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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Resources  |  Maps of the Ancient World  |  Topic: Earliest map 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Aleph
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« on: October 25, 2015, 04:13:35 pm »

What is the earliest map known?  Are there any known maps that were transmitted from antiquity?  Do we know how the ancients actually visualised the classical world?  Thanks to Andrew for the thought provoking post on Polybius' map.

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« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 05:57:20 pm »

What is the earliest map known?  Are there any known maps that were transmitted from antiquity?  Do we know how the ancients actually visualised the classical world?  Thanks to Andrew for the thought provoking post on Polybius' map.

Kevin

Kevin was referring to this post:

http://www.forumancientcoins.com/board/index.php?topic=103657.0

Isn't Polybius' map-description effectively a map - given its precise directions regarding angles and distances?

The Greek Ptolemy drew a world map rather like Polybius that has come down to us dating from the second century AD. However Ptolemy's map is as Polybius, descriptive using angles and distances. So it's no different in concept than Polybius' but three hundred years later. Polybius thus may have been the first proper attempt at a world map. Ptolemy is however better known because it was transferred to a drawn layout in the middle ages. See

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ptolemy%27s_world_map

 There are also quite a few city maps, forum layouts etc, engraved in marble, found in old Roman forums and such like.

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Matthew C5
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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 10:17:36 am »

Hi Kevin, if you wanted to look deeper into the map question, you could take a look at the work done by Rand and rose Flem-Ath in their book 'When the Sky Fell'.  Sure it is a controversial book pushing the limits to find what we now like to ridicule as 'Atlantis', yet it provides some neat takes on reproduced 'source maps' from antiquity

Graham Hancock refers to this in his 'Fingerprints of the Gods' which does a good summary in the 1st chapter of the book.  If you like to read non-fiction, I recommend this book;)



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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 01:38:24 pm »

O.A.W Dilke _Greek & Roman Maps_ John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, London, 1998 (hb 1985). 
"In Greek and Roman Maps, O.A.W Dilke follows the development of map-making skills, beginning in Babylonia and Egypt, through the contribution of Greek scientists an Roman administrators and surveyors, to the Age of Discovery.  He provides examples of a full range of Greek and Roman maps, including town and building plans, itineraries and road maps, sea itineraries, and maps in art form." from the back cover. pp.224

Anaximander of Miletus, the second philosopher (after Thales), was said to have made the first map (in the Greeks opinion, anyhow).  He may have also made a celestial map.  Herodotus talks about Aristagoras, tyrant of Miletus, having a metal map.  There is a Persian coin that is said to have on the reverse a relief of the valley around Ephesus, but I don't know if that statement is accurate or just wishful thinking.

There are two Greek geographies from the ancient world, Strabo and Pausanias.  Strabo starts his work discussing the "father of geography," Homer.  If I remember right, Strabo is going throughout the Mediterranean and environs.  Pausanias is more a tourist log around mainland Greece.  Neither Pausanias or Strabo actually portray a map, although Pausanias is probably good for modern restoration of temple sites.
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 04:49:46 pm »

Some interesting images here; they might be worth chasing up further.

http://matadornetwork.com/goods/the-worlds-oldest-maps/
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« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 06:09:17 am »

I second the recommendation for Dilke's Greek and Roman Maps. It is one of the best books about maps from the classical world I know of (I've read it 3 times!).

With all do respect to Matthew C5, avoid Flem-Ath's When the Sky Fell. Yes, ancient maps are discussed, but only through a pseudoarchaeological perspective and are used to support some pretty daft theories.
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« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 07:38:07 am »

True David, 'When the Sky Fell'  does stretch the possibilities in a brand of pseudoarchaeology, yet I have found as many daft theories within modern accepted archaeology as well.  The basis of the book is a theory concerning earth crust displacement, which although considered possible by Albert Einstein himself, needs some more data to back it up.

This being said, we would have never found Troy without considering 'daft' possibilities, and hypothesizing finding a site such as Gobekli Tepe would have been ridiculed by academics 30 years ago.  For pure fun pick-up a copy of Plato's book Timaeus and Critias (original and only Atlantis account) and you will find a reference:

'...island opposite a continent larger than Libya (North Africa) and the Asia (Middle East) combined'

If Plato did not lie, and disrespect Solon, one of the most respected ancient Greeks, this reference would refer to North America.  Therefore, I believe that it is resonably possible that one day a much older map of the world might turn-up by some archaeological team.

