Source: Josh Marshall, Artifacts #1: The First Map of Africa, talkingpointsmemo.com, March 7, 2014, http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/artifacts-1-the-first-map-of-africa.
Mr. Marshall notes that the map below is believed to be the first map of Africa, as a continent. “Africa” was originally a Roman term for the region of modern Tunisia and the western portion of Libya. The Arabs later adopted a similar definition. But this is the first known map of the new concept of Africa as a continent stretching from North Africa down to a southern tip that could be rounded and from which you could then sail on to India and Asia.
Princeton University, Historic Maps Collection.
The map is the work of Sebastian Munster (1489-1552), a professor of Hebrew at the University of Basel. This is mid-16th century, so going on 60 years after Europeans first rounded the Cape of Good Hope to Asia, though the Portuguese had been exploring the western coast of Africa a good deal longer.
Mr. Marshall continues by saying that this map is a fascinating period in the history of European map-making since most were then being strung together through an odd partnership between university academics and printers in Europe on the one hand and explorers and traders on the other, the former still partly hung up on ancient ideas on the shape and outlines of the world as well as theories about where certain things must be and the latter with real observational data about what they’d seen.
Not surprisingly, North Africa is fairly accurate and the key rivers in West Africa bear at least some resemblance to their true locations. Things get a good deal iffier about Central Africa and the scale of Subsaharan Africa. And there’s a pretty serious Ethiopia fail. It’s right over the one-eyed giants who live in Nigeria. When you consider the limited observational knowledge, extremely poor ability to measure distance, obstacles to communications and the fact that the key sea-faring powers treated all this information as state secrets, the degree of accuracy is fairly remarkable.
In viewing the map below, Mr. Marshall notes that still more remarkable is this Abraham Ortelius map from only 30 years later. Published at Antwerp in 1584.
Princeton University. Historic Maps Collection.
As you can see, on a quick look this could almost be a modern map of Africa, though many things are distorted, not least the scale of the Red Sea relative to the rest of the continent.
Mapping time has long been an interest of cartographers. Visualizing historical events in a timeline or chart or diagram is an effective way to show the rise and fall of empires and states, religious history, and important human and natural occurrences. To see more interesting maps ranging in date from 1770 to 1967, visit over 100 examples in the Rumsey Map Collection.
As many of you know, I love historical maps. In particular ones that tell the story of a significant point in history. Below are snippets of the “Map Showing the Overland and Overseas Flights of Charles A. Lindbergh” in color. It was designed by Ernest Clegg and published by the John Day Company, New York in 1928. With informational boxes describing various flights. In carved wood frame.
A narrative of Lindbergh’s flight follows the images of the map in this blog entry.
I hope you find this as interesting as I do.
7:52 A.M., May 20, 1927
At 7:52 A.M., May 20, 1927 Charles Lindbergh gunned the engine of the “Spirit of St Louis” and aimed her down the dirt runway of Roosevelt Field, Long Island. Heavily laden with fuel, the plane bounced down the muddy field, gradually became airborne and barely cleared the telephone wires at the field’s edge. The crowd of 500 thought they had witnessed a miracle. Thirty-three and one half-hours and 3,500 miles later he landed in Paris, the first to fly the Atlantic alone.
Working as a mail pilot a year earlier he heard of the $25,000 prize for the first flight between New York and Paris. Backed by a group of St. Louis businessmen, Lindbergh supervised the building of his special plane and set out after the prize. Other teams were attempting the feat – some had met disaster. Lindbergh equipped himself with four sandwiches, two canteens of water and 451 gallons of gas. Midway through the flight “sleet began to cling to the plane. That worried me a great deal and I debated whether I should keep on or go back. I decided I must not think any more about going back.”
On the evening of May 21, he crossed the coast of France, followed the Seine River to Paris and touched down at Le Bourget Field at 10:22P.M. The waiting crowd of 100,000 rushed the plane. “I saw there was danger of killing people with my propeller and I quickly came to a stop.” He became an instant hero, “the Lone Eagle.” New York City gave him the largest ticker tape parade ever, the president awarded him the Distinguished Flying Cross. His feat electrified the nation and inspired enthusiastic interest in aviation.
