Viewing the Emergent City and Its People


World map by Ranulf Higden, British Library

Recently, in my ongoing researching of maps, I discovered that before the 15th century, the word “map” did not exist. Instead, what today we consider to be maps were referred to in the centuries preceding the 15th, as “diagrams”. This makes a great deal of sense because cartographic accuracy was less important than the graphic depiction of spatial relationships between not only geographic features but between social, cultural and religious values and symbologies. During the Medieval period maps were produced to depict a particular event or occasion unlike our contemporary notion of a ‘generalised’ map of a territory. Medieval maps included written descriptions and were often accompanied by written itineraries on scrap pieces of parchment that often listed the successive places/sights along the route. These maps were narrative in nature, and combined history, memory and experience to diagram place. This format of mapping…

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