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Theatre of Old Maps

My name is Ioannis Guertsonii. I grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist I went to study Physical Geography (BSc), Cartography (Masters) and Remote Sensing (Postgraduate). 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 Blogspot or LinkedIN profile for more information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomaps18/.

My name is Ioannis Guertsonii. I grew up near the birthplace of the famous cartographer Gerard Mercator. Inspired by this great scientist and artist I went to study Physical Geography (BSc), Cartography (Masters) and Remote Sensing (Postgraduate). 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 Blogspot or LinkedIN profile for more information: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tomaps18/.
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. Besides this world atlas, e-atlases of the 6 continents and separate e-atlases of more than 50 countries, distributed all over the world, are currently available. The provided e-atlases are not meant to replace the traditional printed atlases but are an addition and offer extra functionality (e.g. zooming in on geographic features). They can be downloaded as PDF-files; the files can be viewed using Acrobat Reader (version 10 or higher) and compatible applications. Each historical e-atlas is composed of 4 sections. The first 3 sections describe the history of cartography and map making techniques in general. In the 4th or major section (Country maps and their Makers) the history of a specific country is visualized via a range of maps from important mapmakers in different era’s. The document is made up of duo pages; the right page displays the map of a given period, the left page contains text describing its creator and other details. Each atlas also includes an Appendix which contains a selection of common Latin terms that are used on ancient maps. The historical e-atlases are suitable for reading and presentation purposes (in classrooms). The maps and their descriptions can be studied and printed at home or school. The main group of potential users are teachers and students in geography and history. Moreover, the atlases are useful to anyone who is interested in old maps of his/hers native or ancestors country. For more (background) information please refer to the author’s Blogspot: https://tomaps20.blogspot.com/
Historical e-atlas India
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Historical e-atlas India

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India in 48 historical maps: 1480-2018 (142 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.
Historical e-atlas China
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Historical e-atlas China

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China in 45 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 Malta
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Historical e-atlas Malta

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Malta in 37 historical maps: 1480-2018 (120 pages). The name Malta is either from Greek or Phoenician origin. The presence of the Greek dates back to 700BC when they called the island Melita, which refers to “(land of) honey”. The name was also used by the Romans during their domination of the island. The alternative Phoenician theory refers to the word Maleth, meaning “a haven”. The name Melita is used on the earliest maps, the name Malta on modern maps. On 17th century maps both names were often applied. The island already appears as a small (green) spot on regional maps of Ptolemy (c.150AD/c.1480). The first (printed) separate maps of Malta (in black & white) were published in the early 16th century. Numerous maps (on a larger scale) would follow during the 17th century, including the beautiful coloured maps of the Dutch Blaeu firm.
Historical e-atlas Scandinavia
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Historical e-atlas Scandinavia

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Norway, Sweden and Finland in 46 historical maps: 150AD-2018 (140 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”).
Historical e-atlas Portugal
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Historical e-atlas Portugal

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Portugal in 46 historical maps: 1480-2018 (138 pages). On ancient maps the Latin name Iberia was used to identify the Spanish peninsula (Spain and Portugal). It is derived from the Greek word Iberes, meaning “the Celtic people of Spain”. But it may also refer to the river Ebro in Spain. Most likely the name Portugal means “beautiful port”. The first part refers to the Latin word Portus. The second part may be derived from the Greek word kallis. Spain and Portugal 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 coastline was drawn in more detail on 14th century Portolan charts (nautical maps). The first separately printed map of Portugal appeared in the 16th century (about 1560).
Historical e-atlas Poland
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Historical e-atlas Poland

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Poland in 42 historical maps: 1513-2018 (130 pages). The name Poland means “Land of Polans”. It refers to an ancient tribe occupying the territory. Most likely it is derived from the Polish word pole, which means “(open) field”. When the Polans formed a united Poland (Polska) in the 10th century, this name also came into use for the whole Polish country. On Cresques famous map of Europe (Catalan atlas, 1375) the Latin name Polonia is used. During the next centuries this Latin name was mostly used by established cartographers such as Munster, Ortelius, Mercator and Blaeu. Munster’s map (ca. 1540) was one of the first separately printed maps of the country. The map was based on earlier work of Bernard Wapowski (ca. 1526), being the ‘father of Polish cartography’.
Historical e-atlas Switzerland
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Historical e-atlas Switzerland