Bad weather and the prospect that his transatlantic flight would be delayed for a number of days greeted Lindbergh upon his arrival in New York. However, on May 19th, a favorable weather report predicted a break in the rain prompting Lindbergh to make his attempt the next day. He arrived at the airfield before dawn the next morning, prepared his plane for flight and began his historic journey:
“About 7:40 A.M. the motor was started and at 7:52 I took off on the flight for Paris. The field was a little soft due to the rain during the night and the heavily loaded plane gathered speed very slowly. After passing the halfway mark, however, it was apparent that I would be able to clear the obstructions at the end. I passed over a tractor by about fifteen feet and a telephone line by about twenty, with a fair reserve of flying speed. I believe that the ship would have taken off from a hard field with at least five hundred pounds more weight. I turned slightly to the right to avoid some high trees on a hill directly ahead, but by the time I had gone a few hundred yards I had sufficient altitude to clear all obstructions and throttled the engine down to 1750 R.P.M. I took up a compass course at once and soon reached Long Island Sound where the Curtiss Oriole with its photographer, which had been escorting me, turned back.“
Lindbergh continued his flight over Cape Cod and Nova Scotia and headed for the open Atlantic as darkness fell:
“Darkness set in about 8:15 and a thin, low fog formed over the sea through which the white bergs showed up with surprising clearness. This fog became thicker and increased in height until within two hours I was just skimming the top of storm clouds at about ten thousand feet. Even at this altitude there was a thick haze through which only the stars directly overhead could be seen. There was no moon and it was very dark. The tops of some of the storm clouds were several thousand feet above me and at one time, when I attempted to fly through one of the larger clouds, sleet started to collect on the plane and I was forced to turn around and get back into clear air immediately and then fly around any clouds which I could not get over.”
Lindbergh continued his course, at times skimming only 10 feet above the waves as he tried to find a way around the fog and maintain his course. The appearance of fishing boats below alerted him that he was nearing land:
“The first indication of my approach to the European Coast was a small fishing boat which I first noticed a few miles ahead and slightly to the south of my course. There were several of these fishing boats grouped within a few miles of each other.
I flew over the first boat without seeing any signs of life. As I circled over the second, however, a man’s face appeared, looking out of the cabin window.
I have carried on short conversations with people on the ground by flying low with throttled engine, and shouting a question, and receiving the answer by some signal. When I saw this fisherman I decided to try to get him to point towards land. I had no sooner made the decision than the futility of the effort became apparent. In all likelihood he could not speak English, and even if he could he would undoubtedly be far too astounded to answer. However, I circled again and closing the throttle as the plane passed within a few feet of the boat I shouted, “Which way is Ireland?” Of course the attempt was useless, and I continued on my course.
Less than an hour later a rugged and semi-mountainous coastline appeared to the northeast. I was flying less than two hundred feet from the water when I sighted it. The shore was fairly distinct and not over ten or fifteen miles away. A light haze coupled with numerous storm areas had prevented my seeing it from a long distance.
The coastline came down from the north and curved towards the east. I had very little doubt that it was the southwestern end of Ireland, but in order to make sure I changed my course towards the nearest point of land.
I located Cape Valencia and Dingle Bay, then resumed my compass course towards Paris.
Lindbergh flew over Ireland and then England at an altitude of about 1500 feet as he headed towards France. The weather cleared and flying conditions became almost perfect. The coast of France and the City of Cherbourg passed beneath his wings as darkness fell a second time during his flight.
“The sun went down shortly after passing Cherbourg and soon the beacons along the Paris-London airway became visible.
I first saw the lights of Paris a little before 10 P.M., or 5 P.M., New York time, and a few minutes later I was circling the Eiffel Tower at an attitude of about four thousand feet.
