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The convention was established by Ptolemy (AD 90 – c. AD 168) in his main work, Geography. The following is a 15th century reconstruction of Ptolemy's world map: It's an arbitrary decision, and several reversed maps exist. There are also maps that don't follow a standard orientation, some examples are T and O maps, polar maps, and Dymaxion/Fuller maps. ...


Realistically speaking a reasonably knowledgeable Japanese person would've been able to spot Japan on a world map, based on the islands' relative position to Korea and China. This is probably true since at least the 400s. They were, after all, able to engage in extensive trade and diplomacy with the mainland. Their grasp of geography couldn't be that far off ...


The first satellite image of Earth was taken in 1959. At that time, as far as I can tell, aerial photography and stereoplotters were used to produce topographic maps with accuracy that I imagine would have depended mostly on the quality of the aerial photographs, but probably down to a few meters. For larger maps depicting the Earth, I think the answer ...


Some maps from some UK universities


The maps were almost as accurate as they are after the launch of satellites. And this has little to do with air photography. And celestial navigation ("sextants" hinted in the previous message) was responsible only for mapping of remote islands. The main method of making accurate maps was geodesic survey. One begins with laying a base, that is measure ...


General answer: it will probably depend what you define as "the shape". Ultimately, once landfall was made on opposite coasts (1820-1840), and land was proven to be there, it was a matter of looking at all the places a ship had sailed through without hitting anything, concluding that the coastline must be further south than that, and drawing in a dotted line ...

8 This is by far the best map website, it has maps from 1AD to 2000AD.


Here are some sites that I like: • Historical maps, University of Texas (more to come)


So, in researching the link from sbi, I think he's got one piece of the puzzle, but there seem to be a few more. Juan de Fuca (the same guy from whom the straits around Vancouver Island / the Seattle area are named), had claimed to have found a Northwest Passage Sailors from the south had also found the Gulf of Baja California, and frankly its big - so big ...


I realise I am very late in answering this, but I cannot stress this enough: the best source by far for historical maps that I have ever found, is David Rumseys amazing online collections I would also like to point you in the direction of this book; Cartographies of Time though it might be more time-space related than what you are looking for.


A very interesting question, as it turns out. The coast of Antarctica wasn't definitively sighted until about 1820, so no globe until then would have featured it. I found this pocket globe made by Abel Klinger in I believe 18801 that shows the barest outline of some of the coast of Antarctica. Examining some globes from the same manufacturer in 1855, I can'...


National Geographic is generally considered the premier map maker since the inception of the society over a hundred years ago. The National Geographic 1970 World Map probably answers your question of "What was the most accurate map of the Earth before satellites?" Note that the premise of your question may be off kilter. In most cases it is not the accuracy ...


Detailed Topographical Maps of Bavaria, including complete coverage at 1:50,000 scale during or near the Napoleonic Wars, are available here:


The ODP has an entry for historical maps. (The ODP is a directory/catalogue for websites)


According to Wikipedia, this might be based on the romance novel Las sergas de Esplandián by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, which contains the first written mentioning of the Island of California. It is probable that this description prompted early explorers to misidentify the Baja California peninsula as the island in these legends.

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