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Switzerland in 44 historical maps: 1525-2018 (134 pages). The name Switzerland (Schweiz, Suisse) means Land of the Switzers (Swiss people). It refers to Schwyz, one of the founding cantons of the country. Its origin is uncertain: it may be derived from the Anglo-Saxon term swiþ- (meaning “strong”) or from the Germanic word swint- or Celtic word sveit- (“clearing”). The present name came into use on maps during the 17th century. On earlier maps the Latin name Helvetia was used. This name refers to the Celtic tribes which lived in the area, prior to the people who immigrated from Germany. The first separately printed maps of Helvetia appeared in the early 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Greenland
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Historical e-atlas Greenland

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Greenland in 42 historical maps: 1554-2018 (130 pages) The name of this largest island (country) was given by early Norse settlers. In the Icelandic sagas, the Norwegian-born Icelander Erik the Red was said to be exiled from Iceland for manslaughter. Along with his extended family and his serfs, he set out in ships to explore an icy land known to lie to the northwest. After finding a habitable area and settling there, he named it Grœnland (Greenland), supposedly in the hope that the pleasant name would attract settlers. The name of the country in the indigenous Greenlandic language is Kalaallit Nunaat (“Land of the Kalaallit”). The Kalaallit are the indigenous Greenlandic Inuit people who inhabit the country’s western region. The first separate maps of the island/country already appeared at the end of the 16th century. However, parts of its coastline (especially to the North) weren’t based on true observations but purely fictionally drawn. It would last until the end of the 19th century before the complete coastline was actually charted.
Historical e-atlas Luxemburg
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Historical e-atlas Luxemburg

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Luxemburg in 35 historical maps: 1571-2018 (116 pages). The name Luxemburg (French: Luxembourg) – for both the Country and its Capital City – comes from Celtic Lucilem (meaning “small” or “little”) and Germanic burg (meaning “castle”). Its origin goes back to 963, when Siegfried (of the House of Ardennes), the Abbot of St. Maximin at Trier, got the local castle into possession. From here the successive counts of Luxemburg extended their area. In the 16th/17th century, Luxemburg became a Principality of the Low Countries, and included the present Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the current Belgian province of Luxembourg and a number of neighbouring areas in France and Germany. The first separately printed maps of Luxemburg appeared at the end of the 16th century. Most of them were made by established cartographers from the Low Countries: e.g. Ortelius, Mercator and Blaeu.
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 (17 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 Austria
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Historical e-atlas Austria

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Austria in 41 historical maps: 1513-2018 (128 pages). Austria (German Österreich) means “Eastern March”. In Medieval times it was named in Latin: Marchia Orientalis. It is a former eastern prefecture of the Duchy of Bavaria, established in 976. The borders of Austria would change numerous times in the course of history, as shown on the maps in this atlas. In ca. 1560 the first separately printed map was published by the Hungarian cartographer Lazius. His map was used by famous cartographers, among them: Ortelius, Mercator and the Blaeu family.
Historical e-atlas Korea
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Historical e-atlas Korea

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North- and South-Korea in 31 historical maps: 1402-2018 (108 pages). Korea refers to Gaoli, Marco Polo’s Italian rendition of Gāo Lì, the Chinese name for Goryeo, which had named itself after the earlier Goguryeo. The original name was a combination of the adjective go (meaning "lofty“) and a local Yemaek tribe, whose original name is thought to have been either Guru (“walled city”) or Gauri (“centre”). After the Korean war the peninsula Korea was divided into North- and South-Korea. First from 1945 along the 38th parallel and since 1953, along the demarcation line. South Koreans call Korea Hanguk, from Samhan. North Koreans call it Chosŏn from Gojoseon. NOTE: Apart from the Ming map (1390) and Gangnido map (1402/1560), all maps included in this atlas are made by European and American cartographers and therefor do represent a Western view of both countries.
Historical e-atlas Spain
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Historical e-atlas Spain

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Spain in 49 historical maps: 43AD-2018 (144 pages). On ancient maps the Latin name Iberia is used to identify the Spanish peninsula (Spain and Portugal). It is derived from the Greek word Iberes, meaning “the Celtic people of Spain”. But it may also refer to the river Ebro in Spain. The name Spain (España) is derived from the Roman name Hispania. Most likely it refers to Spain lying at the end or western edge of the Mediterranean region. (In classical times this was the known world.) It may be evolved from the Iberian word Hispalis, meaning “city of the western world”. It may also be evolved from the Greek term Hesperia, reflecting the Greek perception of Italy as a “land of the setting sun” or “western land” and Spain, lying still further west, as Hesperia ultima. Spain and Portugal 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 coastline was drawn in more detail on 14th century Portolan charts (nautical maps). The first separately printed maps appeared in the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Denmark
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Historical e-atlas Denmark

