Because I believe strongly that well-educated human beings in the modern world should know something about the physical world we inhabit, and should also know where things happened in the past, I've collected the following links to help my students locate places we discuss in class. I'm also quite fond of historical maps and cartography, because the images themselves are often works of art, so I've included links to these as well. The bottom portions of the list concern other kinds of mapping and maps used for non-traditional purposes.

This list is by no means exhaustive. A quick Google search for "history of maps" or "history of mapping" will turn out many more. I've picked the best of the lot, using quality of information and design as criteria.

theory l places l general sites/links pages l other kinds of mapping l literary and imaginary maps

Theory and History: "Map views" are not necessarily easy for human beings to conjure up. In order to understand how we come to make maps and see the world from different perspectives, see these links:

Fundamentals of Mapping and, in particular, History of Mapping. These informative pages are sponsored by the ICSM: Australia's Intergovernmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping. Although focused on Australian places, the historical and theoreticall information applies everywhere.

The Harley and Woodward edition of The History of Cartography, Vol. 1 (1987) is available in PDF from the University of Chicago Press.

Ancient World Mapping Center. An interdisciplinary research center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It includes a free map of the development of the Roman Empire.

David Smith's, the purpose of which is to provide "extensive resources for educators, students, and anyone interested in expanding their geographic horizons." The site offers several intereting approaches to thinking about geographical space. I found the following link there.

40 Maps that Explain the World (with a link to 40 more) from the Washington Post. Max Fisher used to host the Post's World Views section. He's a former writer/editor for The Atlantic, and now works on Ezra Klein's Vox media project.

Digital Maps

Google Earth, the single most convincing answer I can think of to the question, "why bother with the internet at all?" And that's in addition to Google Maps.

ArchAtlas. This is a brand-spanking new project (well; I discovered it only recently) that aims to use new satellite mapping technologies to understand how and why people ended up where they did. This is just terrific!

Note: access to digital maps today is as near as one's cell phone. When I set this page up, that wasn't the case (the last update before this one was 2009). Of course everybody knows about GPS and Google Maps now, but Google Earth and ArchAtlas are still two of the most comprehensive global mapping sources available.


Ancient Near East and Egypt:

The Oriental Institute (University of Chicago) Map Series includes archaeological site maps for places the Institute has excavated: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Levant, Sudan, Syria, Turkey.

Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Maps and Images (especially for maps dealing with the rise and spread of Islam, and the routes of the Crusaders)

Wikimedia Commons has a page of Old Maps of Egypt ("old" means 70+years). There's one of Old Maps of the Near East as well. Both are linked to numerous sub-categories.

The Mediterranean World (including Crete, Greece, Turkey, and Rome)

Interactive Ancient Mediterranean Index This comprehensive site provides outline maps, terrain maps, and place-name maps from ancient regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea.

Historical Atlas of the Mediterranean. This site is a little more commercial than those I usually post, but it has good interactive maps of important historical sites.

Ancient Greece.Org has some nice maps in Flash format that allows for zooming and moving, and different time sequences on the same map: Ancient Greece, Ancient Crete, Bronze Age Aegean, Mycenaean Greece.

The Beginnings of Historic Greece 700-600 B. C. (Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection, University of Texas. This particular map is from William Shepherd's Historical Atlas, 1923.) The Europe page contains many more maps of ancient Greece and Italy and other ancient European sites of interest. Another gem: Reference Map of Attica & Plan of Thermopylae 480 B. C. (University of Texas). Main page: Maps of Greece from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection .

Historical maps of Rome (Historic Cities). These offer views of the city as drawn by a variety of mapmakers since 1493.

The route of Alexander the Great (from Hyperhistory)


Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe (contains historical maps from about the time of Christ on)

Historical Maps of Europe (The page from the Perry-Castañeda Library linked above.)

Internet Medieval Sourcebook: Maps and Images. From Fordham University. These maps cover a large area--roughly any place of importance during the Middle Ages; most maps are adapted from Muir's Historical Atlas of 1911.

Ireland's History In Maps: A comprehensive site with maps from the Pleistocene to the 19th Century, as well as links to historical and literary (myth) sources.

Maps of Ireland and Northern Ireland: A very extensive list of maps covering every square inch of Ireland and every moment in time since the formation of the planets (or so it seems). From the CAIN (Conflict Archive on the Internet) Web Service, affiliated with the University of Ulster.

The Stone Map: a clickable map of ancient monuments in Ireland.

The North Atlantic

The Vinland Map--a page to help you decide whether or not the map is a fake, but with additional useful information. Here's an article from BBC on current scientific discussions about the map: Scientists Disagree Over Viking Map. Here's a PBS Nova site (The Viking Deception), if you need more information or another perspective. Another page from BBC provides a map that shows where the Vikings came from and where they settled in England.

For serious map geeks: Sedimentation, Tectonics, and Paleogeography of the North Atlantic Region These maps cover the geological history of the North Atlantic region from the Early Cambrian to the Miocene. They're from a great page by Dr. Ron Blakey at Arizona State, Regional Paleogeographic Views of Earth History from which you can locate evidence that I'm not exaggerating when I talk about North Africa's "slamming" into southern Europe at a rapid clip.

