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date: 19 April 2024



  • Nicholas Purcell


Many cultures, including those of *Egypt and *Mesopotamia, use visual representations of aspects of space that cannot be directly perceived. The *Ionian Greeks (perhaps taking the idea from other traditions) produced the first maps in the classical tradition (*Eratosthenes, Strabo 1. 1. 11 (7), attributed the first map to *Anaximander); the famous one shown to *Cleomenes (1) I of Sparta by *Aristagoras(1) of Miletus (Hdt. 5. 49) is an example of such maps: these fit into the context of new world-views that are also found in *Hecataeus(1) and *Herodotus(1). World maps are mentioned at Athens in the late 5th cent. bce, but do not seem to have been widespread.These early maps were attempts to depict the wider order of the world rather than to survey smaller areas in detail; such local maps, if known, were not related conceptually to the geographers' task. Only the calculation of linear distances on some land routes (such as the *Royal Road) and on *periploi offered a bridge between the two: but there is no evidence that such linear conceptions of space were represented graphically before the Roman period.


  • Ancient Geography

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