Viewing the Emergent City and Its People

Maps to the past – always interesting to see how representation shapes our ideas….


In the new paperback version of Cartographies of Time, written by professors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grifton, the timeline, one of the most fundamental human tools, offers a frame for understanding Western intellectual history. In the first “comprehensive history of graphic representations of time,” we get a sense of how modern American and European knowledge and values shaped the understanding and modeling of time. As the authors, two professors of history, explain, the simple, linear timeline we all rely on now took a long time to get to. Evolving over time, the timeline itself is rich with history.

While the writing can be a bit confusing in parts as the authors jump back and forth in time (there doesn’t seem to be a very linear history for the timeline), the images, which have been carefully curated for the book, almost speak for themselves, providing a sense of how this “most important tool for organizing information” has changed since 1450.

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