Maps Through History
Maps Through History amnh.org
The Web is a wonderful resource for conducting research, particularly if you want to examine historical documents that might not be available in your townor even your country! For this portion of your research, you will examine historical maps to see how Western understanding of the worldand of Antarcticachanged over time.
To conduct your investigation, work as scientists dopredict what you may discover, make observations, and record what you see. Look for patterns. Afterwards, offer hypotheses to explain those patterns. Don't worry if your hypotheses are sketchy right now; any testable hypothesis is a valid starting point. When scientists test their hypothesis and discover that their observations and data do not match their hypothesis, they redefine their investigation by improving the test and gathering more data, or refining the original hypothesis based on the new data before testing again. In your investigation, you can return to the maps if you need to observe more details. Then revise your hypothesis or develop a new one based on each new round of observations.
Bring your journal and the Web research worksheet to the computer. Go to some or all of the sites listed below to find historical maps; and to find modern-day maps of the same areas. Pick one map to examine closely; then find a modern-day map of the same area to examine how map making techniquesand our understanding of the worldhave changed. As you examine the maps, use the questions below to guide your investigation. You can also use the worksheet to help structure your investigation. If you're working with a team, discuss your observations with your teammates. Remember to record in your own journal your observations (and drawings) about the development of maps of the world and of Antarctica.
If you can download the maps you use, set aside an area in the classroom to create a timeline. When you have finished studying your map, write the year in which your map was drawn on an index card. Hang this index card on the timeline and then hang your historical map beneath it.
- How did continued exploration change the look of maps?
- How did political changes affect the layout of maps?
- How and why did our understanding of Antarctica change?
- What technology was/is used to make the older/newer maps?
- Look at your historical map carefully. Describe any particular features you notice, particularly those that seem very different from modern-day maps. Comment also on the particular style used by the cartographer who created the map.
- Examine the modern-day map that depicts the same geographical area. Describe the major differences you notice.
- What are the titles of your maps and when were they drawn? What can you tell about views at that time period just from looking at the title and the map? About the technology available for each of the two maps?
- What was the cartographer's name on the historical map you chose? Look at the language the cartographer used to figure out his country of origin. What can you infer about the cartographer's world view from this information and by looking at the map itself?
- Compare your historical map to your modern-day map of the same geographical area. How accurate is the view of the world in the historical map? Explain your answer with examples of the differences.
- Describe how Antarctica appears on the map, if it does appear. (Include what it is called.) If it doesn't appear, why not?
- What did you discover about historical maps in your investigation? What did you discover about how technology and views of the world have influenced how maps are created? How has our understanding of Antarctica changed? Why has it changed?
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