4TH YEAR GEOSPATIAL ENGINEERING
UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI.
Maps have been in existence for as long as human beings have been civilized that is quite a long time. A map is a visual representation of a three dimensional space on a two dimensional space. They were created mainly to help define, explain and navigate the world.
During the Precambrian times maps were made using primitive means but they still delivered the desired information. They were manually made using tools such as brushes and parchments; this compromised their quality in terms of accuracy and also made them be limited in distribution.
The first maps that were ever made were surprisingly of the heavens and not the earth .Dots dating to 16500 BCE found on walls of the Lascaux caves mapping out part of the night sky including the different constellations. Other ways of mapping were done by cave painting and rock carvings to represent things like hills, settlements etc. In ancient Babylonia maps were made using accurate surveying techniques, case in point is a clay tablet that was found at Ga-Sur near KirKuk which shows a map of a river valley between two hills. The hills were represented by overlapping semicircles, rivers by lines and cities by circles, was also marked to show cardinal directions. In Greece Anaximander was the first Greek to draw a map of the world and is consequently called the first mapmaker, later on other Greeks like Hecataeus continued his works since his map was never found, and drew a map describing the earth as a circular plate with an encircling ocean and Greece in the centre of the world. The map’s units of measurement were;”days of sailing” on the sea and “days of marching” on dry land.
In Roman Empire, the first map was the Roman road map and also maps were drawn during the Roman – Alamannic battle and in China there were the Qin State maps, Han Dynasty maps.
During the Renaissance period, maps became more like surveys, while the discovery of the Americas by Europeans and the subsequent effort to control and partition those lands revived interest in scientific mapping methods.
The Spanish cartographer and explorer Juan de la Cosa who sailed with Christopher Columbus as he discovered the Americas, created the first known cartographic representations showing both the Americas as well as Africa and Eurasia. The period during the .”Scramble and Partition for Africa” there was French map of Africa showing the colonial claims like which countries the. British , French, Belgians, German etc. ruled and also independent countries like Ethiopia.
Mapping has really metamorphosized over the years in line with the changes in technology which has had the domino effect on every sphere of our lives. We have moved from the days when production of maps was done through the use of tools such as brushes and parchments which resulted in maps which lacked accuracy and also were limited in distribution, to these days where mapping is done using sophisticated tools such as: compass which shows direction, telescope, sextant, theodolites, Electronic Distance Measurement, Total Station, printers which totally revolutionized how mapping is done and has allowed for the creation of far more accurate maps and the ability to make accurate reproductions.
The advent of computers hardware and softwares such as monitors, plotters, printers, scanners and analytic stereo plotters along with visualization, image processing, spatial analysis and database software, have democratized and greatly expanded the making of maps, especially with their ability to produce maps that show slightly different features, without engraving a new printing plate. The use of softwares such ArcGIS,ArcView,Idrisi,Erdas Imagine have also had a hand in making the production of maps easier and user friendly for people who don’t even have cartographic skills.
Map making has become really dynamic in light of how technology changes there are going to be ground breaking advances because of it. We can just wait to see how much further change there will be.
Notes from my course units of Cartography