Make your own free website on

How to read maps, when were they invented, why are they so useful?

How to read maps, when were they invented, why are they so useful?
The Compass Rose, Cool Facts.
The art of Cartography

How to read maps.
When were they invented?
Why are they so useful? 

Maps tend to be made in such a way that any person can gather basic information from them. The first thing to look at when beginning to read a map is the legend or key. Most of them have these and they depict the different symbols that aid in the reading of the map. Every map is smaller than its actual subject and so it is important to completely understand the map's scaling. For example, one inch on one map could be equivilent to 1,000 miles, while on another, it may be only 10 miles. Maps of the World have different lines running on them. the lines are called latitude and longitude lines and there is also the equator. Latitude lines run parallel to the equator and to themselves. Longitude lines run in an orange-slice fashion from the North pole to the South pole. The equator is the line that runs along the very middle of the Earth and seperates the Northern and Southern hemispheres, (halves of the Earth.) On maps, colors are used to represent different things, for example, blue for water, green for forests, brown for mountains and landmasses, etc... Historic maps are not as colorful as modern maps because most of them were hand drawn and colored dyes were very expensive. Symbols on maps are helpful because they are smaller and more compact than writing out entire words. The compass or compass rose shows the directions of a certain location in relation to another location. There are different kinds of maps that are used for different things. Even old maps had specific uses, some marked roads, land ownership, cities, countries, trade routes, safe ocean crossings, continents, and even early "views" of the world and stars. 

The world would literally be lost without maps. They place us and help us to visualize things. Because they are drawn from above, they give us a unique view of the world. We can see farther and put distances in better perspective from above. They make it possible for us to plan and travel from point A to point B. Because of maps, we know where to go and how to get back. 

The oldest map that has ever been found dates back to between 11,000 and 12,000 B.C. It was carved on a mammoth tusk and is thought to show a picture of a river with dwellings along the sides. 

Here is a recreated picture of that first map.