering, making accessible and preserving key information about cultural heritage. “Knowing what you have is the critical first step in the conservation process. Inventorying heritage assets is a major task and a major investment,” said Bonnie Burnham, President and CEO of World Monuments Fund.

"Cultural heritage inventories are difficult to establish and maintain. Agencies often rely on costly proprietary software that is frequently a mismatch for the needs of the heritage field or they create custom information systems from scratch. Both approaches remain problematic and many national and local authorities around the world are struggling to find resources to address these challenges. The GCI and WMF have responded to this need by partnering to create Arches, which is available at no cost. Arches can present its user interface in any language or in multiple languages, and is configurable to any geographic location or region. It is web-based to provide for the widest access and requires minimal training.

"The system is freely available for download from the Internet so that institutions may install it at any location in the world. “Our hope is that by creating Arches we can help reduce the need for heritage institutions to expend scarce resources on creating systems from the ground up, and also alleviate the need for them to engage in the complexities and constantly changing world of software development,” said Tim Whalen, Director of the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. In developing Arches, the GCI and WMF consulted international best practices and standards, engaging nearly 20 national, regional, and local government heritage authorities from the US, England, Belgium, France, and the Middle East, as well as information technology experts from the US and Europe. The contributions of English Heritage and the Flanders Heritage Agency have played a particularly important role during the development process. Data provided by English Heritage has been valuable for system development, and it is incorporated as a sample data set within the demonstration version of Arches.

"The careful integration of standards in Arches also will encourage the creation and management of data using best practices. This makes the exchange and comparison of data between Arches and other information systems easier, both within the heritage community and related fields, and it will ultimately support the longevity of important information related to cultural sites. Once the Arches system is installed, institutions implementing it can control the degree of visibility of their data. They may choose to have the system and its data totally open to online access, partially open, accessible with a log-in, not accessible at all, or somewhere in between" (http://artdaily.com/news/66701/Getty-and-World-Monuments-Fund-release-Arches-Software-to-help-safeguard-cultural-heritage-sites-#.UqM80_SIBcY, accessed 12-07-2013).

View Map + Bookmark Entry

A Neural Network that Reads Millions of Street Numbers January 1, 2014

To read millions of street numbers on buildings photographed for Google StreetView, Google built a neural network that developed reading accuracy comparable to humans assigned to the task. The company uses the images to read house numbers and match them to their geolocation, storing the geolocation of each building in its database. Having the street numbers matched to physical location on a map is always useful, but it is particularly useful in places where street numbers are otherwise unavailable, or in places such as Japan and South Korea, where streets are rarely numbered in chronological order, but in other ways, such as the order in which they were constructed— a system that makes many buildings impossibly hard to find, even for locals.

"Recognizing arbitrary multi-character text in unconstrained natural photographs is a hard problem. In this paper, we address an equally hard sub-problem in this domain viz. recognizing arbitrary multi-digit numbers from Street View imagery. Traditional approaches to solve this problem typically separate out the localization, segmentation, and recognition steps. In this paper we propose a unified approach that integrates these three steps via the use of a deep convolutional neural network that operates directly on the image pixels. We employ the DistBelief implementation of deep neural networks in order to train large, distributed neural networks on high quality images. We find that the performance of this approach increases with the depth of the convolutional network, with the best performance occurring in the deepest architecture we trained, with eleven hidden layers. We evaluate this approach on the publicly available SVHN dataset and achieve over 96% accuracy in recognizing complete street numbers. We show that on a per-digit recognition task, we improve upon the state-of-the-art and achieve 97.84% accuracy. We also evaluate this approach on an even more challenging dataset generated from Street View imagery containing several tens of millions of street number annotations and achieve over 90% accuracy. Our evaluations further indicate that at specific operating thresholds, the performance of the proposed system is comparable to that of human operators. To date, our system has helped us extract close to 100 million physical street numbers from Street View imagery worldwide."

Ian J. Goodfellow, Yaroslav Bulatov, Julian Ibarz, Sacha Arnoud, Vinay Shet, "Multi-digit Number Recognition from Street ViewImagery using Deep Convolutional Neural Networks," arXiv:1312.6082v2.

View Map + Bookmark Entry