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History of Cartography



History of Cartography
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.13

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    fact-that, Gerhardus, polynesian, circumference, coordinate, observation, latitude, navigation, estimate, all-water, mapmakers, mapmaking, measurement, grid, military, view
     content words:    Pacific Ocean, Pacific Islands, South Pacific, Middle East, Ancient Egyptians, Another Egyptian, Christopher Columbus, Prince Henry, Gerhardus Mercator, Mercator Projection


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History of Cartography
By Trista L. Pollard
  

1     Our view of the world has changed since 1500 years ago. The maps and globes we use today are very accurate. They show more details. You can see cities and countries. They show landforms and landmarks. Our maps now have a standard coordinate or grid system. This measurement system helps us to locate places on Earth. But what about the first maps? What are they like? How were they made? Let's take a journey into the history of cartography.
 
2     Cartography is the science of making maps. Today's cartographers use computers and cameras to help make maps. This is called remote sensing. Cameras are placed or mounted on airplanes. These cameras take pictures of the Earth's surface. Satellites in space are also used for cartography. Mapmakers in the past had much less technology. They used observation and stories from sailors to make maps.
 
3     Most early scientists believed the Earth was flat. Imagine sailing from your country and falling over a cliff! That's what people thought. They also thought Earth was a flat disc. The center of the disc was filled with people. The outer edges of the Earth were empty. A world map made as early as 500 B.C. showed a disc with two continents. These continents were Europe and Asia. Both were surrounded by an ocean. That makes sense! Most people only knew about their surrounding or immediate area. Geographers also found early maps of the Pacific Ocean. They were made by navigators from Polynesia or the Pacific Islands. These maps date back to 1500 B.C. The navigators used shells and the ribs of palm tree leaves. With these items, they mapped the currents and waves of the Pacific. Shells were used to mark islands they saw on their journey. The maps were 18 to 24-inch squares. Polynesian sailors used these maps as they sailed in the South Pacific.

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