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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

by Vincent Varga and The Library of Congress

By Mark Flanagan,

The Comet of 1742. The Greek Eudoxus recorded the various celestial circles and helped conventionalize the constellations depicted on this atlas page.

Cartographia is a magnificent, lavishly illustrated bound collection of more than two hundred maps from around the world and throughout time. The maps within chart all manner of terrain - symbolic, spiritual, political, and physical. Mainly through pictorial content but also through accompanying text, Cartographia explores the world, its history, and its culture via the map. Some of my favorites:
· A 1906 climatological map illustrating how rainfall in India determined a pattern of settlement that split the country into strong regional identities.

· An isometric map of Tokyo's Ginza district (c.1987) that uses multiple points of view to vividly evoke the viewer's sense of place.

· A Chinese map from 1329 in which North is located in the bottom right-hand corner and geographical information is expressed mathematically upon a grid.


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