Cartography is an ancient urge. Humans made maps long before they invented writing. But whereas the origin of the written word can be pinpointed with some certainty to the Middle East at the end of the fourth millennium BC , no such archaeological consensus exists over the age and location of the world’s oldest map.
The problem, with each candidate piece of scratched or painted rock: Is it ritual abstraction, or realistic depiction? In other words, when does the shaman become a mapmaker? The answers to that question vary wildly. The oldest examples of mapmaking are also the most debatable, probably because cartographer and augurer are still joined in Siamese twinship.
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