A Web Site That Lets You Find Your Home Address on Pangea

A cool tool. Soft­ware engi­neer Ian Web­ster has cre­at­ed a web­site that lets you see how the land mass­es on plan­et Earth have changed over the course of 750 mil­lion years. And it has the added bonus of let­ting you plot mod­ern address­es on these ancient land for­ma­tions. Ergo, you can see where your home was locat­ed on the Big Blue Mar­ble some 20, 100, 500, or 750 mil­lion years ago. Web­ster’s project (access it here) is open source. Have fun.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Map Show­ing Where Today’s Coun­tries Would Be Locat­ed on Pangea

A Bil­lion Years of Tec­ton­ic-Plate Move­ment in 40 Sec­onds: A Quick Glimpse of How Our World Took Shape

The Plate Tec­ton­ic Evo­lu­tion of the Earth Over 500 Mil­lion Years: Ani­mat­ed Video Takes You from Pangea, to 250 Mil­lion Years in the Future

Pangea to the Present to the Future: Watch Animations Showing 500 Million Years of Continental Drift

Things change…

Espe­cial­ly when you’re track­ing the con­ti­nen­tal move­ment from Pangea to the present day in 5 mil­lion years incre­ments at the rate of 2.5 mil­lion years per sec­ond.

Wher­ev­er you are, 350 mil­lion years ago, your address would’ve been locat­ed on the mega-con­ti­nent of Pangea.

Here’s a map of what things looked like back then.

Those who’ve grown a bit fuzzy on their geog­ra­phy may require some indi­ca­tions of where future land­mass­es formed when Pangea broke apart. Your map apps can’t help you here.

The first split occurred in the mid­dle of the Juras­sic peri­od, result­ing in two hemi­spheres, Laura­sia to the north and Gond­wana.

As the project’s sto­ry map notes, 175 mil­lion years ago Africa and South Amer­i­ca already bore a resem­blance to their mod­ern day con­fig­u­ra­tions.

North Amer­i­ca, Asia, and Europe need­ed to stay in the oven a bit longer, their famil­iar shapes begin­ning to emerge between 150 and 120 mil­lion years ago.

India peeled off from its “moth­er” con­ti­nent of Gond­wana some 100 mil­lion years ago.

Its tec­ton­ic plate col­lid­ed with the Eurasian Plate, giv­ing rise to the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, by which point, dinosaurs had been extinct for about 15 mil­lion years…)


Geog­ra­phy nerds may chafe at the seem­ing­ly inac­cu­rate sizes of Green­land, Antarc­ti­ca and Aus­tralia. Rest assured that the map­mak­ers are aware, chalk­ing it to the “dis­tor­tion of the car­to­graph­ic pro­jec­tion that exag­ger­ates areas close to the Poles.”

Just for fun, let’s run it back­wards!

But enough of the past. What of the future?

Those who real­ly want to know could jump ahead to the end of the sto­ry map to see PALEOMAP Project founder Christo­pher Scotese’s spec­u­la­tive con­fig­u­ra­tion of earth 250 mil­lion years hence, should cur­rent tec­ton­ic plate motion trends con­tin­ue.

Behold his vision of mega-con­ti­nent, Pangea Prox­i­ma, a land­mass “formed from all cur­rent con­ti­nents, with an appar­ent excep­tion of New Zealand, which remains a bit on the side:”

On the oppo­site side of the world, North Amer­i­ca is try­ing to fit to Africa, but it seems like it does not have the right shape. It will prob­a­bly need more time…

Not to bum you out, but a more recent study paints a grim­mer pic­ture of a com­ing super­con­ti­nent, Pangea Ulti­ma, when extreme tem­per­a­tures have ren­dered just 8 per­cent of Earth’s sur­face hos­pitable to mam­mals, should they sur­vive at all.

As the study’s co-author, cli­ma­tol­o­gist Alexan­der Farnsworth, told Nature News, humans might do well to get “off this plan­et and find some­where more hab­it­able.”

