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Theatre of Old Maps

The author grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist he also went to study Physical Geography (BSc) and Cartography (Masters). This website and its products are the result of more than 30 years of experience in Cartography, GIS and IT, both as a teacher and developer. Please visit my LinkedIN profile for more information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomaps18/

The author grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist he also went to study Physical Geography (BSc) and Cartography (Masters). This website and its products are the result of more than 30 years of experience in Cartography, GIS and IT, both as a teacher and developer. Please visit my LinkedIN profile for more information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomaps18/
Historical e-atlas Egypt
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Historical e-atlas Egypt

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Egypt in 44 historical maps: 20BC-2018 (134 pages). According to the classical scholar Strabo (20BC) the name Egypt is derived from the Greek Aigaíou Hyptíos, which means the “(Land) below the Aegean (sea)". One of the first separate maps of the region was designed by Ptolemy (150AD). The map was worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first separately printed maps of Egypt appeared in the (early) 16th century. Mostly, only the northern part (the Nile delta) of present-day Egypt was depicted. In the 17th century the coverage was extended to the south.
Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made
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Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made

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Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made (1972-date) This concise presentation (16 pages) shows how satellite images are generated. It focuses on Landsat, the longest running project for earth observation. The entire process is explained: from the reflected sunbeams on the earth surface to the colours on the screen.
Historical e-atlas Madagascar
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Historical e-atlas Madagascar

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Madagascar in 34 historical maps: 1502-2010 (112 pages). The name Madagascar was given by Portuguese explorers in the early 16th century. It is derived from Madageiscar, a corruption of Mogadishu, popularized by Marco Polo. In the 17th century various names were used by other European explorers and mapmakers. For example S.Laurentii (Latin) by the Dutch, Saint Laurence by the British and Isle Dauphine by the French. After being discovered by the Portuguese explorer Diaz the large island appeared on the world maps from about 1500 onwards. The first separately printed maps were made in the midst of the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Brazil
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Historical e-atlas Brazil

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Brazil in 46 historical maps: 1502-2018 (138 pages). The name Brazil or Terra do Brasil was introduced by Portuguese explorers. It is derived from pau-brasil, meaning “red-wood”. The word refers to a kind of timber which can be found scattered across the country. The similar Latin word brasa also refers to red-hot embers. The eastern coastline of Brazil - and (South) America in general - appeared for the first time on the world map of Alberto Cantino in 1502 and earlier on the manuscript map of Juan de la Cosa in 1500. The large world map of Martin Waldseemuller in 1507 was the first printed map that incorporated the new discovered land. The name America appeared on the map identifying the new discovered land. After realizing that Columbus - and not Amerigo Vespucci - had discovered the new continent, Waldseemuller changed the name in “Terra Incognita” on his later maps (e.g. in his atlas published in 1513).
Historical e-atlas Argentina and Chile
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Historical e-atlas Argentina and Chile

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Argentina and Chile in 39 historical maps: 1502-2010 (122 pages). The name Argentina refers to the Río de la Plata (Latin: Argenteus), meaning “Silver River”. It was given by the explorer Sebastian Cabot in the 1520s after acquiring some silver trinkets from a local tribe (the Guaraní). The origin of the name Chile is uncertain. It may be derived from the Mapuche word Chili , meaning “where the land ends”. (The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and south-western Argentina, including parts of the region Patagonia.) The name Patagonia (Patagão), covering large parts of present-day Argentina and Chile, was introduced by the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (1519-1522 voyage). It means “Land of big feet” referring to the huge people he reported to have seen. The southernmost part of South-America was first drawn on the famous Cantino map (1502), followed by a more accurate map of Ribero in 1527. The first maps of Argentina and Chile resembling the modern maps nowadays did not appear until the midst of the 19th century. This was after their independence from Spain in 1810 (Chile) and 1816 (Argentina).
Historical e-atlas Southeast Asia
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Historical e-atlas Southeast Asia

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Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia in 42 historical maps: 1522-2018 (132 pages). Indonesia is a former Dutch colony. Its name came into use after their independence in 1945. The name means Indian Islands. Before that the name Nederlands Oost-Indië (Dutch East Indies or short East Indies) was used on maps. Malaysia is a former British colony. The name is a combination of two Tamil/Sanskrit words meaning “hilltown”. The name came into use when several Indian Kingdoms entered present-day Malaysia dating back to the 3rd century. The Latin suffix ‘–sia’ was later added. The Philippines are a former Spanish colony. The name refers to King Philip II of Spain. The name appeared for the first time on maps at the end of the 16th century. The first separately printed maps of both groups of islands were published in the early 16th century by Italian cartographers. More detailed maps were made in the midst of the 17th century by Dutch explorers and mapmakers (VOC).
Historical e-atlas Israel
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Historical e-atlas Israel