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« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 08:31:02 am »

None of these maps are truly ancient.  Some are later creations based on ancient descriptions (not drawings) of directions and distances. While it seems to us that drawing the contours of land and sea, and the locations of cities, mountains, etc. from the perspective of the sky above is completely intuitive, it is not.  Apparently map making is technology not intuition and we know it only because we learned it from our ancestors.  Ancient maps apparently do not exist.  
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« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2015, 09:22:33 am »

None of these maps are truly ancient.  Some are later creations based on ancient descriptions (not drawings) of directions and distances. While it seems to us that drawing the contours of land and sea, and the locations of cities, mountains, etc. from the perspective of the sky above is completely intuitive, it is not.  Apparently map making is technology not intuition and we know it only because we learned it from our ancestors.  Ancient maps apparently do not exist.  

Well from a scientific viewpoint I'd say ancient maps do exist - just not in the two dimensional format (distance N-S and distance E-W) we are all used to today, but in a different two dimensional format where one dimension is distance (between points) and the other is angle (between those points and north). You can produce exactly the same result with distance-angle map as with a distance-distance map, but with the tremendous advantage that you can "code" the map much more easily in words. The end result is the same however. With a modern-mindset distance-distance map, the map can be reproduced with a list of coordinates, no one doubts that such a list is equivalent to the map itself, but such a list isn't very user friendly to a reader. With an ancient mindset distance-angle map you've the same data but in a manner that is instantly usable by someone on ship or horseback to guide his direction. It provides the ease of use factor that we get to today from a large folded piece of paper.

So, I'd say that ancient maps do exist, but we just don't understand what a map is, and can't recognise a text map when placed in front of us.
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« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2015, 04:15:52 pm »

Something surely has to have existed, even if only in oral form, to allow the ancients to navigate. Even if it's something as simple as 'sail south till the butter melts, and then due west' (I don't know whether those were real sailing directions to the Caribbean or not) is a step towards mapping, and sooner or later someone's going to draw it out. The question then is, when did this happen?
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« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2015, 04:22:32 pm »

What's the idea about earth crust displacement in 'When the Sky Fell'? I studied geology in the 1970's and there was a lot known about the motion of the crust then. It undoubtedly happens, it's extremely predictable in terms of human time, and if anyone's proposing sudden vast shifts or anything like that, it'll be nonsense.
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« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2015, 07:49:07 pm »

None of these maps are truly ancient.  Some are later creations based on ancient descriptions (not drawings) of directions and distances. While it seems to us that drawing the contours of land and sea, and the locations of cities, mountains, etc. from the perspective of the sky above is completely intuitive, it is not.  Apparently map making is technology not intuition and we know it only because we learned it from our ancestors.  Ancient maps apparently do not exist.  

Does this count?

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/m/map_of_the_world.aspx

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« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2015, 08:10:45 pm »

Maybe it is a "map" but, to me, considering all the other amazing accomplishments of the ancients, their "maps" are disappointing.
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« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2015, 08:15:51 pm »

I think the Forma Urbis Romae is more in line with what we would call a 'map'. http://formaurbis.stanford.edu/
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« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2015, 08:34:18 pm »

Yes, that looks much more like a modern map.
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« Reply #15 on: October 28, 2015, 03:55:48 pm »

The Babylonian map has some resemblance to early European maps which put Jerusalem at the centre to make a theological point. They both have a distinct religious dimension.
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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2015, 06:28:16 am »

If you go back to the ancient Near East, there are Sumerian and Babylonian maps of cities.  They are rather abstract and do not show every detail, but they clearly lay out the chief roads and gates.
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2015, 10:29:35 pm »

It is not a map, but Samos->Delphi->Kroton is on a straight line (calculated from latitude and longitude);
Also, Delos, Delphi and Metapontum are on a straight line (well, 1/2 degree off).