Relat­ed Con­tent 

Map Show­ing Where Today’s Coun­tries Would Be Locat­ed on Pangea

Find the Address of Your Home on Pan­gaea: Open Source Project Lets You Explore the Ancient Land Mass­es of Our Plan­et

Paper Ani­ma­tion Tells Curi­ous Sto­ry of How a Mete­o­rol­o­gist The­o­rized Pan­gaea & Con­ti­nen­tal Drift (1910)

– Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo and Cre­ative, Not Famous Activ­i­ty Book. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

The Surprising Map of Plants: A New Animation Shows How All the Different Plants Relate to Each Other

Are pinecones relat­ed to pineap­ples? This was the unex­pect­ed ques­tion with which my wife con­front­ed me as we woke up this morn­ing. As luck would have it, Dominic Wal­li­man has giv­en us an enter­tain­ing way to check: just a few days ago he released his Map of Plants, through which he gives a guid­ed tour in the video from his Youtube chan­nel Domain of Sci­ence. Here on Open Cul­ture, we’ve pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured Wal­li­man’s maps of biol­o­gy, chem­istry, med­i­cine, quan­tum physics, quan­tum com­put­ing, and doom, all of which may seem more com­plex and daunt­ing than the rel­a­tive­ly famil­iar plant king­dom.

But if you com­pare the Map of Plants to Wal­li­man’s pre­vi­ous cre­ations, down­load­able from his Flickr account, you’ll find that it takes quite a dif­fer­ent shape — and, unsur­pris­ing­ly, a more organ­ic one.

It’s a help to any­one’s under­stand­ing that Wal­li­man shot sec­tions of his explana­to­ry video at the Roy­al Botan­ic Gar­dens, Kew, which affords him the abil­i­ty to illus­trate the species involved with not just his draw­ings, but also real-life spec­i­mens, start­ing at the bot­tom of the “evo­lu­tion­ary tree” with hum­ble algae. From there on, he works his way up to land plants and bryophytes (most­ly moss­es), vas­cu­lar plants and ferns, and then seed plants and gym­nosperms (like conifers and Gink­go).

It is in this sec­tion, about six and a half min­utes in, that Wal­li­man comes to pinecones, men­tion­ing — among oth­er notable char­ac­ter­is­tics — that they come in both male and female vari­eties. But he only reach­es pineap­ples six or so min­utes there­after, hav­ing passed through fun­gi, lichens, angiosperms, and flow­ers. Belong­ing to the mono­cots (or mono­cotyle­dons), a group that also includes lilies, orchids, and bananas, the pineap­ple sits just about on the exact oppo­site end of the Map of Plants from the pinecone. The sim­i­lar­i­ty of their names stems from sev­en­teenth-cen­tu­ry colonists in the new world encoun­ter­ing pineap­ples for the first time and regard­ing them as very large pinecones — an asso­ci­a­tion vis­i­bly refut­ed by Wal­li­man’s map, but for­ev­er pre­served in the lan­guage nev­er­the­less.

Relat­ed con­tent:

1,100 Del­i­cate Draw­ings of Root Sys­tems Reveals the Hid­den World of Plants

The New Herbal: A Mas­ter­piece of Renais­sance Botan­i­cal Illus­tra­tions Gets Repub­lished in a Beau­ti­ful 900-Page Book

Behold 900+ Mag­nif­i­cent Botan­i­cal Col­lages Cre­at­ed by a 72-Year-Old Wid­ow, Start­ing in 1772

Behold an Inter­ac­tive Online Edi­tion of Eliz­a­beth Twining’s Illus­tra­tions of the Nat­ur­al Orders of Plants (1868)

The Bio­di­ver­si­ty Her­itage Library Makes 150,000 High-Res Illus­tra­tions of the Nat­ur­al World Free to Down­load

