|Have students sit in
eight cooperative groups. Distribute sets of photocopied maps (A through
H) to each group. After examining and discussing the maps, ask groups to
classify the maps. They can put them in chronological order, by geographic
accuracy, or by any other logical system. Ask them to justify their decisions.
version for teacher of "Additional Information on Historical Maps" included
Hecataeus of Miletus was well-travelled. This map is based on
his writings in Description of the Earth. Written in approximately
500 B.C., it shows some knowledge of India. (Wheatley,
Anaximander of Miletus
is credited as being the first person to draw a map of the world.
This map by Hecataeus, also of Miletus, is similar to the one described
(Berthon, p. 19)
Herodotus, the Greek historian, travelled throughout the Mediterranean
world. This map shows his knowledge of Indian people, the Indus River,
and the Indian Ocean which was called the Erythraean Sea. It dates
to approximatelyb 450 B.C. Herodotus had travelled extensively throughout
the Mediterranean and collected information about Asia.
Beyond India lay unknown
and uninhabited deserts..."for the Indians live the furthest towards
the east and the sunrise of all the Asians with whom we are acquainted
or of whom we know by hearsay. Eastwards the country of the Indians
is a sandy desert."
(Wheatley, p. 124)
"I cannot help but laughing
at the absurdity of all the mapmakers--there are plenty of them--who
show Ocean running like a river round a perfectly circular earth,
with Asia and Europe of the same size." Herodotus said of the three
known continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa) "Europe is as long as
the other two put together, and for breadth is not, in my opinion,
even to be compared with them."
(Berthon, p. 19)
Herodotus wrote about the
Egyptian king Neco who reigned from 616 to 600 B.C. and who sent
out a fleet of Phoenician ships to sail south on the Red Sea to
attempt to sail around the east coast of Africa. Although the Phoenician
records are lost, the voyage was said to have taken nearly three
years before the ships entered the Mediterranean at the Pillars
of Hercules (Strait of Gibralter). Said Herodotus, "These men made
a statement which I do not believe myself, that they sailed on a
westerly course 'round the southern end of Libya. They had the sun
on the right -- to northward of them." Herodotus could not believe
that Africa was so large as to extend into the southern hemisphere.
(Berthon, p. 20)
This map was based on information gathered by Eratosthenes.
He was the librarian at Alexandria and this map dates to the early
200's B.C. (Wheatley, p. 125.)
Because of the campaigns
of Alexander the Great, knowledge of Asia greatly increased during
the century before Eratosthenes (334-323 B. C.). As the librarian
at Alexandria, his ideas were based on the records of various government
officials and envoys who had traveled as far as India. This map
clearly shows Sri Lanka, known as "Taprobane" as well as the mouth
of the Ganges River. Southeast Asia was not mentioned in his writings.
(Wheatley, p. 124)
Eratosthenes was a brilliant
mapmaker. He was the first person to calculate the circumference
of the earth based on the position of the sun on the summer solstice
and the location of the cities Alexandria and Syrene. His result
was within 200 miles of what we know today: 24,862 miles around
(Berthon, p. 25)
Strabo, the author of a seventeen volume encyclopedia about the
known world, believed that the inhabitable world was twice as wide
as it was long.1600's A.D. (Berthon, p. 21, 22, &
Strabo's extraordinary writings in the
seventeen-volume encyclopedia Geography (18 A.D.) contained all
the known information about the human, animal and physical world.
He believed that the inhabitable world was twice as broad as it
was long. Strabo did not believe ships or humans could survive travel
south into the "torrid zone" where seas were so large they were
uncrossable. From his travels he learned of Meroe (Khartoum) and
the "cinnamon country" to the south. He proposed the idea that
spices came from the Indies, and he correctly
described the shipping routes between the Mediterranean Sea and
India. (Berthon, p. 25)
(Suarez, p. 65)
In 43 A.D. the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela was the first
to mention the Southeast Asian islands of Chryse and Argyre, legendary
lands of gold and silver. (Wheatley, p. 128-129.)
43 A.D. the Roman geographer, Pomponius Mela, was the first writer
to make specific reference to Southeast Asia in his popular book
on geography. For the next thousand years his mention of Chryse
and Agyre were used to describe the legendary islands.
wrote, "Apart from those areas too warm for human settlement, the
region between the Indus and the Ganges is occupied by black peoples
resembling Ethiopians. BetweenColis andTamus the coast runs straight.
It is inhabited by retiring people who garner rich harvests from
the sea . . . In the vicinity of Tamus is the island of Chryse ;
in the vicinity of the Ganges that of Argyre. According to olden
writers, the soil of the former consists of gold, that of the latter
is of silver; and it seems very probable that either the name arises
from this fact or the legend derives from the name." Pomponius Mela
saw the need to balance the landmass on one side of the world with
a counter-earth he named Antichthon.
