The ancient Greeks are known as really intelligent people and it does not seem too far off that they are also the inventors of cartography.

But let's stop right there before we dive into the history of cartography. What does this word even mean? Maybe some of you already connected the dots. The old Greek word "χάρτης" (xartis) for paper or map and the word "γράγειν" (grafin) for write. So we are talking about map-writing or better yet map-making. The complete definition is the discipline of dealing with conception, production, dissemination and the study of maps. In general, it is a complex and ever-changing field that ranges from collecting data and evaluating it to the graphic design of a map. Some say it is a unique mixture of science, art and technology.

Map by Anaximander

Maps play a fundamental role nowadays in our society. They are related to weather forecasts, road constructions, navigation, property ownership and many more. But what was the reason to even think about creating something so complex? Well, sailors needed something  to choose routes in advance and armies to plan their attacks and record their travel.

It was a Greek philosopher, Anaximander, who drew the first map of the world on a piece of paper. It included Europe, Asia, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In his opinion the earth was cylindrical and our part of the world was disk-shaped and on top of that cylinder that floated in the space. In general, Greek map-makers often put Greece in the center of the world and only recognized two continents, Europe and Asia. Anaximander was for sure not right about everything but he still made an important advance in making accurate maps.

Many years later it was another Greek, Eratosthenes of Cyrene, also know as the "Father of Geography" who invented something that became essential for map-making: parallels and meridians which allowed people to mark and find locations more easily. This was also crucial for the work of Claudios Ptolemy who wrote a textbook called "Geography" that contained 8000 maps of the world.

You can see that many Greek philosophers and geographers worked together to invent and improve cartography. Anyway, what I just told you could have easily been done by the Romans or Babylonians too. If you want to find out if cartography is really a Greek invention check out the solution at the bottom!



Truth. The Greeks were the first to create maps of our world on paper. In a way, they are the reason for Google Maps' existence.

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