Björk Takes You on a Jour­ney into the Vast King­dom of Mush­rooms with the New Doc­u­men­tary Fun­gi: Web of Life

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

The History of Cartography, the “Most Ambitious Overview of Map Making Ever,” Is Free Online

FYI: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press has made avail­able online — at no cost –five vol­umes of The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy. Or what Edward Roth­stein, of The New York Times, called “the most ambi­tious overview of map mak­ing ever under­tak­en.” He con­tin­ues:

Peo­ple come to know the world the way they come to map it—through their per­cep­tions of how its ele­ments are con­nect­ed and of how they should move among them. This is pre­cise­ly what the series is attempt­ing by sit­u­at­ing the map at the heart of cul­tur­al life and reveal­ing its rela­tion­ship to soci­ety, sci­ence, and reli­gion…. It is try­ing to define a new set of rela­tion­ships between maps and the phys­i­cal world that involve more than geo­met­ric cor­re­spon­dence. It is in essence a new map of human attempts to chart the world.

If you head over to this page, you will see links (in the left mar­gin) to five vol­umes avail­able in a free PDF for­mat. The image above, appear­ing in Vol. 2, dates back to 1534. Cre­at­ed by Oronce Fine, the first chair of math­e­mat­ics in the Col­lège Roy­al (aka the Col­lège de France), the map fea­tures the world drawn in the shape of a heart. A pret­ty beau­ti­ful design. Below you can find links to the indi­vid­ual vol­umes avail­able online.

Vol­ume 1

The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy: Car­tog­ra­phy in Pre­his­toric, Ancient, and Medieval Europe and the Mediter­ranean

Vol­ume 2: Book 1

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Tra­di­tion­al Islam­ic and South Asian Soci­eties

Vol­ume 2: Book 2

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Tra­di­tion­al East and South­east Asian Soci­eties

Vol­ume 2: Part 3

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Tra­di­tion­al African, Amer­i­can, Arc­tic, Aus­tralian, and Pacif­ic Soci­eties

Vol­ume 3: 

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Euro­pean Renais­sance: Part 1

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Euro­pean Renais­sance, Part 2 

Vol­ume 4:

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Euro­pean Enlight­en­ment

Vol­ume 5:

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Nine­teenth Cen­tu­ry, Forth­com­ing

Vol­ume 6:

Car­tog­ra­phy in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry

If you buy any of the print­ed ver­sions on Ama­zon, each edi­tion will cost you $400-$500. As beau­ti­ful as the book prob­a­bly is, you’ll like­ly appre­ci­ate this free dig­i­tal offer­ing.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 91,000 His­toric Maps from the Mas­sive David Rum­sey Map Col­lec­tion

40,000 Ear­ly Mod­ern Maps Are Now Freely Avail­able Online (Cour­tesy of the British Library)

Behold an Incred­i­bly Detailed, Hand­made Map Of Medieval Trade Routes

Ancient Maps that Changed the World: See World Maps from Ancient Greece, Baby­lon, Rome, and the Islam­ic World

The World Map That Intro­duced Sci­en­tif­ic Map­mak­ing to the Medieval Islam­ic World (1154 AD)

 

The World Map That Introduced Scientific Mapmaking to the Medieval Islamic World (1154 AD)

Cast your mind, if you will, to the city of Ceu­ta. If you’ve nev­er heard of it, or can’t quite recall its loca­tion, you can eas­i­ly find out by search­ing for it on your map appli­ca­tion of choice. Back in the twelfth cen­tu­ry, how­ev­er, you might have had to con­sult an image of the known world engraved on a 300-pound, six-and-a-half-foot wide sil­ver disk — but then, if you had access to that disk, you’d know full well where Ceu­ta was in the first place. For it belonged to King Roger II of Sici­ly, who’d com­mis­sioned it from the geo­g­ra­ph­er, trav­el­er, and schol­ar Abū Abdal­lāh Muham­mad ibn Muham­mad ibn Abdal­lāh ibn Idrīs al-sharif al-Idrīsī — more suc­cinct­ly known as Muham­mad al-Idrisi — per­haps Ceu­ta’s most accom­plished son.

