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What is a Map?

Whereas globes are three dimensional models

of the earth, a map is a representation of the
whole or part of an area on a flat surface.
This flattening results in distortion.
Cartographers, those who make maps, use
different strategies to flatten an area called a
map projections.

Elements of a Map
Orientation: cardinal directions
o Latitude, Equator
o Longitude, Prime Meridian,
International Date Line
o Poles

1. How do we measure direction? We use the sun that runs along an east-west axis. At night we use the North Star or Polaris. With the Chinese
development of a compass, that technology has been essential for finding direction.
2. What do latitude lines indicate? Lattitude lines generally indicate changes in climate. Moving north or south from the equator, the climate gets cooler.
3. How do we measure latitude? The Muslim technology of the astrolabe (or quadrant) measures the degrees of lattitude by using the Polaris as a
reference point.
4. What do longitude line inidicate? Longitude lines indicate time. The 360 degrees is divided by a 24 hour day.
5. How do we measure longitude? While local time was easily measured by observing the sun or using sun dials, two developments were required for
comparing different times: 1. Establishing a Prime Meridian for other locations to be compared to and 2: developing a clock that could be transported
from one place to another with the time of the Prime Meridian. That spring powered clock was not developed until c. 1750.
6. What do the poles of the earth indicate? The poles indicate the axis which the eartch revolves on.
7. What does the equator inidcate? The divides the earth into northern and southern hemispheres.
Ptolemy Geographia (earliest known copy c.1300) Al Adrisi World Map, 1154

Hereford mappamundi (c. 1300) Isidore of Seville Etymologies (T-O Map) 1472
Author / Publisher: Knowing who created the map may offer hints as to the maps bias or biases. Does this person or organization have a vested interest in how
the map is perceived by the map reader? For example, town plats, maps created by western promoters, were aimed at attracting prospective settlers. Often
they were purely propaganda.
Place of Publication: In what country or city was the map published? What language(s) does the map employ? This could provide insights into potential
nationalistic biases.
Date: When the map was constructed helps to place the map in its chronological context. Does the map reflect true facts? Post-1990 maps of Europe should
show one Germany, not two.
Audience: Who was the intended audience? What message did the mapmaker want to send? Why was the map produced?
Source of Data: If the map uses secondary data sources, such as census material, knowing the source of the data will help in assessing the appropriateness of the
data and thereby the map.
Origin: Was the map drawn? printed in limited numbers? mass-produced? This is often related to the date the map was initially created.
Context: How does the map fit with earlier and later maps? How does the map reflect new discoveries?