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A Brief History of Cartography - Part 3 **Home Study**

A Brief History of Cartography - Part 3 **Home Study**

Authur: Bernabe A Hernandez, Ph.D, PE, PLS

Part 3 of the history of cartography will begin approximately in the middle of the Fifteen (15th) Century and end arbitrarily around 1650 C.E., when most historians accept this year to be the end of the Italian Renaissance. The time that will be the focus of our study and lasting approximately two hundred (200) years is known as the “Age of Discovery”.  It was a period that saw the rise of strong central national states, such as Spain, France and Portugal.  This last nation under the tutelage of one of its princes, Henry the Navigator, lunge a directed program of discovery in attaining an ocean route around the Cape of Good Hope to India and the Far East for trading; in the process the west coast of Africa was chartered. Parallel to the Portuguese, the new unified Spanish Crown sent their explorer Christopher Columbus with the aim of finding a new route to the same Far East commercial ports but, going West, across the Atlantic Ocean and thus discovering the new lands that we know as the Americas. These “nation-states’ were aware of the role that maps played to understand the world and to define the limits or boundaries of each nationstate physical, commercial and political interests. Maps for these nations were highly precious tools that in most cases; the map itself was held as a state secret.   

Part 3 continues where Part 2 ends.  Before we were land surveyors we were mappers, makers of maps, and that is one of the objectives of this seminar: to seek and become aware that ours is a broad discipline; that we are not limited to “cadastral surveys” or “topographical surveys”. This brief history of cartography is not a history of maps as visual artifacts of art or technology, even though we will be making use of maps to illustrate our story. Rather, it is the story of the evolution of our profession in the art and science of map making, of expanding our horizons to the idea of mapping as a cognitive/interpretive science involving communication between the map creator and the map user, of how we as surveyors and mappers have developed mapping as a process of spatial communication.  Let us take the “broad” approach to our profession and incorporate, however we understand the term, cartography into our practice.

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