Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘History of Geography

Any knowledge of “History of Geography” or world maps?

Do you know that the Chinese cartographers oriented the southern hemisphere to be on the top of maps? Why?

The northern hemisphere (close to where they lived), was very cold and foggy, and the Moguls invaded China from there, thus, devaluing this northern hemisphere and relegating it to the bottom part of a map.

The Arab cartographers adopted the Chinese orientation.

For example, in 1157, Al Idrisi sent a most complete map of 70 double pages to King Roger II of Sicily.  The map detailed the Mediterranean Sea basin.

Obviously, you have to turn the map upside down to visualize it as we currently see it.  For example, if the concept of civilized and barbaric countries were prevalent in these ancient times, as it is now, the southern countries will boast to belong to the southern civilized hemisphere!

In Medieval Europe, top of maps represented the eastern side of the world. Why?

According to the Bible, East was the Eden because Cain was chased eastward toward the void.  Additionally, a belt of fire cordoned off the East portion, not to be accessible to entrance.  Christopher Columbus described the Antilles Islands (East of Asia in his mind) as Eden where people roamed completely naked and rich in exotic fruits.

Mercator, a Dutch cartographer (1512-1594), re-oriented the maps, on the ground that the southern hemisphere is “heavier” than the northern counterpart according to the Greek tradition. Europe was to be located in the center of the world.

Do you know that continents were categorized in two major groups and intermediate regions?

For example, you had the “solid regions” (Sub-Sahara Africa, Northern America, Southern America, Asia, Europe, and Antarctica) and the malleable autonomous regions such as (India, Australia, Russia, and the island of Madagascar).  The other regions were shared portions such as (North Africa, Turkey, Mongolia, Middle East, Central Asia, Central Europe…).  You can guess the geopolitical theme for this division of the world.

Do you know that, even recently in the 60’s, the world was divided as solid geography, liquid geography, and gaseous geography?

For example solid geography (founded by Paul Vidal de la Blanche, 1923) relied on the material objects such as mountain chains, raw materials, types of rocks…in order to describe a country?

The Anglo-Saxon description of geography was of the “liquid kind”, emphasizing space and modeling…a flux representation.

In the 80’s, description of geography included the time-line or history of a region, and thus, gaseous geography!

Fernand Braudel demonstrated the interconnections between Time (history of a region) and the Space (land facts) in describing a region…

In this globalization period, the world is divided among the developed countries (West Europe, USA, Japan, China, Russia), the fast developing countries (Brasil, India, Turkey, Iran, Indonesia…supplying the cheap work force), and the third world supplying the raw materials and minerals.

For example, I tend to believe that major rivers, much more than mountain chains, are the determining dividing lines among autonomous countries and representing the character of people.

It is toward major water sources that mankind agglomerated and settled and founded urban centers.  Within two decades, water resources will be scarce and the most important element for survival.  Countries controlling the origin or sources of major rivers will enjoy huge leverage in the geopolitical tag of war. (Read link in note)

For example, China will never relinquish Tibet:  The Himalaya mountain chains are the sources of most of the major rivers flowing in China, South-East Asia, and even in the Ganges (India).

Turkey control the sources of the Euphrates and Tiger rivers flowing into Syria and Iraq.

Ethiopia control the Nile water source…

Note 1:  Article was inspired from an article in the French monthly Sciences Humaines, and written by Christian Grataloup

Note 2:  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/lions-and-lionesses-along-the-fertile-crescent-ancient-empires/


adonis49

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adonis49

October 2020
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