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Monday, 4 February 2008

Map of the world

The Gough Map , pictured top, is the oldest surviving road map of Britain - it was made in 1360 - but it is remarkably accurate (unless you're from Scotland or Wales - then it's not).

Phaidon published a book a few years back, called Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond which featured beautiful maps that showed how western (and eastern) understanding of the world's geography revolved around religion and commerce as much as geography. And fish featured heavily on many of the maps which is always a good thing.

The maps reveal how we see the world through what we mark on the map (trade and religion loom large here). Maps haven't changed so much since then. Through what is marked on them and how they are oriented, maps help to control the world so it becomes an abstract place devoid of human life and nature, where cities, roads and particular forms of power are given value, where scale and orientation centre the world around particular ways of thinking, which we take for granted.

There are different projections that challenge some of those ways of thinking in a geometric manner, but perhaps that geometric-logical way of thinking is part of the problem of how we understand the world and what we do to the world.

From top

The Gough Map - 1360

Barentz Map - 1595

Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi - 1150

Pedro Barreto de Resende - 1635

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