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Israel in 37 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (118 pages). The (Latin) name Israel refers to the Jewish people and their nation. It originates from the Hebrew Bible as an appellation given to the biblical patriarch Jacob. The exact meaning of the name is uncertain. Most likely its original Hebrew name Yisra’el is derived from the words sara® and El, meaning “he who fought or contended with God”. The name was given to Jacob and extended to his descendants. They came to be known as the Israelites, eventually forming the tribes of Israel and ultimately the kingdom of Israel. Since the formation of the independent Jewish state, in 1948, it’s the official name of the country. Being the heart of the Holy Land numerous maps of the country have been made in the course of the history of cartography. On early (medieval) maps, based on the T-O concept, Israel and the capital city Jerusalem were regarded as the centre of the world. Even until the end of the 18th century cartographers incorporated biblical events and figures in their maps, referring to the time of the Old and New Testament.
The world in 50 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (142 pages)
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The world in 50 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (142 pages)

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This world atlas comprises 50 carefully selected world maps plus a description of their makers. Furthermore it includes a comprehensive insight in the history of cartography and how and why maps are/were made. The e-atlas shows how the world has changed through time and how map making techniques have evolved. Each era is represented by a number of maps drawn by the most famous (European) cartographers of their time. From early classical & medieval maps, via maps of 16th/17th century atlases (Golden Age of Cartography), to contemporary computer-generated images.
Historical e-atlas England
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Historical e-atlas England

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England in 42 historical maps: 1480-2018 (130 pages). In medieval times the name England (or Latin Anglia) was often used to identify the entire island of Great Britain. It means “Land of the Angles” and refers to the Celtic people living on the island prior to the Anglo-Saxon conquest. On later maps Anglia was limited to the southern part of the Island, and Scotia (Scotland) identified the Northern part. England was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first (printed) separate maps appeared at the end of the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Wales
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Historical e-atlas Wales

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Wales in 44 historical maps: 1150-2018 (134 pages). The name Wales (and Welsh) derives from the Germanic root Walh (plural Walha). The name refers to the Celtic tribes known to the Romans as Volcae, being used to identify all Celtic inhabitants of the Roman Empire. The Welsh name for Wales is Cymry. The word is descended from the Brythonic word combrogi, meaning “fellow-countrymen”. The Latinised form is Cambria. It has survived in various geographical names; e.g. the Cambrian Mountains, which cover much of Wales. (They also gave their name to the Cambrian geological period.) The name Cambria was also used on the earliest printed maps of Wales, at the end of the 16th century. On later maps it would become Wallia (Latin) and Wales (modern English).
Historical e-atlas Morocco
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Historical e-atlas Morocco

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Morocco in 32 historical maps: 1154-2010 (108 pages). The name Morocco most likely comes from a Berber phrase, meaning the “Land of God”. The Arabic name Al-Maghrib (English: Maghreb) refers to the northwestern part of Africa, not Morocco in particular. The first separate (printed) maps of Morocco appeared in the late 16th century. It was then divided into 2 kingdoms: The kingdom of Fez (Northern part) and the kingdom of Marocco (Southern part). The city Rabat was established as a fortress in 1150 near the former Roman settlement Sala Colonia (Chella). In 1959 it became the capital of an independent Morocco, after being a protectorate from France.
Historical e-atlas Sri Lanka
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Historical e-atlas Sri Lanka

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Sri Lanka in 36 historical maps: 1154-2010 (116 pages). The name Sri Lanka means “Holy Island” (from Sanskrit). Its former name is Ceylon, from Ceilão (Portuguese) and Zeilan (Dutch). It probably refers to “land of the lions”. On classical maps, based on Ptolemy’s writings, it was called Taprobana. This refers to “the island of King Rawana”. In the 16th and 17th century numerous separate maps appeared based on information of Dutch and Portuguese explorers. The capital city Colombo became an important harbour through the establishment of trading posts by Dutch, Portuguese and British colonists.
Historical e-atlas South-Africa
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Historical e-atlas South-Africa

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South-Africa in 46 historical maps: 1490-2018 (138 pages). The name Africa may be derived from the Phoenician word afar, meaning “dust”. The name Africa Terra (“Land of the dust”) was introduced by the ancient Romans to identify the northern part of the continent that corresponds to modern-day Tunisia. On classical Greek maps (e.g. Strabo’s world map) the name Libia was mostly used to identify the third known continent. During the Middle Ages, as the Europeans increased their knowledge and awareness of the size of the African continent, they progressively extended the name of Africa to the rest of the continent. Waldseemuller’s large map of 1507 - being partly based on Ptolemy’s ideas and new discovery’s - was one of the first world maps depicting the whole continent, including the South-African coastline. On the earlier world map of Martellus (1490) the southern part was truly out of shape; on Cantino’s world map (1502) it was corrected on account of information provided by Portuguese explorers. The first separately printed maps of the southern part of Africa appeared in the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Germany
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Historical e-atlas Germany

