An atlas is a collection of maps, traditionally bound into book form, but now found in multimedia formats. As well as geographic features and political boundaries, many often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics.
The first book that could be called an atlas was constructed from the calculations of Claudius Ptolemy, a Greek geographer working in Alexandria circa A.D. 150. The first edition was published in Bologna in 1477 and was illustrated with a set of 27 maps, though scholars say that it is not known whether the printed maps were engraved versions of original maps made by Ptolemy, or whether they were constructed by medieval Greek scholars from Ptolemy's text.
The origin of the term atlas is a common source of misconception, perhaps because two different mythical figures named 'Atlas' are associated with mapmaking. King Atlas, a mythical King of Mauretania, was, according to legend, a wise philosopher, mathematician and astronomer who supposedly made the first celestial globe. However, the more widely known Atlas is a figure from Greek mythology.
Cartography or mapmaking is the study and practice of making representations of the Earth on a flat surface. The discipline of cartography combines science, aesthetics, and technical ability to create a balanced and readable representation that is capable of communicating information effectively and quickly. Cartographic representation involves the use of symbols and lines to illustrate geographic phenomena. This can aid in visualizing space in an abstract and portable format.
Functioning as tools, maps communicate spatial information by making it visible. Spatial information is acquired from measurement of space and can be stored in a database, from which it can be extracted for a variety of purposes. Current trends in this field are moving away from analog methods of mapmaking and toward the creation of increasingly dynamic, interactive maps that can be manipulated digitally.
Nicolaes Witsen (8 May 1641 - 10 August 1717) was a Dutch diplomat, cartographer, writer and thirteenth mayor of Amsterdam between 1682-1706. He was a representative to the States-General, administrator of the VOC and extraordinary-ambassador extraordinaris to the English court. Witsen was an authority on shipbuilding and his books on the subject are important sources on Dutch shipbuilding in the 17th century.
Nicolaes Witsen was the son of Cornelis Jan Witsen, mayor of Amsterdam, head bailiff and administrator of the Dutch West India Company. Witsen published the first map of Siberia, and in 1692 a treatise titled "Noord en Oost Tartaryen", describing Siberia and the surrounding areas.
||And then I went to bed, and went to sleep, and slept soundly, and the next morning I sent for the chief engineer of the War Department (our map-maker), and I told him to put the Philippines on the map of the United States (pointing to a large map on the wall of his office), and there they are, and there they will stay while I am President!
—President William McKinley
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