Pre-1600: Early maps and diagrams

The earliest seeds of visualization arose in geometric diagrams, in tables of the positions of stars and other celestial bodies, and in the making of maps to aid in navigation and exploration. We list only a few of these here to provide some early context against which later developments can be viewed.

In the 16th century, techniques and instruments for precise observation and measurement of physical quantities were well-developed. As well, we see initial ideas for capturing images directly, and recording mathematical functions in tables. These early steps comprise the beginnings of the husbandry of visualization.

550 BC
1st world map?
Added: 2007-02-01

The first world map The first world map

0366 BC to 0335 BC
1st route map
Added: 2007-02-01

Peutinger map Peutinger map

The whole of the Roman world is reproduced on this painted parchment 34 centimetres in height and almost 7 metres in length. Although it is the most reproduced Roman chart, the Table of Peutinger does not make it possible to perceive the extent of the cartographic work undertaken by the Romans. Land conquerors, they had a utilitary vision of geography and their cartographic representations were related to the imperial conquests. Topographers accompanied the Roman armies in their campaigns in order to recognize the conquered grounds. Information collected was used for the military needs and the development of infrastructures such as the routes, but also to describe the routes. The table of Peutinger, named after the XVI century German collector to which it was offered, was a form of very widespread geographical description. If this chart does not bring topographic information, it gives indications of distances and size of the places, very practical information for the traveller. The North-South distances are represented on a smaller scale than the East-West distances, thus making it possible to the traveller to unfold or unroll the section which corresponded to its course.
240 BC
Diameter of earth measured
Added: 2007-02-01

Assuming the earth is a sphere, the measured angle between the sites is seven degrees and the circumference is about 50 times 800 km., or about 40,000 km.
170 BC
Invention of parchment
Added: 2007-02-01
134 BC
Star chart
Added: 2007-02-01

He seems to have been very impressed that either of two geometrically constructed hypotheses could 'save the appearance' of the path that a planet follows
100 BC
The first mechanical calculator
Added: 2009-11-10

Antikythera Antikythera

Antikythera mechanism Antikythera mechanism

Antikythera front view Antikythera front view

Calendars were important to ancient societies for timing agricultural activity and fixing religious festivals. Eclipses and planetary motions were often interpreted as omens, while the calm regularity of the astronomical cycles must have been philosophically attractive in an uncertain and violent world. Named after its place of discovery in 1901 in a Roman shipwreck, the Antikythera Mechanism is technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards (Freeth et al., 2006).
0 BC
Oldest known palaeolithic map
Added: 0000-00-00

Palaeolithic map Palaeolithic map

Image representation of the palaeolithic map Image representation of the palaeolithic map

Article about a palaeolithic map A palaeolithic map from 13,660 calBP: engraved stone blocks from the Late Magdalenian in Abauntz Cave (Navarra, Spain)

90 to 150
Added: 2007-02-01

Ptolemy's world map, republished in 1482 Ptolemy's world map, republished in 1482

Ptolemy portrait Ptolemy portrait

Invention of paper
Added: 2007-02-01

Tsai Lun portrait Tsai Lun portrait

Diagram: planetary movements
Added: 2008-07-17

Planetary movements icon Planetary movements icon

Diagram: paired comparisons
Added: 2006-12-03

Llull portrait Llull portrait

Diagram: knowledge
Added: 2006-12-03

Llull's tree of knowledge Llull's tree of knowledge

Llull's mechanical disks Llull's mechanical disks

Proto-bar graph
Added: 2008-07-17

Oresme bar graph Oresme bar graph

Page from Oresme Page from Oresme

Oresme portrait Oresme portrait

Oresme:1482 Oresme:1968
Catalan Atlas
Added: 2007-02-01

Carte de l'Europe, de l'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient, BNF, ESP 30 Carte de l'Europe, de l'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient, BNF, ESP 30

Carte de l'Europe, de l'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient, BNF, ESP 30 Carte de l'Europe, de l'Afrique du Nord et du Proche-Orient, BNF, ESP 30

Graphs of theoretical relation
Added: 2007-02-01

Nicolas de Cusa portrait Nicolas de Cusa portrait

Movable type
Added: 2008-07-17

Page from the Mazarin bible Page from the Mazarin bible

Gutenberg type sample Gutenberg type sample

Gutenberg portrait Gutenberg portrait

Movable types in Wikipedia The first known movable type system was invented in China by Bi Sheng out of ceramic between 1041 and 1048.

longitude via clock
Added: 2008-07-17

Gemma Frisius portrait Gemma Frisius portrait

Added: 2008-07-17

Image from Peter Apianius Cosmographia, edited by Gemma Frissius Image from Peter Apianius Cosmographia, edited by Gemma Frissius

Gemma-Frisius Diagram of triangulation Gemma-Frisius Diagram of triangulation

camera obscura
Added: 2007-02-01
Camera Obscura in Wikipedia The first camera obscura was built by the scientist Abu Ali Al-Hasan Ibn al-Haitham, born in Basra (965–1039 AD), known in the West as Alhacen or Alhazen, who carried out practical experiments on optics in his Book of Optics.

Trigonometric tables
Added: 2008-07-17

Land survey
Added: 2004-10-03

Tartaglia portrait Tartaglia portrait

Computation of probabilities
Added: 2007-02-01

Gerolamo Cardano portrait Gerolamo Cardano portrait

1st modern atlas
Added: 2007-02-01

Ortelius world map, from De Camp 1970 Ortelius world map, from De Camp 1970

Ortelius portrait Ortelius portrait

Positions of stars and planets
Added: 2007-02-01

Parallax diagram Parallax diagram

Tycho Brahe's wall quadrant Tycho Brahe's wall quadrant

Tycho Brahe portrait Tycho Brahe portrait

Isosynchronous pendulum
Added: 2008-07-17