Hero image

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. For more information visit my official website: t-o-maps.com.

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. For more information visit my official website: t-o-maps.com.
History of cartography; how and why maps are made (150AD-2018)

History of cartography; how and why maps are made (150AD-2018)

History of cartography; how and why maps are made (150AD-2018) 122 pages. The offered resource contains a comprehensive insight in the history of cartography and how and why maps are/were made. Furthermore, 40 carefully selected world maps plus a description of their makers are included. They show how the world has changed through time and how map making techniques have evolved. The downloadable product is available in PDF format. It can be directly used by teachers for presentation in their classroom. A hand-out can be printed and distributed among the pupils. It’s suitable for 14+ aged pupils and fits into the subjects of Geography and History.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Scandinavia

Historical e-Atlas Scandinavia

Norway, Sweden & Finland in 39 historical maps: 1321-2010 (122 pages) In the 17th century the Latin name Scandinavia appeared on maps identifying the most northern part of western Europe (Norway, Sweden and Finland). It is derived from the Proto-Germanic word skadinaujo. The second part of the word refers to the waters surrounding the region. Parts of Scandinavia were 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 separately printed maps appeared in the early 16th century. The name Norway, or its native name Norge, means the “Northern Way”. It refers to the long coastal passages from the western tip of Norway to its northernmost lands in the Arctic. The name Sweden (or Svitjod in Old Norse) means “One’s own people”. The name Finland means “Land of the Finns”. The origin of the word Finn is uncertain: it may be derived from the Proto-Germanic finne (meaning “wanderers” or “hunting-folk”).
tomaps17
Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made

Remote Sensing: how satellite images are made

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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas United States

Historical e-Atlas United States

United States in 43 historical maps: 1507-2010 (130 pages). The United States of America (USA) are named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. The name America was introduced by the German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller. The name appeared for the first time on his famous world map published in 1507. The printed wall map was lost for a long time; the only survived copy was found in Schloss Wolfegg, in southern Germany in 1901. The map, also called the “birth-certificate of America”, was purchased by the Library of Congress in 2003. The Eastern coastline of (Northern) America was drawn much more accurate on the world map of Ribero in 1527. The first separately printed map of the new continent (the Americas) was included in Sebastian Munster’s encyclopedia (1540 onwards). The first separate maps covering the area of present day United States appeared at the end of the 17th century. The name United States of America was introduced after their independence from the UK in 1776.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas England

Historical e-Atlas England

England in 34 historical maps: 1480-2010 (112 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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Brazil

Historical e-Atlas Brazil

Brazil in 42 historical maps: 1502-2010 (128 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).
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Italy

Historical e-Atlas Italy

Italy in 43 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (130 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. The city of Rome was most likely founded in 752 BC. It was once the capital of the Roman Empire (27BC - 476AD) and is now both the capital of Italy and the seat of the RC church.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas India

Historical e-Atlas India

India in 40 historical maps: 1467-2010 (124 pages). The name India is referring to the Indus river (or Sindhu) and has been in use in Greek since Herodotus (4th century BC). An alternative name is Hindustan. In the 19th century, the term as was only used to identify the northern part of present-day India. India was already described by Ptolemy in about 150AD. The accompanying maps were worked out at the end of the 15th century by European cartographers. The size and shape are not very accurate on these maps. The island of present-day Sri Lanka is relatively large and positioned at the south-west side. From 1502 onwards (Cantino map and later) India is finally depicted by its characteristic V-shape, due to new chartings by Portuguese explorers.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Netherlands & Belgium

Historical e-Atlas Netherlands & Belgium

Netherlands and Belgium in 37 historical maps: 1480-2010 (118 pages). The general name Low Countries is often used for the region covering both The Netherlands and Belgium. The name Netherlands (Dutch: Nederland ) is used for the northern country. It means “low lying lands”. The name Holland (Latin: Hollandia), covering the provinces Noord- and Zuid-Holland, is sometimes used to identify the whole country. It is probably derived from the Germanic word holt-land (“wooded land”) or it may refer to “hollow” or “marsh land”. The name Belgium, for the southern country, came into use after their independence from the United Netherlands in 1830. The name refers to “Land of the Belgae”, a Celtic tribe in he Roman province of Gallia Belgica (Belgic Gaul). The name’s origin is uncertain, but it may be derived from the Proto-Indo-European word bhelgh-, meaning “to bulge” or “to swell”. An alternative theory suggests that it means “bright”. On early maps, the name for the province of Flanders (Latin: Flandria) was also used to identify the whole country. The first printed separate maps of the Low Countries appeared in the midst of the 16th century. In the following period the Latin name Germania Inferior was often used to identify this region, e.g. in Ortelius famous world atlas (1570).
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas China

