Arno Peters' map of the world was produced as he felt other maps portrayed more important countries to look even more important than they really were. The history of maps.The Arno Peters map of the world.
Man has produced maps for as long as he has walked the earth. Ancient cave drawings have revealed prehistoric man's attempts at mapping his environment by way of pictures depicting mountains, rivers and forests. Historians believe these pictures were early man's way of charting areas of food and water supplies.
It was the Ancient Greeks who made the first serious attempts at trying to chart the earth, and subsequent generations have followed suit ever since.
The first recognisable map, although grossly exaggerated and geographically incorrect, was produced by scholar Claudius Ptolemy in the 2nd century.His maps and updated variants of it continued in use for the next 1,000 years until in the 14th century, when man began to explore by travelling upon the seven seas, a foremost cartographer of the day, Martin Waldseemuller, created a map of the lands and seas by means of peeling the earth like an orange and laying the pieces flat.
This became a much more accurate image and heralded the use of the first globe.
it wasn't until 1538 that Flemish cartographer, Gerard Mercator introduced numbered, cylindrical, projection lines, from top to bottom and side to side, that an accurate image of what has become todays image of a map of the world, came into being.
These lines, called Mercators Lines, originally used to chart sea voyages and to segment the globe into north and south, east and west, have been used on maps ever since.
Today we use various methods for charting the world, from Martin Waldseemuller's globe to many differing types of flat map.
Polital maps that chart countries boundaries,physical maps that chart the earth's geographical features and digital maps that take real time photos of the planet from many miles up in space.
When we look at old maps today, we laugh when we see the odd images that the scholars of that day and age portayed, the elongated images of Africa and South America, the smaller expanses of North America, a large india an unusually shaped Australia and the ever present central core of a much smaller Europe.
Europe was used as the central image on a map after the International Meridian Conference of 1884 designated greenwich in london, England as the world's Prime Meridian for the world's time zones.
This along with Mercator's projection of the world, moved places on the map so that they fell under correct compass bearings, but in acheiving this, the lines of latitude were moved further apart, actually giving us a distorted view of the lay of the land
Waldseemuller's cylindrical projection and variants of it, portray countries at the Equator as fairly accurate, but seriously distort those nearer the poles, by way of squeezing the lines of latitiude closer together.
The compass bearings of North, South, East and West are portrayed correctly, but more intermediate points, such as north east or south west, can not be plotted by straight lines, so again are portrayed in a seriously distorted way.
The Aitoff projection, a more rounded grid sequence of map charting, the preffered shape used today to depict satelite images of the world, lose fidelity of the world's axis points, thus stretching the image of countries middleway on a map as being much wider than they actually are, resulting in a seriously distorted image of countries at the top and bottom of maps.
A map of the World, as we know it.
This was first noticed by German philosopher / historian / geographer, Arno Peters in 1952
When he looked at old maps of the world, which were charted in an age of innocence purely as a guide for mariners and navigators at sea, he began to wonder if these maps were perhaps more accurate than we have been led to believe.
He believed that we have been conditioned to accept what we have been told by a power better informed than ourselves, and therefore we accept the images we have been presented with.
We all know that the world, as a planet, is round, so to portray these curved images onto a flat image, seriously changes the shape of certain countries, showing a tiny india and china, two of the world's largest expanses, a squared off Australia and an extortionately large Europe and U.S.A.
Arno Peters view of the world.
With the advent of digital imagery in cartographics today, we should be seeing a much more clearly defined view of the earth's land masses, but still the projections look the same as they always have.
This is becouse, our satelite images are taken from many hundreds of pictures, which are then joined together to complete a whole image.
For many years, Peter's observations were just considered the ramblings of an excentric, but in recent years more and more people are becoming to believe, that Peter's assumptions of the world being portrayed so as to give greater importance to certain countries, is much more credible than we have been led to believe.
© D.B.Bellamy. April 2010.