“Al-Idrisi stud­ied in Cor­do­ba and trav­eled wide­ly as a young man, vis­it­ing Asia Minor, Hun­gary, the French Atlantic coast, and even as far north as York, Eng­land,” writes Big Think’s Frank Jacobs. In 1138, Roger II “invit­ed al-Idrisi to his court at Paler­mo, pos­si­bly to explore whether he could install the Mus­lim noble­man as a pup­pet ruler in the bits of North Africa under his domin­ion, or in Spain, which he hoped to con­quer.” The project that result­ed from this meet­ing, fif­teen years of work lat­er, was “a new and accu­rate map of the world.” In addi­tion to knowl­edge gained on his own exten­sive trav­els, Al-Isidiri con­sult­ed ancient sources like Ptolemy’s Geog­ra­phy and “inter­viewed ship’s crews and oth­er sea­soned trav­el­ers, but retained only those sto­ries on which all were in agree­ment,” leav­ing out the myth­i­cal tribes and fan­tas­ti­cal crea­tures.

In addi­tion to the grand disk, Al-Idrisi cre­at­ed an atlas con­sist­ing of 70 detailed, anno­tat­ed maps called Nuzhat al-mushtāq fi’khtirāq āl-āfāq. That Ara­bic title has been var­i­ous­ly trans­lat­ed — “the book of pleas­ant jour­neys into far­away lands,” “the excur­sion of the one who yearns to pen­e­trate the hori­zons,” “the excur­sion of one who is eager to tra­verse the regions of the world” — but in Latin, the book was sim­ply called the Tab­u­la Roge­ri­ana. Alas, writes Jacobs, “the orig­i­nal Latin ver­sion of the atlas (and the sil­ver disk) were destroyed in 1160 in the chaos of a coup against William the Wicked, Roger’s unpop­u­lar son and suc­ces­sor.” Still, Al-Idrisi did man­age to bring the Ara­bic ver­sion back with him to North Africa, where it became an influ­en­tial exam­ple of sci­en­tif­ic car­tog­ra­phy for the Islam­ic world.

A glance at the Library of Con­gress’ Ger­man fac­sim­i­le from 1928 at the top of the post reveals that Al-Idrisi’s world map looks quite unlike the ones we know today. He put south, not north, at the top, the bet­ter for Islam­ic con­verts to ori­ent them­selves toward Mec­ca. “His Europe is sketchy, his Asia amor­phous, and his Africa man­ages to be both par­tial and over­sized,” Jacobs notes, but nev­er­the­less, he got a lot right, includ­ing such lit­tle-known regions as the king­dom of Sil­la (locat­ed in mod­ern-day Korea) and cal­cu­lat­ing — approx­i­mate­ly, but still impres­sive­ly — the cir­cum­fer­ence of the entire Earth. We might con­sid­er pay­ing trib­ute to Al-Idrisi’s achieve­ments by mak­ing a trip to his home­town (a Span­ish-held city, for the record, at the very tip of Africa north-east of Moroc­co), which seems like a pleas­ant place to spend a few weeks — and a promis­ing start­ing point from which to pen­e­trate a few hori­zons of our own.

via Big Think

Relat­ed con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy, “the Most Ambi­tious Overview of Map Mak­ing Ever Under­tak­en,” Is Free Online

How Did Car­tog­ra­phers Cre­ate World Maps before Air­planes and Satel­lites? An Intro­duc­tion

The Evo­lu­tion of the World Map: An Inven­tive Info­graph­ic Shows How Our Pic­ture of the World Changed Over 1,800 Years

40,000 Ear­ly Mod­ern Maps Are Now Freely Avail­able Online (Cour­tesy of the British Library)