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Denmark in 44 historical maps: 1480-2018 (134 pages). The name Denmark probably means “Flat Borderlands”. Most likely it is derived from the Proto-Indo-European word dhen (meaning “low” or “flat”) and the Old Norse words merki (“boundary”) or mork (“borderland”). Although out of shape, the country is clearly visible on the first maps based on Ptolemy’s descriptions (c.1480). It looks like an appendix North of Germany. On the famous overview map of Scandinavia, made by Olaus Magnus (1539), the border of Denmark is depicted more accurately. One of the first separate maps was included in Sebastian Munster’s encyclopaedia (1544). The first separately printed (hand-coloured) map, based on the work of the Danish Cartographer Marcus Jordan (1552), was published by Ortelius in 1570.
Historical e-atlas Greece
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Historical e-atlas Greece

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Greece in 47 historical maps: 20BC-2018 (140 pages). The name Greece means “Land of the Greeks”. The Latin name as introduced by the Romans is Graecia. Its origin is uncertain but it may be derived from the Proto-Greek word grauj (‘old age’) or the Proto-Indo-European word gere (‘to grow old’). The Greeks themselves called their country Hellas. This name refers to Hellen (son of Deucalion and Pyrrha), a figure found in ancient Greek mythology. Greece was already described by Ptolemy (ca. 150 AD) and other classical Greek and Roman scholars. The coastline and their numerous small islands were mapped more accurate on Portolan charts of the 14th and 15th century. The first separately printed maps appeared in the (early) 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Hungary
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Historical e-atlas Hungary

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Hungary in 44 historical maps: 1528-2018 (134 pages). The name Hungary means “Alliance of the ten tribes”. Byzantine chronicles gave this name to the Hungarians; the chroniclers mistakenly assumed that the Hungarians had Turkish origins, based on their Turkish-nomadic customs and appearance, despite the Uralic language of the people. The Hungarian tribes later actually formed an alliance of the 7 Hungarian and 3 Khazarian tribes, but the name is from before then, and first applied to the original seven Hungarian tribes. The ethnonym Hunni, referring to the Huns, has influenced the Latin (and English) spelling. The first separately printed map of Hungary (and surroundings) appeared in 1528. More detailed maps were included in the atlases of Ortelius and Mercator at the end of the 16th century.
Historical e-atlas Iceland
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Historical e-atlas Iceland

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Iceland in 42 historical maps: 1528-2018 (130 pages). Iceland means “Land of Ice”. The Old Norse name is Ísland. On early maps the Latin name Islandia is mostly used. Iceland is clearly depicted on the famous map of Scandinavia (1539) made by Olaus Magnus. The first separately printed map of the country appeared a few years later. The first full colour map was published by Ortelius in 1590. In the course of history numerous native cartographers turned up and produced a string of great maps of the country. E.g. Gudbrandur Thorlaksson (c.1590), Thordur Thorlaksson (1668), Eiriksson (1780), Gunnlaugsson (1849) and Thoroddsen (1900).
Historical e-atlas Turkey
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Historical e-atlas Turkey

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Turkey in 43 historical maps: 1480-2018 (132 pages). The name Turkey refers to Land of the Turks. The name for this ethnic group was first used by the ancient Greek and means “(strong) owner”. Turkey 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. Numerous separately printed maps of the country appeared in the following centuries. The western part of present-day Turkey was named Asia Minor (Little Asia) or (A)Natolia - meaning East or “sunrise” - on 16th and 17th century maps.
Historical e-atlas Surinam
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Historical e-atlas Surinam

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Surinam in 35 historical maps: 1522-2018 (116 pages) The name Surinam comes from Surinen people, the earliest known native American inhabitants of the region. From 1667 till 1975 the country was a colony of The Netherlands. It had been governed by the WIC (West Indies Company), the counterpart of the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company). On some antique maps the name Dutch Guyana is used to identify the colony/country and distinguish it from the neighbouring areas British Guyana (to the West) and French Guyana (to the East). Maps of the south-American region Guyana already appeared at the end of the 16th century. Separate (printed) maps of Surinam, mostly made by Dutch cartographers in service of the WIC, appeared in the early 18th century.