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Germany in 47 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (140 pages). The name Germany and other similar names are all derived from the Latin word Germania. Julius Caesar was the first to use the word Germanus in his writings when describing tribes in north-eastern Gaul (region stretching out from present-day France). However, its origin remains uncertain. Some (German) historians suggest that the word has Celtic roots. E.g. it may be derived from: gair (neighbour), gar (“noisy”, referring to the tribesman) or hari (“man at arms”). In English-speaking regions, the word German first appeared in about1520, replacing earlier uses of Alman and Dutch. Germany was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. It is also depicted on the Mappa Mundi during the middle ages. The first printed separate maps of the country appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-atlas China
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Historical e-atlas China

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China in 47 historical maps: 1137-2018 (140 pages). The most commonly theory suggests that the name China refers to the Qin dynasty, which ruled China from 221 till 206 BC. The name China was adopted by Martino Martini and other 17th century (European) cartographers. On earlier maps the name Cathay, based on Marco Polo’s Italian name Catai, was used to identify the northern part of present-day China. The (eastern) coastline of China was not yet depicted on early European (world) maps based on Ptolemy’s descriptions. The large wall maps of Cresques (1375) and Fra Mauro (1450) were the first European world maps showing the extent of China to the east. On the other hand, a few centuries earlier, Chinese cartographers had already produced some remarkably accurate maps - at the time - of China and surroundings. The first separate maps of China, printed by Europeans, appeared in the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Japan
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Historical e-atlas Japan

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Japan in 41 historical maps: 1507-2018 (128 pages). The official name of Japan is Nippon (or Nihon) meaning the “Land of the Rising Sun”. This name comes from Imperial correspondence with the Chinese Sui Dynasty and refers to Japan’s eastward position relative to China. The old Malay word for Japan, Jepang (modern spelling Jepun), was borrowed from a Chinese language. On the first separately printed map of Japan (Teixeira/Ortelius, 1595) the Latinized name Iaponia appeared. Various other names for Japan were used on earlier maps. On some 16th century (world) maps, based on Ptolemy’s ideas, the name Zipangri was used. The famous large wall map of Waldseemuller (1507) is one of the first world maps on which the island of Japan is clearly depicted. It appears at the upper right corner of the map.
Historical e-atlas France
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Historical e-atlas France

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France in 46 historical maps: 1375-2018 (138 pages). The name France refers to Land of the Franks. The name means “Land of the free People”. The name may also be derived from the word frankon (spear), one of the weapons used by its warriors. On earlier maps the Latin name Gallia (Land of the Celts) or Gaul (Land of Foreigners) was used; during the 17th century the name Francia came into use. In the oldest classical descriptions (e.g. Strabo, ca. 20BC) the name Celtica is used to identify the region covering present-day France. France was also described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. Its coastline is depicted more accurate on the Portolan charts of the late middle ages, when the Mediterranean region was a centre for navigation and trade. The first printed separate maps of France appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Italy
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Historical e-atlas Italy

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Italy in 49 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (144 pages). The name Italy (in Latin: Italia) can be traced back to ancient times for the peninsula, though it was initially designated for the region of the lower part of Southern Italy by Greek settlers. Most likely it is derived from the ancient word Viteliu, meaning “land of young cattle”. Italy had been a rich agricultural country since ancient times. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the Lombard invasions, Italia gradually became the collective name for various sovereign entities present on the peninsula. Italy was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. It is also depicted on the Portolan charts during the late middle ages, when the Mediterranean was a centre for navigation and trade. The first printed separate maps of Italy appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Scotland
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Historical e-atlas Scotland

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Scotland in 49 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (144 pages). The origin of the name Scotland is uncertain. Most likely it was introduced by the Greeks and Romans. It may be derived from the Greek word Scotos, a term applied to the Gaels (Celtic tribe). Or from the Latin word Sco(t)ti, which means “dark”, referring to the foggy climate. By the end of the 11th century the Late Latin word Scotia (land of the Scots) was being used to refer to (Gaelic-speaking) Scotland north of the river Forth. Caledonia is also an old Latin name for Scotland, referring tot the Caledonii tribes. It is possibly based on a Brythonic word for ���hard” or “tough” (represented by the modern Welsh caled). Being part of the British Isles, Scotland was already described by Ptolemy in his Geographia (150AD). The accompanying maps were worked out again by European cartographers at the end of the 15th century. The first (printed) separate maps of Scotland appeared in the 16th century.