Historical e-Atlas China

China in 41 historical maps: 1137-2010 (126 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 Martin 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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Australia

Historical e-Atlas Australia

Australia in 36 historical maps: 1547-2010 (116 pages). The name Australia is adapted from the Latin name Terra Australis Incognita, meaning the “Unknown Southern Land”. The name was used on 16th century world maps, e.g. the ones of Mercator and Ortelius, to identify a large imaginary landmass stretching around the south pole. The present day country and continent became officially known as Australia in 1824, after the British explorer Matthew Flinders had circumnavigated the island 20 years earlier and introduced the name in his charts and publications. Before this, the Latin name Hollandia Nova (New Holland) was mostly used to identify present day Australia. The name was introduced by Dutch explorers who had discovered the West coast in the early 17th century. It appeared - for the first time - on the large world map of the Blaeu firm in 1648, and later in their printed Atlas Maior from 1662 onwards.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Cuba et al. Caribbean islands

Historical e-Atlas Cuba et al. Caribbean islands

Cuba et al. Caribbean islands in 40 historical maps: 1502-2010 (124 pages). The origin of the name Cuba is uncertain. Most likely it is means Taino cubao (“abundant fertile land” or Coabana (“great place”). On early maps of Cuba and other Caribbean islands they were called the West Indies by European cartographers. This in contrast to the East Indies of present-day SE Asia. The region appeared for the first time on the manuscript map of Juan de la Cosa (1500), who had sailed to the West together with Columbus, and the Cantino world map (1502). On the map of Ribero (1529) the coastlines are depicted remarkably accurate. The first separately printed maps were published at the end of the 16th century.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Ireland

Historical e-Atlas Ireland

Ireland in 43 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (130 pages). The name Ireland is derived from the Celtic word Eire, meaning “the fertile place”. On ancient (world) maps the Latin name Hibernia or Ibernia (later Irlandia) was used, which refers to the wintry or cold climate of this remote place. Ireland 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. Being part of the British Isles, Ireland is also depicted on the Mappa Mundi in medieval times. The coastline was drawn in more detail on 15th century Portolan charts (nautical maps). The first (printed) separate maps of Ireland appeared in the 16th century.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas South-Africa

Historical e-Atlas South-Africa

South-Africa in 38 historical maps: 1490-2010 (120 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. Waldseemuller’s large map of 1507 - being partly based on Ptolemy’s ideas and new discoveries - 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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas United Kingdom

Historical e-Atlas United Kingdom

United Kingdom in 44 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (132 pages). The UK is a self-descriptive short-form name for “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland”. * The name Great Britain or Larger Britain, from Mediaeval Latin Britannia Maior, was first recorded by Geoffrey of Monmouth, who used it to distinguish the island from Britannia Minor (Little Britain) or Brittany in modern France. The name Britain (or Latin name Britannia) most likely originates - via French or Welsh (Prydain) - from pretani, meaning the “painted ones”. It refers to the use of body-paint and tattoos by early inhabitants of the islands. It may also be derived from the Celtic goddess Brigid. The British Isles were 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 in the 16th century. *Before the independence of Ireland in 1916, the UK comprised present-day England (plus Wales), Scotland, Northern-Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The term British Isles is still used to identify these 5 entities.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Argentina & Chile

Historical e-Atlas Argentina & Chile

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).
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Indonesia & Philippines

Historical e-Atlas Indonesia & Philippines

Indonesia and the Philippines in 37 historical maps: 1522-2010 (118 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.* 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). *The name India is referring to the Indus River (or Sindhu)
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Mexico

Historical e-Atlas Mexico

Mexico in 36 historical maps: 1527-2010 (116 pages). The origin of the name Mexico (Mexihca) is uncertain. Most likely it means “navel of the moon”, based on Nahuatl metztli (moon) and xictli (navel).* It may also be derived from Mexihco, the name of the ancient Aztec capital, given by the Spanish colonists. At the end of the 16th century and early 17th century the name Mexico was also used on maps to identify large parts of present day United States. The Latin name Nova Hispania (New Spain) was used for a smaller region centred around the present-day capital Mexico City. On the world map of Ribero (1527) the eastern coastline of present-day Mexico is depicted remarkably accurate. On the atlas maps made by the Dieppe school (1547) the western coastline is also shown. One of the first separately engraved maps of Mexico was made by Italian cartographers in 1561. Numerous copies of other European cartographers would follow. *Nahuatl is a language spoken by the native inhabitants of Mexico
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Egypt

Historical e-Atlas Egypt

Egypt in 36 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (116 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)". The first separate map 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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas Israel

Historical e-Atlas Israel

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 its capital 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.
tomaps17
Historical e-Atlas France

Historical e-Atlas France

France in 43 historical maps: 150AD-2010 (130 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.
tomaps17