"Those ancient humans who might have scratched directions in the sand or carved lines on wood were the first to practice the art of symbolic representation in the form of a map." @histodon @histodons @anthropology


@bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology sorry to say, but this is not a good history of maps in prehistory in Europe, and the parent book is deeply problematic. One fundamental point of framing of the latter: how can anyone say, as the author does, that Venice in mid-15c was “medieval” … or Iberia for that matter.

@bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology And as for prehistoric maps, there are so many assumptions and anachronisms entailed in saying X artifact was a map, that certainty is impossible; application of basic critical analysis means they are much more likely not maps.

@bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology The use of a late 19c construction (never re-construction) of the map ad mentem Eratosthenes is likely not the author’s doing, but the use of a world map to illustrate a piece about detailed maps of place reveals the deep rooted myth of cartography.

@mhedney Thank you Professor for your insightful comments. Playing devil's advocate, could not C15th Venice be considered 'medieval' at a very far stretch?

@bibliolater in this case, Prof. Smith is talking about map making in a city on the cutting edge of geography. Others in Venice were working on editions and working out implications of Ptolemy’s Geography, released ca. 1410 in Latin. Fra Mauro was working in part on a commission from the Portuguese, who’d been pushing new Atlantic voyages since 1420s.

@bibliolater (2) the monetary system, the trade system, the intellectual system in the Mediterranean was not medieval. To call it medieval requires adherence to early 19c myths re Columbus and the “discovery” of the new world creating a new mentality I.e. “the West”

@bibliolater (3) to call 15c medieval requires drastic oversimplifications and an ideology of a triumphal Renaissance that sets Europe/West apart from the rest of the world. The ideology was key in 19-20c imperialism, but just doesn’t hold water.

@bibliolater (4) and why insist on “medievalism” “at a very far stretch”? That formula requires one to acknowledge all the many ways that 15c Venice was NOT medieval in character.

@independentpen @bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology (a) the quest to “re”-construct the maps “in the mind of” or “on the table before” some ancient writer or philosopher — even the oral “Homer” is a post-1780 endeavor that makes modern-style maps from textual references. The constructs are purely modern.

@mhedney Are there any ancient maps that exist in archive? Or maplike images on other objects like pottery? This is an interesting topic @bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology

@independentpen @bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology best overview remains C Delano Smith in vol 1 of “The History of Cartography” - free at The Bedolini petroglyph mentioned in the article is a Bronze Age original. It’s v hard to identify a map w/out context!

@independentpen @bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology (b) “cartography” emerged in 19c as idealization that all the things we call maps, plans, charts are all part of the same process of turning the world to paper; the ideal was concretized with early 20c modernism and still holds conceptual sway

@independentpen @bibliolater @histodon @histodons @anthropology (c) personal plug: see my last book “Cartography: The Ideal and It’s History” (2019) … and await, no doubt with bated breath(!), the follow up “The Map: Concepts and Histories” (whenever I can finish it)

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