500+ Beau­ti­ful Man­u­scripts from the Islam­ic World Now Dig­i­tized & Free to Down­load

The Birth and Rapid Rise of Islam, Ani­mat­ed (622‑1453)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

All the Rivers of the World Shown in Rainbow Colors: A Data Visualization to Explore

Even if you’ve nev­er trav­eled the seas, you’ve sure­ly known at least a few rivers in your time. And though you must be con­scious of the fact that all of those rivers run, ulti­mate­ly, to the sea, you may not have spent much time con­tem­plat­ing it. Now, thanks to the work of map­mak­er and data ana­lyst Robert Szucs, you won’t be able to come upon at a riv­er with­out con­sid­er­ing the par­tic­u­lar sea into which it flows. He’s cre­at­ed what he calls “the first ever map of the world’s rivers divid­ed into ocean drainage basins,” which appears just above.

This world map “shows, in dif­fer­ent col­ors, all the rivers that flow into the Atlantic, Arc­tic, Indi­an or Pacif­ic oceans, plus endorhe­ic riv­er basins which nev­er reach the coast, most­ly due to dry­ing up in desert areas.”

Szucs has also bro­ken it down into “a set of 43 maps in this style for dif­fer­ent coun­tries, states and con­ti­nents,” all of them avail­able to down­load (and to pur­chase as large-for­mat posters) from his web site Grasshop­per Geog­ra­phy.

We pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured Szucs here on Open Cul­ture back in 2017, when he pub­lished a riv­er-and-stream-visu­al­iz­ing map of the Unit­ed States made accord­ing to a sim­i­lar­ly col­or­ful and infor­ma­tive scheme. Exam­in­ing that work of infor­ma­tion design gave me a rich­er con­text in which to imag­ine the rivers around which I grew up in Wash­ing­ton State — the Sam­mamish, the Sno­qualmie, the Colum­bia — as well as a clear­er sense of just how much the Unit­ed States’ larg­er, much more com­plex water­way net­work must have con­tributed to the devel­op­ment of the coun­try as a whole.

Of course, hav­ing lived the bet­ter part of a decade in South Korea, I’ve late­ly had less rea­son to con­sid­er those par­tic­u­lar geo­graph­i­cal sub­jects. But Szucs’ new glob­al ocean drainage maps have brought relat­ed ones to mind: it will hence­forth be a rare day when I ride a train across the Han Riv­er (one of the more sub­lime every­day sights Seoul has to offer) and don’t imag­ine it mak­ing its way out to the Pacif­ic — the very same Pacif­ic that was the des­ti­na­tion of all those rivers of my west-coast Amer­i­can youth. Ocean­i­cal­ly speak­ing, even a move across the world does­n’t take you quite as far as it seems.

Relat­ed con­tent:

All the Rivers & Streams in the U.S. Shown in Rain­bow Col­ors: A Data Visu­al­iza­tion to Behold

The Mean­der­ing Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er and How It Evolved Over Thou­sands of Years Visu­al­ized in Bril­liant Maps from 1944

That Time When the Mediter­ranean Sea Dried Up & Dis­ap­peared: Ani­ma­tions Show How It Hap­pened

A Rad­i­cal Map Puts the Oceans — Not Land — at the Cen­ter of Plan­et Earth (1942)

The Moth­er of All Maps of the “Father of Waters”: Behold the 11-Foot Traveler’s Map of the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er (1866)

Tour the Ama­zon with Google Street View; No Pass­port Need­ed

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

A Map of All the Countries Mentioned in the Bible: What The Countries Were Called Then, and Now