South Asia (the Indian subcontinent)

Maps of India. This is an ad-supported history page with a timeline and other information. Skip to the bottom for the maps.

Maps of South Asia: An Organized Collection (Prof. Frances Pritchett, Columbia University): includes both historical maps and contemporary, as well as specialized maps--such as relief and terrain maps, and ethnic groups, etc. This is an unbelievably complete and thorough site.

East Asia (including Southeast Asia)

Chinese Cultural Studies: Images: Maps (City University of New York)

Medieval Japan and Korea (6th to 19th centuries); this is a bit skimpy, but provides place names and a good clean map. From Frank Smitha's World History maps.

Qin Dynasty and Its Conquests (Frank Smitha)

The Rise of Ancient China (also from Frank Smitha--see World History maps, below)


Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: Maps of Australia and the Pacific

Just to see if any of you are paying attention, here's the National Public Toilet mapof Australia.

Images of Early Maps on the Web: Australia and Oceania (back to serious business)

Pacific Islands

Map South Pacificincludes clear, easily navigable maps of Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia

Geographic Guide's relief map of Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand)

The Americas

North America

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) maps of Native Lands, Current Places, and History with links to state-by-state maps, satellite images, land form maps, etc.

Images of Early Maps on the Web: North America: good source for historical maps of Canada and the United States, but the US gets its own page too.

Lewis and Clark: Mapping the West is a nicely designed page from the Smithsonian, with segments on the expedition, the process of mapping and of cartography in general, and what was learned.

Central America

Images of Early Maps on the Web: South and Central America You'd think cartographers would know better, but Mexico is included here.

South America

Latin American Network Information Center (Lanic) regional maps: links to individual countries as well as the continents. At the bottom of the page are more general links from international sources.

General Sites and/or Links Pages

The Jesse Earl Hyde Lantern Slide Collection at Case Western Reserve University contains a section on Human Paleontology, which includes copies of historical maps that record perceptions of the world in ancient times; they begin at section 769.F.1.

World History maps from Frank Smitha. This is a very comprehensive site that provides straightforward, well-designed, informative maps from ancient times to the present, often within a narrative context (click on place names for maps).

Cartographic Images: a page of links to historical maps from a variety of sources--some superb. Time spans include ancient to medieval, and there are additional links to history of cartography sites. Mercator's World magazine (one of my favorites; unfortunately now defunct) liked this site.

Index of Ancient maps from the above-mentioned site. Ancient maps do a very nice job of helping us understand how ancient peoples understood their world.

National Geographic Map Machine This site is great, and their blurb is true: "Find nearly any place on Earth, and view it by population, climate, and much more. Plus, browse antique maps, find country facts, or plan your next outdoor adventure with our trail maps." Don't forget that the Kelley Library possesses the CD ROM compilation of National Geographic, which has great maps, and some maps created to accompany specific articles are also accessible through the National Geographic Society online.

Other kinds of mapping: the metaphor of the map is mind-boggling in its ability to help us understand aspects of human existence other than space. Here are a few applications beyond what one would expect. Some of these are obvious, some less so.

National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program offers history and background on the creation of geologic maps.

The gummint's Chromosome Mapping page, part of the Human Genome Project Information page.

Ljuba's Map Collection: a collection of maps showing worldwide linguistic affiliations and language groups, as well as some miscellaneous map stuff at the end.

Wikipedia's page on Mind-mapping is clearer than anything else I could find on the topic. And here's Wikipedia's "disambiguation" page that lays out different uses for the word "mapping."

Geological Maps are a specialized form of physically representing geologial formations on a two-dimensional surface. A couple of good examples can be found here: Utah Geological Survey (click on the PDF map or the simpler postcard map, also PDF); and The California Geological Services page with a link to a Fault Activity Map. My Google search for "geological maps" produced this image page, which shows both recent modern and historical versions.

For the terminally paranoid, here's an article from the Guardian (August 2012) by Oliver Burkeman on "How Google and Apple's Digital Mapping is Mapping Us."

Mapping turns out to be an especially important tool to help get aid to people who need it. Here's a National Geographic Society article by Patrick Meier about "How Crisis Mapping Saved Lies in Haiti."

Literary and imaginary maps

Pinterest's page on Literary Maps. There aren't as many of these as I would have hoped (47 as I type), but if you're interested in this map genre, you'll find fellow travellers here. Or do a Google search on "literary maps," which will turn up thousands.

Ursula K. LeGuin's maps of places in her novels: I always appreciate maps in books because they help readers imagine spaces, distances, locations. LeGuin's stories are all richly realized, and her maps help draw the reader into her narrative.

Fantasy maps: Most good writers have an idea of where their stories take place; fantasy and science fiction writers in particular seem to need to "solidify" their imaginary worlds. I mentioned LeGuin above (that link is to maps for many of her works), but here are some more:

How to Make a Fantasy World Map by Isaac Stewart, wrting on quite good advice.

In 2013 io9 ran a story called The Most Incredible Fantasy Maps You've Ever Seen, by Annalee Newitz, which covers most of them, it seems.


I plan to work a great deal harder on maintaining this page, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.