Primary sources from world and global history, including images, objects, texts, and digitally-born materials – annotations by scholars contextualize sources.
In 1947, Britain announced that it would terminate its mandate government in Palestine. As a result, a special committee formed by the United Nations was charged with partitioning the territory into separate, sovereign states. Although the plan called for Jewish and Arab states neatly divided by plotted lines, the reality, as these maps show, was much more contested.... Read More »
This 19th century map illustrating the many places one could travel on the Union Pacific Railway is the product of a multitude of choices made by the mapmaker. As a product for, and advertisement of, the Union Pacific Railroad, it obviously only depicts that one railway to the neglect of all of the others that were beginning to be built in the late 19th century.... Read More »
Unsatisfied by the distorted view of the world that dominated the Western mind in the form of the Mercator Projection, James Gall and, later, Arno Peters engineered a new map in the 19th and 20th centuries. Based on a mathematical formula that Gall first proposed in the 19th century, Peters projected an image of the world that attempted to capture the size of objects relative to each other.... Read More »
This ancient map depicts the known world as imagined by the Babylonians of the 6th century BCE. Like many ancient maps, this cuneiform tablet is concerned less with mathematically plotting space and direction than with simply capturing the various places and peoples in the world around Babylon.... Read More »
Before the modern age, maps offered more than just an objective, geographical survey. Often, as is the case with this world map from the 12th century, they also conveyed a set of stories that shaped the worldview of its viewers. This map, for instance, sought to convey allegorical, religious, and geographic information all at once.... Read More »
The Marshall Island stick charts represent a unique and non-Western tradition of mapmaking. Whereas Western maps generally attempt to capture and visualize distance and space, the charts of the Marshallese dwelt not just on general direction, with shells representing nearby islands, but, more importantly, ocean currents and swell movements.... Read More »
Maps are often designed to visualize more than just space and distance. This map, for instance, visualizes how poverty is distributed throughout the various Mexican states in hopes of identifying those areas most in need. The form of this map, or the artistic way in which the map is drawn, is meant to tell the story of how deeply the issue of poverty affects the people in each region.... Read More »