Pythagoras moved from Samos to Kroton, Delphi of course, was the center (omphalos) of the world and very important to Pythagoras.  The oracle was called the Pythian oracle, and Pythagoras was said to speak publicly like the Pythian oracle (Pythios-agorein).  In fact, he was said to _be_ Apollo, and when he moved to Metapontum, he created another chain, Delos is the birthplace of Apollo, Delphi is the site of the mature Apollo, and when Pythagoras died in Metapontum, he made it the death place of Apollo.

But don't take my word for it, look up the poleis (cities) on Wikipedia, get their latitudes and longitudes and find an airplane website for mapping from point A to point B.

I cannot help but believe that Pythagoras knew what he was doing moving from one end of the Greek world, to the other end, Samos to Kroton, with a consultation at Delphi, but also Delos, where he was said to have buried his teacher, Pherecydes of Syros, to Metapontum, to where he had his apotheosis, Metapontum.  Did he have access to Anaximander's map? or the bronze map of the Milesians (which perhaps are one and the same)? 
Maybe there was more to the map than we usually recognize, oh sure, maybe at the borders it gets vague, and it says 'past this point there be dragons (or gold guarding griffins and giant ants), but for the Greek world, maybe they had some idea of the lay of the land, and Pythagoras used that knowledge to orchestrate his prophetic arrival.
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« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2015, 10:54:09 pm »

Maybe it is a "map" but, to me, considering all the other amazing accomplishments of the ancients, their "maps" are disappointing.

The link didn't work for me so I am not sure what was referred to as an ancient map.   

But I agree with the sentiment ..."considering all the other amazing accomplishments of the ancients, their "maps" are disappointing" ... particularly as far as coins are concerned:

Two coins purporting according to some to show the same map:

1) Persian Satraps in Ionia, Artaxerses III, circa 350 – 340
Double siglos, Ephesus circa 350-340, AR 14.94 g. The Great King advancing r., holding spear and bow. Rev. Relief map of the hinterland of Ephesus. Traité pl. LXXXIX, 8. Johnston, JHS 87, 23. Mildenberg, Studies Price, pl. LXI, 81.

2) Ionia or Lydia. Satrapal mint. c. 340 BC. Tetradrachm (Rhodian standard), 14.78g. (h). Obv: Persian Great King running to right, holding spear and bow. Rx: Incuse punch with irregular features, heavily stippled. A. Meadows, Pixodaros Hoard (CH IX), p. 209, pl. 30, 1st row, 1. Mildenberg, Vestigia Leonis, pp. 25 f. Nanteuil Coll. 481. De Hirsch Coll. 1528. Rather porous surfaces on obverse, otherwise VF.
The Rockefeller University/Dr. Alfred E. Mirsky .
This so-called satrapal issue has attracted the fantasy of numerous interpreters over the years. A. Johnston, JHS 87 (1967), pp. 86-94 suggested that the reverse punch might be something like a map of the hinterland of Ephesos comprising the Cayster and Maeander valleys. However, it is more likely to be just an archaizing pattern (see now B. Weisser, Arch. Anz. (2009, 1), pp. 154 f .

At best the jury is out on this one, through try as I might I have never been able to reconcile the reverse features to anything resembling the hinterland of Ephesos, even allowing for the five kilometre westward migration of the coastline due to sedimentation since the time of Artaxerses.
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2015, 11:48:43 pm »

One of the earliest "maps" I have seen is the Madaba (Medeba) Mosaic dating to 542 AD, to  found in an Orthodox Church in Jordan.  

The mosaic predates the Church by a millennia and shows the region from north of the Sea of Galilee to south of Jerusalem.  

It has many of the characteristics (but not all) of a modern map including the aerial view/plan, but clearly not scale.  

A few images from my visit to the Church are attached....

More info  http://www.bibleplaces.com/medebamap.htm
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« Reply #20 on: September 08, 2016, 06:49:19 pm »

I just came across the Tabula Peutingeriana.  This is a medieval copy of an alleged 4th to 5th century map of the roman road system which was itself supposedly based on an Augustan era survey.  This would qualify it as a genuine Roman map with a known transmission from antiquity.  I did not see that this had previously been mentioned and so thought I would share.

Kevin

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_Peutingeriana
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« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2017, 12:09:22 pm »

Please add the maps to Allison Sermarini's Maps of the Ancient World.  The maps use the same software as the fake coin reports and gallery. The maps are here: http://www.forumancientcoins.com/ancient-maps/
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