Map making or “cartography”, grew from the need to explain a concept in visual form. It is thought that the oldest known maps were made of clay in Babylon around 2300BC.
The ancient Greeks accepted the concept of a round world with Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy) creating a world map covering latitudes of around 60°N to 30°S.
He is also credited with writing “Guide to Geography” (Geographike Hyphygesis) which was the “go to” book until the Renaissance.
Religion dominated map making in Medieval times, with Jerusalem placed in the centre with East, not North, at the top. A common format was a T and O map (orbis terrarum, orb or circle of the lands; with the letter T inside an O) where Jerusalem was depicted at the centre. These were also known as Beatine/Beatus map – thought to have been created by Beatus of Liebana (8C Spanish monk). and presented in the prologue to his commentaries on the Apocalypse. Maps in those times were hand drawn making availability limited.
Maps became more available with the invention of printing in the 15th century. At first they were printed with carved wooden blocks. Sebastian Münster, (Basel, Switzerland) created “Geographica” in 1540 which became the standard format for the time. Engraved copper plates were introduced in the 16th century. These were used until photography was invented and techniques refined.
With increased world exploration in 15th and 16th centuries came the need for navigational charts showing coast lines and other important information.
Following voyages by Columbus and others to the New World, “whole world” maps began to appear, with the first believed to have been created by Martin Waldseemüller in 1507. This map was the first to use the name America.