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Mapping world history

Porcelain, sealskin, powder-horn, buckskin, silk, and parchment: these are what history is made of. Celestial histories — subway, radio, or Internet histories. Histories found in stick charts and ordnance surveys. From the Paleolithic Period to digital age, maps have illustrated and recorded history and culture: detailing everything from wars and colonization, to religious and jingoistic worldviews, to the textures of the heavens and the earth. Illustrated in the slideshow below are just a few maps from The Oxford Map Companion by Patricia Seed, which present some of the diversity of cartography and map-making across the centuries and across the globe.



Patricia Seed is Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of several books including The Oxford Map Companion, American Pentimento: The Pursuit of Riches and the Invention of “Indians” (2001) and Ceremonies of Possession in Europe’s Conquest of the New World, 1492-1640 (1995). In recent years, Seed has been intensively involved in research on old and new questions in cartography. She bring her skills in the use of digital imaging technologies (GIS and graphic design software) to the study–not only to reformulate the questions of the history of map making–but to offer historical and comparative scholarship new tools of analysis and new ways of representing the knowledge that it produces.

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