An amazing book – Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

We live in a world and a time in which we can and often do see maps of the world that are incredibly accurate, and we know this because we have the technology to show us just how the world looks. In fact, thanks to concepts such as Google Earth, we can see much of the world close up in ways that our ancestors could never have dreamed about.

But of course, it hasn’t always been this way. Maps have changed dramatically over the centuries, and many maps reveal all sorts of information about history, culture, and the way people have perceived the world through the passing of time. And one amazing book has attempted to capture that in a way simply unrivalled by other books on cartography.

Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations by Vincent Virga and the Library of Congress is an absolute gem of a book for history lovers and map lovers the world over. It contains over 200 of the most stunning, interesting and most important maps from history, dating right back to ancient times. From ancient to modern world maps, to maps from different perspectives that challenged Western concepts of the world, to warfare maps, linguistic maps, political maps, to maps of even the Human Genome, there is enough in here to keep readers enthralled for hours.

Waldseemuller Map of the World from 1507 - the first to include the designation 'America'

The Library of Congress has the largest collection of maps in the world, with over five million maps in their possession, and they worked with Virga on this book to showcase not only some of these rare and unseen maps, but to help put together a book which shows the diversity of people and culture throughout history, and how humans and their ideas have changed and developed throughout time. To top it off, this book is displayed beautifully, in an oversized hardcover edition complete with four-colour reproductions throughout.

The woodcut "Montalboddo's Africa", one of Africa's first maps, from 1508

Whether you’re interested in history or not, I imagine it would be hard not to be blown away by this stunning and thought provoking book, which would make a great addition to any personal library.

4 thoughts on “An amazing book – Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations

  1. Oh, this sounds marvelous! I love maps & history and this sounds like it would fit everything I could want in a history book about maps. I will have to run out to the bookstore and look for it!

    While clearing out some things at my grandparents’ cottage that they purchased in the early ’40s, I came across an atlas that belonged to my grandfather. It must have been printed in the late 1800s, maybe early 1900s as there is no copyright date on it anywhere. The clues as to its age come from the maps of Canada and the way the original provinces and territories were laid out. Manitoba was still the ‘Postage Stamp’ from when it became a province in 1870. It is amazing to see our history laid out in such a manner and find places that no longer exist or have changed names over the last century and a half. It has certainly helped me visualize the time period.

    Did I mention, I love maps? 🙂

    • Wow, that atlas sounds amazing – what an awesome thing to find! I imagine you would really enjoy this Cartographia book from what you’ve said, it is definitely fascinating, more so if you love maps and history and that kind of thing! I know it’s quite cheap to order it online, too. 🙂

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