History of maps: The era of exploration and discovery

The era of exploration and discovery

Dear Mappers,

After our visit to the middle age we land to a new age of exploration and discovery.
The race for the colonization of new part of the world had already began and with it came the need of accurate mapmaking. This was fulfilled due to the progress in technologies such as navigation, ship construction, observation instruments and the introduction and use of the compass. The most important aspect of post-medieval maps was their accuracy. Another significant step was the evolution of printing.

New parts of the world

The great discoveries of Columbus, da Gama, Vespucci, Cabot, Magellan and other explorers transformed the world maps of those days. The map making of that age emphasized on the coastal cartography and the new inland regions discovered during these times. The Spanish sailor and cartographer Juan de la Cosa created the first cartographic representations of the Americas.

Map of Juan de la Cosa

The main centers of cartographic activity were spread in Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Rhineland, the Netherlands and Switzerland. At the other hand England and France, with their growing maritime and colonial power, were soon to become primary map and chart centers.

Gerardus Mercator and the double Hemisphere World map

But the foremost cartographer of the age of discovery was Gerardus Mercator. The development of the Mercator projection solved an enormous problem of navigators, enabling them to plot bearings as straight lines. This was the first attempt to represent the round earth on a flat surface. Phasing a lot of problems during his attempt such as the representation of latitude and longitude. He created the Mercator projection, which made easier for navigators to chart a course and created a new path full of options for the mapmakers.

Hope you enjoyed this week blog post and got inspired from all those great explorers and map makers.

Greetings! 😃

Your WEU Community Team
Kleoniki, Paolo, Francesco, Elena, Arturs, Alicja, Belén, Solène, Pierre-Yves Ben, Claire, Pedro, Georg and Eric 


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