(Wheatley, p. 128-129)
(Berthon, p. 33)
The ancient world as depicted by Ptolemy in 150 A.D. Notice
that the continent of Africa extends far to the south, joining Asia
in the far east. The Indian Ocean is a large sea. (Miller,
Claudius Ptolemy influenced
geography for more than one thousand years. Born in Egypt, he wrote
two great works, the Almagest (on astromomy) andGeography while
librarian at Alexandria from 127 - 150 A.D.
Knowledge of Asia, and
the "Golden Peninsula" of Southeast Asia in particular, was described
by the geography Marinus of Tyre. Ptolemy used his writings as the
foundation for his Geography. His work in astronomy was largely
based on the ideas of Hipparchus of Rhodes (three hundred years
earlier) who proposed divicding the length and breadth of the world
by 360 degrees. Miscalculations of the earth's circumference by
later geographers caused Ptolemy to use figures for a much smaller
world. This map shows lines of latitude and longitude not accurate
by today's coordinates. Ptolemy's map shows Africa extending all
the way to Asia, ending the idea that it was surrounded by water.
Instead the Indian Ocean becomes a vast inland sea. The region called
"Terra Incognita" was designed to balance the global landmass.
Ptolemy's achievement was
to depict the earth as a sphere on a map with curving coordinates
of latitude and longitude. More than 1,300 years later, his ideas
were rediscovered during the Renaissance.
(Berthon, p. 32-36)
(Suarez, p. 63-64)
Dionysus Perigetes (the Tourist) depicts the world in the second
century, A.D. The Erythraeum Sea surrounds the known world.Chyse,
"the Golden" is shown.
This summary of the world
was made in the 2nd century, A.D. by Dionysus Periegetes (Dionysus
the Tourist) so that readers might show "their superior knowledge
among the ignorant." Precise locations seem less important than
the vivid descriptions he gives.
"And when your keel has
ploughed the deep waters of the Scythian Main, your route turns
toward the Eastern Sea and brings you to the Island of Chryse, situated
at the very rising of the sun. . . But if on leaving the northern
climes, you direct your vessel across the sea towards the light
of the sun at its fiery rising, you will see the Golden Island with
its fertile soils."
(Wheatley, p. 131-133)
The thirteenth century "Beatus" map shows Paradise from which
flows the four rivers: the Ganges, the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Based on the Judeo-Christian belief in Adam and Eve's banishment from
the Garden of Eden, this map places Paradise in Southeast Asia. (Suarez,
Medieval European maps,
showing the Judeo-Christian belief in the bansishment of Adam and
Eve from Paradise due to Original Sin, depict Southeast Asia as
the site of the Biblical Eden. This early 13th century "Beatus"
map shows four rivers which were believed to flow from there, the
Ganges, Nile, Tigris and Euphrates. The islands of Chryse and Argyre
are shown directly off the coast of Paradise. Travelers' accounts
of Southeast Asia reinforced this idea.
"Within this wall there
were the fairest and most crystal fountains in the whole world:
and about the said fountains there were the most beautiful virgins
in great number, and goodly horses also, and in a word, everything
that could be devised for bodily solace and delight, and therefore
the inhabitants of the country call the same place by the name of
(Suarez, p. 69-70)
teacher's map as a guide, help students label the major trading centers
from the Mediterranean to Southeast Asia during the first century A.D.
The grid map is provided for students to enlarge the map for a wall display.
These trading centers (or entrepots) will be the bases for the
It is important to introduce the geography
of the spice routes into the context of the ancient world. Most students
know the location of China and India, but many will be unfamiliar with
the geography of Southeast Asia.
As a teaching aid for this unit, the class
will construct a large wall map for the study of the trading network.
This can be a math activity in enlargement or the map can be made using
an overhead projector (with map on transparency) traced onto butcher paper
attached to the wall. Label oceans and rivers.
To identify major centers of trade along the maritime spice route,
introduce the term entrepot. To define the word, ask students,
"What physical factors would make a good trading center? What other
characteristics can they recognize? (Answers will include a varity of
things we associate with port cities such as Oakland or Long Beach). Use
the definition of entrepot to expand their understanding of this
term. (See vocabulary.)
Guide students to label their maps to show
the following entrepots:
- Alexandria (Roman)
- Aromata (East Africa)
- Musa (Arabia)
- Barygaza (India)
- Muziris (South India)
- Oc Eo (Cambodia)
- Cattigara (China)
What geographic factors made these locations
the logical sites for entrepots in ancient times? (The sites are near
major rivers where cities were already located. They are destinations
affected by the monsoon winds). Do you notice any places shown on the
ancient maps seen earlier?