All of us have used maps sometime or the other to know about abstract or geographic phenomena like temperatures or roads. Have you ever thought about how maps came into being or how they have evolved over the centuries? Or creating your own map? If not, here's your chance of knowing a few interesting things about how maps have helped portray information over the centuries.
The earliest maps
Though there's some debate on when the first map was found, Babylonian clay tablets (approximately 2300 B.C) are believed to depict the oldest known maps. People of ancient Greece were well versed in cartography and Greek philosophers belonging to the time of Aristotle (ca. 350 B.C.) knew the concept of a spherical Earth well. One interesting fact here is the “world map" of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy, about A.D. 85-165) that showed the Old World from approximately 60°N to 30°S latitudes. No wonder that Greek and Roman cartography touched a new height during this period.
Roman Road maps
In 2007, the Peutinger Map was placed for public display. This map showed a road network of the Roman Empire and was copied on a scroll media in 12th century from the original - a 5th century map.
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Maps from Asia and Europe
The 4th century BCE Qin maps drawn on wooden blocks using black ink were the earliest maps in China. Later, the Han maps evolved into more complex ones as they used well-designed map symbols, covered larger areas, and showed additional information on the local population as well as the local military sites.
In India, the early maps showed legendary paintings and locations related to the Indian epic poetry. Though the pictorial maps by Bhavabhuti - the 8th century scholar, and the reproduction of some ancient Indian maps by European scholar Francesco I were important works, it was only during the Mughal Dynasty that maps detailing a wide range of information came into existence.
The Renaissance in Europe, and the discovery of the Americas revived interest in scientific mapping methods and European mapmaking started using modern technological advances.
Maps for IT Savvy Users
Though maps with orthogonal and non-orthogonal views are still in use, digital maps have become the norm these days. You can create maps now a days to meet a specific need or to be used for more general purposes. A wide variety of sizes and scales can be incorporated to include specific details or stylized representations of imaginary or perceived phenomena. What's more - with several interactive features, you can make them user-friendly and include additional or new details without much of a hassle.
Digital maps especially could be a great way to boost your online business as you can easily add clickable icons, points, mouse-over text, tool tips and info boxes, legends etc to a static image map, and embed the same into your website with just a few clicks. With digital maps, you can even turn your custom map images into clickable online maps.
Some digital map programs also feature a heat map to present geographical data in numerical values using colors. This presentation is used to promptly interpret a large number of values to visualize the location-based data by highlighting trends and distributions across a geographic area. A number of interesting topics have been created, providing a completely new angle of viewing maps to enhance web visitors' level of knowledge. For example, a heat map depicts the Swine Flu outbreaks throughout the world, to let people know how the disease is spreading so as to avoid visiting those places. Leveraging a heat map, international business companies such as McDonald's can depict distribribution of branches in different regions of the world. A heat map showing locations where earthquakes take place the most frequently is highly useful for scientists to study earthquakes.
Map making has definitely come of age with these digital and online maps.
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