“For most of the last two thou­sand years, the Bible has been vir­tu­al­ly the only his­to­ry book used in West­ern civ­i­liza­tion,” writes Isaac Asi­mov in his Guide to the Bible. “Even today, it remains the most pop­u­lar, and its view of ancient his­to­ry is still more wide­ly and com­mon­ly known than is that of any oth­er.” As a result, “mil­lions of peo­ple today know of Neb­uchad­nez­zar, and have nev­er heard of Per­i­cles, sim­ply because Neb­uchad­nez­zar is men­tioned promi­nent­ly in the Bible and Per­i­cles is nev­er men­tioned at all.” That same dis­pro­por­tion­ate recog­ni­tion is accord­ed to “minor Egypt­ian pharaohs” like Shishak and Necho, “peo­ple whose very exis­tence is doubt­ful” like Nim­rod and the Queen of She­ba, and “small towns in Canaan, such as Shechem and Bethel.”

Asi­mov notes that “only that is known about such places as hap­pens to be men­tioned in the Bible. Ecbatana, the cap­i­tal of the Medi­an Empire, is remem­bered in con­nec­tion with the sto­ry of Tobit, but its ear­li­er and lat­er his­to­ry are dim indeed to most peo­ple, who might be sur­prised to know that it still exists today as a large provin­cial cap­i­tal in the mod­ern nation of Iran.” In the video from Hochela­ga above, we learn that Iran, then called Per­sia, is cel­e­brat­ed in the Bible “for end­ing the Jew­ish exile and return­ing Israel to its home­land. The Book of Usa­iah gives a spe­cial shout-out to its King, Cyrus the Great: he is giv­en the title ‘anoint­ed one,’ or ‘mes­si­ah.’ ”

Though “Per­sia has played a huge role in the his­to­ry of the region, and at a time was one of the largest empires of its day,” it’s just one of the sur­pris­ing­ly many lands to receive Bib­li­cal acknowl­edge­ment. As Hochela­ga cre­ator Tom­my Trelawny makes clear, “when the Bible was writ­ten, the coun­tries as we know them today did­n’t even exist.” But though the con­cept of the mod­ern nation-state had­n’t yet come into being, the places that would give rise to a fair few of the nation-states in the twen­ty-first cen­tu­ry cer­tain­ly had: “shout-out to Egypt, Lebanon, Israel, Per­sia, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Spain, that still exist today, or at least go by the names that appear in the Bible.”

You may notice, Trelawny adds, that “many of these exot­ic lands are men­tioned in the sto­ry of King Solomon’s tem­ple, and how pre­cious raw mate­ri­als were import­ed from far­away places, from the strongest Lebanese cedars to the finest Indi­an ivories.” It hard­ly mat­ters “whether King Solomon was even real; we know these geo­graph­i­cal regions exist today, and that Bib­li­cal writ­ers seemed to know of them as well.” As depict­ed in the Bible or oth­er sources, the ancient world can seem scarce­ly rec­og­niz­able to us. But if we make the nec­es­sary adjust­ments to our per­spec­tive, we can see a process of glob­al­iza­tion not dis­sim­i­lar to what we see in our own soci­eties — whose fas­ci­na­tion with dis­tant lands and expen­sive lux­u­ries seems hard­ly to have dimin­ished over the mil­len­nia.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Lit­er­ary Crit­ic Northrop Frye Teach­es “The Bible and Eng­lish Lit­er­a­ture”: All 25 Lec­tures Free Online

Chris­tian­i­ty Through Its Scrip­tures: A Free Course from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty

Intro­duc­tion to the Old Tes­ta­ment: A Free Yale Course

Intro­duc­tion to New Tes­ta­ment His­to­ry and Lit­er­a­ture: A Free Yale Course

Ancient Israel: A Free Course from NYU

Isaac Asimov’s Guide to the Bible: A Wit­ty, Eru­dite Atheist’s Guide to the World’s Most Famous Book

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Oculi Mundi: A Beautiful Online Archive of 130 Ancient Maps, Atlases & Globes


When it comes to maps, your first hit is always free. For you, maybe it was a Mer­ca­tor pro­jec­tion of the world hung on the wall of an ele­men­tary-school class­room; maybe it was a road atlas in the glove box of your par­ents’ car. For Neil Sun­der­land, the ear­li­est car­to­graph­ic high seems to have come in child­hood, from a hum­ble map of Lan­cashire. When he found suc­cess in finance, his addic­tion grew in pro­por­tion to his means, and today his mul­ti-mil­lion-dol­lar map col­lec­tion includes the work of renowned six­teenth-cen­tu­ry artists like Albrecht Dür­er, Hans Hol­bein, and Gio­van­ni Cimer­li­no, who in 1566 depict­ed the known world in the shape of a heart.