The lights of Le Bourget were plainly visible, but appeared to be very close to Paris. I had understood that the field was farther from the city, so continued out to the northeast into the country for four or five miles to make sure that there was not another field farther out which might be Le Bourget. Then I returned and spiralled (sic) down closer to the lights. Presently I could make out long lines of hangars, and the roads appeared to be jammed with cars.
I flew low over the field once, then circled around into the wind and landed.
But suddenly, a hysterical, ecstatic crowd broke through the restraining ropes and stampeded toward him, cheering and shouting. As he opened the door, he was lifted down and hoisted onto the shoulders of the police, who carried him through the surging crowd, cries of “Vive” ringing through the night. He had conquered the Atlantic alone, covering 3,610 miles in 33 1/2 hours. He had won the Orteig prize!
From the balcony of the American Embassy the following morning, he responded briefly and modestly to the persistent calls of the great crowd which had gathered. For hours after he retreated back inside, they shouted, clapped, and waved their hats and handkerchiefs. In the days that followed, his fame as a hero grew to unbelievable proportions as he took Europe by storm. The President of France pinned the Legion of Honor upon the lapel of his borrowed suit and thousands of messages poured in upon him.
It was as if everyone saw in him something that they sought in themselves – a spirit of adventure and achievement in life. Somehow he represented the symbol of hope in a weary world, for there was something unique about his integrity, courage, and indifference to honors. “He had started with no purpose but to arrive. He remained with no desire but to serve. He sought nothing, he was offered all.”
When he came home to America aboard the USS Memphis, a majestic convoy of warships and aircraft escorted him up the Chesapeake and Potomac to Washington. President Coolidge welcomed him home and bestowed the Distinguished Flying Cross upon him. His New York reception was the wildest in the city’s history as 4 million people lined the parade route and Mayor Jimmy Walker pinned New York’s Medal of Valor upon him. Finally, when it was all over, he turned and flew to St. Louis for a rest and to contemplate. His epic flight would become the one singular event which electrified the world and changed the whole course of history.
It was now that the Daniel Guggenheim Fund sponsored him on a three month nation-wide tour. Flying the “Spirit of St. Louis,” he touched down in 49 states, visited 92 cities, gave 147 speeches, and rode 1,290 miles in parades. Tired, but satisfied with the job he had done in promoting aviation, he returned to New York. He made a good will tour at the request of Ambassador Dwight Morrow. It was here that he first met Anne Morrow, daughter of the Ambassador, a meeting that would blossom into romance. After Mexico, he visited twelve other Central American and West Indies countries, conveying goodwill all along the 9,000 mile flight tour.
On March 21,1929, President Coolidge presented him with the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. Throughout the rest of his life he would continue to serve America as an advisor on aviation. He resigned his commission as a Colonel in the reserves an April 29, 1941, but he served in the Pacific theater during World War II as a technical advisor. He taught American fighter pilots how to get increased range from their planes – as much as fifty percent more. He flew several combat missions in P-38 fighters and on at least one sortie shot down a Japanese plane. After the war, he continued to serve his country in many ways and on April 7, 1954, he was appointed a Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserves.
Certification of Charles Lindbergh’s flight required several documents to prove the performance
The certification of Charles Lindbergh’s flight required several documents to prove the performance. A sealed barograph, an instrument working with atmospheric pressure, was loaded on the aircraft; its six-hour cylinder recorded the altitudes flown and proved that the flight was uninterrupted. The start of the flight was attested by the US National Aeronautic Association and the Procès-verbal established by the Aéro-Club de France on Lindbergh’s arrival attested that the barograph was found sealed and reported that 322 litres of gas (85 gallons) remained in the sealed tanks. This Procès-verbal was signed by no less than 13 French officials, the US Ambassador Myron Herrick, the Belgian Air Attaché Willy Coppens and, of course Charles Lindbergh himself. Finally, the FAI General Secretary Paul Tissandier informed the National Aeronautic Association on August 31st, 1927, that Lindbergh’s flight was certified as the Class-C World Record for non-stop flight over a distance of 5809 kilometres”.
