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The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps by Peter Whitfield

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The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps by Peter Whitfield

pp. viii, 144. profusely illustrated in b&w & colour. index. wrs. [London]: The British Library, [2010].

Second Edition.


ISBN-10: 0712350896 / ISBN-13: 9780712350891

For over two thousand years people have drawn maps to help them define the world they inhabit. Each mapmaker's perception of his or her world has been influenced by the religious, political, social or economic climate in which he or she lived. Early Christian maps placed Jerusalem at the centre of the world, or divided the land into three continents given to Noah's sons. Later mapmakers such as Pierre Desceliers in 1550 stressed the importance of trade routes and colonies in the New World while still including descriptions of legends such as Prester John in Africa. In our own age images created by computer modelling have shown us a new view of the world.
From the classical Greek origins of the world map, through the elaborately decorated manuscript maps and printed map of the 17th and 18th centuries which are works of art in themselves, to scientific maps showing the ocean floor, Peter Whitfield examines the history of world mapmaking through 70 outstanding individual examples, discussing each map, and its maker in relation to their age and placing them within the context of the wider history of ideas.