Maps are the fundamental medium of geography. The information they contain and their underlying cartographic concepts and techniques, register the development of human thought about the world. Maps are ubiquitous in past societies; they record innumerable aspects of cultural, scientific, economic, intellectual, political, and social activity. The historical study of maps is interdisciplinary, because maps are major parts of the discourse in a wide range of scientific, social scientific, and humanistic subjects. The history of cartography has matured to the point where it should survey itself, considering its weaknesses and strengths. This multi-volume reference work will provide the first world-wide history of maps and mapping from prehistory to the present that is truly representative of all major cultures and periods, but it will function as far more than a fundamental reference. The volumes will make major philosophical and methodological statements about the importance of maps in human history, and they will demonstrate the relevance of a proper history of cartography to a wide range of disciplines. The first volume, Cartography in Prehistoric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediterranean has been published. Scholars throughout the world are continuing work on subsequent volumes, (2) Cartography in the Traditional Asian Societies, (3) Cartography in the Age of Renaissance and Discovery, (4) Cartography in the Age of Science, Enlightenment, and Expansion, (5) Cartography in the Nineteenth Century, and (6) Cartography in the Twentieth Century. Contributors and consultants to the work involve an international group and hence the work embraces non-western cartographic traditions. This multi-volume history of cartography is important in the wider context of general knowledge. It also has a defined and significant niche within the history and philosophy of geographical thought, and it is a tool of interpretative evaluation for the many systematic branches of geography that employ maps as historical evidence. The History of Cartography provides the opportunity to document the history of maps as the visual language of geography, and it places cartographic interactions within the development of the discipline as a whole. The volumes also identify specific links between cartography and the other scientific and technological disciplines that have affected mapmaking and map development. The completed work will be the most comprehensive assessment of the field, and it will contribute knowledge to a large number of scientific fields on an international basis.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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James W. Harrington
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University of Wisconsin Madison
United States
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