 The Spirit of St. Louis 2 Project, The Flight, http://www.charleslindbergh.com/history/paris.asp.
 “Lindbergh Flies the Atlantic, 1927,” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (1999).
Maps, charts and infographics can really help bring data and information to life. Maps can make a point resonate with readers. This collection of maps aims to do just that.
Hopefully some of these maps will surprise you and you’ll learn something new. A few are important to know, some interpret and display data in a beautiful or creative way, and a few may even make you chuckle or shake your head.
1. Where Google Street View is Available
2. Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System
3. The Only 22 Countries in the World Britain Has Not Invaded (not shown: Sao Tome and Principe)
4. Map of ‘Pangea’ with Current International Borders
Pangea was a supercontinent that existed during the late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic eras, forming about 300 million years ago. It began to break apart around 200 million years ago. The single global ocean which surrounded Pangaea is accordingly named Panthalassa.
5. McDonald’s Across the World
6. Paid Maternal Leave Around the World
7. The Most Common Surnames in Europe by Country
8. Worldwide Driving Orientation by Country
9. Map of Time Zones in Antarctica
10. The World’s Busiest Air Routes in 2012
11. Visualizing Global Population Density
12. Flag Map of the World
13. Map of Alcohol Consumption Around the World
14. Map of Alcoholic Drink Popularity by Country
15. Map of Rivers in the Contiguous United States
16. US Map of the Highest Paid Public Employees by State
17. World Map of Earthquakes Since 1898
18. Map of Where 29,000 Rubber Duckies Made Landfall After Falling off a Cargo Ship in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean
19. Map of Countries with the Most Violations of Bribery
20. World Map of Vegetation on Earth
21. Average Age of First Sexual Intercourse by Country
22. If the World’s Population Lived in One City
23. The Number of Researchers per Million Inhabitants Around the World
24. Worldwide Map of Oil Import And Export Flows
25. The 7000 Rivers that Feed into the Mississippi River
Neil Freeman posted an interesting question on his blog, Fake is the New Real: What would the United States look like if each state were equal in population?
Freeman, an artist and urban planner, has redrawn the map of the United States to show what it would look like if the same number of people occupied each state. Freeman’s “United States redrawn as Fifty States with Equal Population” takes a radically simple stab at Electoral College reform, preserving its structure and function while simultaneously ending the overrepresentation of small states and underrepresentation of large states in presidential voting by eliminating small and large states altogether.
Using data from the 2010 U.S. Census, Freeman says his map’s redrawn boundaries “more closely follow economic patterns, since many states are more centered on one or two metro areas.” It also would end varying representation by population in the U.S. House.
“Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000,” Freeman writes. “After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size.”
Each state in Freeman’s redrawn America has a population of roughly 6,175,000.
Many state capitals were maintained in Freeman’s configuration; otherwise, large or central cities were chosen. Suggested names of the new states, he adds, were taken mainly from geographical features, including mountain ranges (Adirondack, Blue Ridge, Ozark), peaks (Mammoth), rivers (Susquehanna), lakes (Salt Lake), plants (Yerba Buena) and even caves (Shiprock).
For those interested in Freeman’s methodology, he explains:
The map began with an algorithm that grouped counties based on proximity, urban area, and commuting patterns. The algorithm was seeded with the fifty largest cities. After that, manual changes took into account compact shapes, equal populations, metro areas divided by state lines, and drainage basins. In certain areas, divisions are based on census tract lines. The District of Columbia is included into the state of Washington, with the Mall, major monuments and Federal buildings set off as the seat of the federal government.
The map, published in 2012, has received renewed interest in the wake of northern Colorado’s upcoming vote to secede from the rest of the state. “Keep in mind that this is an art project, not a serious proposal,” Freeman added. “So take it easy with the emails about the sacred soil of Texas.”
