Stichting Historische Cartografie van de Nederlanden

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 

What is historical cartography?


The results of the science of cartography are so well established in our society that we are familiar down to the smallest details.
 
Street Atlases and detailed city maps are completely common practice. on almost every road of a Dutch or Belgian town is a billboard with a town map and a comprehensive plan.
 
Before going on a holiday we orientate us in a universally accessible road atlas of Europe or on a very detailed world atlas, based on modern satellite images. The shortest route from home to any destination is easily found by using digitalized computer files. The printed direction on the dashboard and the navigation systems nowadays take us through the shortest route from departure to destination.
 
But the for all obvious micro cartography today - the finesse displayed in the map - is the result of a long and difficult process from various astrological and astronomical assumptions through a primitive map. This primitive map from antiquity and the Middle Ages - mention this to the detailed micro images of today a macro view - is in the Modern Period (from about 1500) increasingly specified by exploration and improved and more accurate measuring instruments. Ultimately, this process led to the micro picture now. The history of this contemporary cartography is the area where the historical mapping focuses.
 
The word cartography comes from the Greek and Latin antiquity, from the Greek ‘chartès’ [papyrus paper, paper] or the Latin charta [paper from the papyrus plant, or derived from script or writing book] and the Greek ‘grafein’ [scratch in, writing]. The 'map writing’ or ‘cartography’ is the name under which we all summarize scientific and technical activities related to maps and the production of these maps.

with the adding of the word "historic" at cartography we mean "the science that deals with all aspects of the production and distribution of cartographic documents in the past. A particularly interesting topic, but also incredibly comprehensive, that our foundation limits itself to the historical cartography of the Netherlands.