Cimer­li­no’s cordi­form Earth (bot­tom) is just one of the 130 his­toric “world maps, celes­tial maps, atlases, books of knowl­edge and globes” now avail­able for your perusal at Oculi Mun­di, an elab­o­rate web site with the dig­i­tized hold­ings of the Sun­der­land Col­lec­tion. “A plat­form to explore high-res­o­lu­tion images of these beau­ti­ful objects, to peek inside the books, and to dis­cov­er infor­ma­tion and sto­ries,” it offers both a chrono­log­i­cal­ly ordered “research” mode and a more free-form “explore” mode for brows­ing.

Either way, with its old­est arti­fact dat­ing to the ear­ly thir­teenth cen­tu­ry and its newest to the ear­ly nine­teenth, it con­tains a great swath of car­to­graph­ic his­to­ry to behold.

The New York Times’ Susanne Fowler quotes Sun­der­land’s daugh­ter Helen Sun­der­land-Cohen, who over­sees the Oculi Mun­di project, describ­ing a par­tic­u­lar­ly ven­er­a­ble atlas by fif­teenth-cen­tu­ry human­ist schol­ar Francesco Berlinghieri as “one of the ear­li­est uses of cop­per plate, in atlases and in print. You can see how fine­ly engraved the lines are, and how they’re learn­ing to use cop­per plate.” All art may be insep­a­ra­ble from the state of tech­nol­o­gy of its time, but maps — the mak­ers of which have always been dri­ven to visu­al­ize and orga­nize as much knowl­edge of the world as pos­si­ble — reflect it with a spe­cial clar­i­ty.

Explor­ing the Sun­der­land Col­lec­tion through Oculi Mun­di, you can also trace changes in what sort of knowl­edge belongs on maps in the first place. Sun­der­land-Cohen names as a per­son­al favorite the “Rudi­men­tum Novi­tio­rum” from 1475 (above), “an illus­trat­ed chron­i­cle in Latin used by monks as a teach­ing aid for novices.” Besides maps, it includes “Bib­li­cal his­to­ry that is illus­trat­ed with lots of won­der­ful wood­block draw­ings, and everybody’s wear­ing cloth­ing of the day, and in the hous­es of the day”; the con­nois­seur will notice tech­niques import­ed from illu­mi­nat­ed man­u­scripts. As for what such a work costs today, well, if you have to ask, you’re not ful­ly hooked on maps yet. Enter Oculi Mun­di here.

via Messy Nessy

Relat­ed con­tent:

40,000 Ear­ly Mod­ern Maps Are Now Freely Avail­able Online (Cour­tesy of the British Library)

Ancient Maps that Changed the World: See World Maps from Ancient Greece, Baby­lon, Rome, and the Islam­ic World

Down­load 91,000 His­toric Maps from the Mas­sive David Rum­sey Map Col­lec­tion

The His­to­ry of Car­tog­ra­phy, “the Most Ambi­tious Overview of Map Mak­ing Ever Under­tak­en,” Is Free Online

How Did Car­tog­ra­phers Cre­ate World Maps before Air­planes and Satel­lites? An Intro­duc­tion

An Archive of 800+ Imag­i­na­tive Pro­pa­gan­da Maps Designed to Shape Opin­ions & Beliefs: Enter Cornell’s Per­sua­sive Maps Col­lec­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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