Advantages of this proposal
- Preserves the historic structure and function of the Electoral College.
- Ends the over-representation of small states and under-representation of large states in presidential voting and in the US Senate by eliminating small and large states.
- Political boundaries more closely follow economic patterns, since many states are more centered on one or two metro areas.
- Ends varying representation in the House. Currently, the population of House districts ranges from 528,000 to 924,000. After this reform, every House seat would represent districts of the same size. (Since the current size of the House isn’t divisible by 50, the numbers of seats should be increased to 450 or 500.)
- States could be redistricted after each census – just like House seats are distributed now.
- Some county names are duplicated in new states.
- Some local governments would experience a shift in state laws and procedures.
One of my favorite (and most interesting) people I follow on Twitter is Maria Popova. Ms. Popova is the brain child of Brain Pickings. She is a self-described “interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large,” who also writes for Wired UK and The Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.
Ms. Popova describes Brain Pickings as follows.
Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.
Because creativity, after all, is a combinatorial force. It’s our ability to tap into the mental pool of resources — ideas, insights, knowledge, inspiration — that we’ve accumulated over the years just by being present and alive and awake to the world, and to combine them in extraordinary new ways. In order for us to truly create and contribute to culture, we have to be able to connect countless dots, to cross-pollinate ideas from a wealth of disciplines, to combine and recombine these ideas and build new ideas — like LEGOs. The more of these building blocks we have, and the more diverse their shapes and colors, the more interesting our creations will become.
Human Cartography: Maps That Define the Mind [SOURCE]
The Kingdom of Wisdom, the Isle of Knowledge, and other whimsical geographic representations of the human condition
I love maps. There’s something about cartography that lends itself to visualizing much more than land and geography. I have previously blogged about Charles Minard’s map of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign of 1812, Henry Beck’s map of the London Underground, and John Snow’s map of the 1854 Cholera epidemic in London.
- GABIET DER JUGEND = Land of Youth (Forest of Love, Kiss Field, Flirting Game, Charm Castle, Stream of Wishes, Worry-Free, Joy’s Home, Beautiful House, Source of Joy, Sweet Look, Wisecrack Place, Rich River, Warning Castle)
- GABIET DER RUHE = Land of Rest (Nightcap, Grandfather City, Equanimity, Manly Place)
- GABIET DER TRAURENDEN LIEBE = Land of Mourning Love (Anger’s Home, Flood of Tears, Whim Mountain, Complaint Place, Hopeless Mountains, Loathing, Strict Place, Swamp of Profanity, Desert of Melancholy)
- GABIET DER LUSTE = Land of Lust (Illness Valley, Weak Home, Intoxication Field, Lechery, Hospital)
- GABIET DER GLUCKLICHEN LIEBE = Land of Happy Love (Lust Wood, Answered Prayers, Pleasant View, Enjoyment, Tenderness, Good Times, Affection Farm, Satisfaction, Compliance Mountain, Fountain of Joy, Marriage Harbor, Reward City, Peace of Mind, Bliss Town)
- GABIET DER HAGESTOLZE = Bachelor Country (Stupidity Town, Rejection Place, Irritation, Indifference, Place of Contempt, Reprehensibility, Old Age Mountains, Separation, Hat, Obstinacy, Wrangler Hall, Exasperation Heath, Hamlet of Death, Sea of Doubt)
- GABIET DER FIXEN IDEEN = Land of Obsessions (Place of Sighs, Desire Town, Unrest, City of Dreams, Bridge of Hope, Disloyalty, Sweet River of Tears, Little Town of Instincts)
Many of these maps can be found in these seven must-read books on maps, particularly in the excellent You Are Here: Personal Geographies and Other Maps of the Imagination–a treasure trove of imaginary and imaginative cartographic explorations of self-conception.
I encourage you to visit Maria’s Brain Pickings site or follow her on Twitter. A tasty treat awaits you.
This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Images: Courtesy of Brain Pickings