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The History of Cartography

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The Greeks first introduced cartography by flattening the earth into a multitude of two-dimensional shapes that preserve specific traits of the earth. The study of cartography is the art and science of map making and can date back to clay tablets in 2300 B.C. The word cartography is derived from the Greek words “chartes”, meaning sheet of papyrus, and “graphy”, meaning writing. This phrase was composed in the 19th century although the Portuguese scholar Manuel Francisco de Barros e Sousa was in need of a new word that would describe maps, and in-turn, created cartography. By the end of the 19th century the meaning of cartography had changed to the word for map drawing. Dot maps of constellations have dated back from 12,000 B.C. where cave paintings and rock carvings used visual elements that aided in the recognition of physical features. Dating back to 25,000 B.C. a map-like representation of a mountain, river and routes, which are located in Pavlov, Czech Republic. Cartography is so old, in fact, that it predates written language as a form of communication.

A map is much more then just a sheet of paper, a map is a product of human creativity and has been made since human prehistory to represent the concepts of humanity’s place in the world. They were created by imperial states as tools of power and used by individuals to aid in the understanding of the study itself. When asked to describe what cartography is, most will respond with it being both an art as well as a science. But in reality, it is best to be thought of as a craft that combines knowledge from both graphic design as well as mathematics. To thrive in the study of cartography, one must expand their skills in both of these areas. For thousands of years cartography...

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... that is being killed by technology. Twenty years ago cartography was on a sheet of paper and was considered an art form. But today, the creation of a map consists of pixels and digital animation programs that allow a computer to do the work, while the creator simply types in a few codes that instruct the program to create the map. Cartography consisted of technological components for a while, although, because of the constant improvement on computer software’s and its tools, the role that the job previously consisted of, is slowly deteriorating. The future that cartography holds all depends on technology and how it interprets such an art form that was so widely respected. Here are a few examples of today’s cartography, which is stated in (figure 1, and figure 2). Figure one, being a depiction of London, indicating Universities. Figure 2 depict elevation levels.
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