25 Antique Maps of the World
While history books detail past events that shaped the world, historic maps literally show us how the world as we know it came to be.
Sometimes, we can gain a visual of a long-gone place. Other times, we see the world through the eyes of those who had yet to discover just how far the Earth stretches. Still, others come from those brave enough to explore and charter courses for others.
We collected 25 rare antique maps of the world to give you an ancient tour that shows just how far we've come.
Sparta 400s B.C.
Using ancient text, J.D. Barbie du Bocage created this map in 1817, attempting to define what Sparta may have looked like in 400s B.C. when it was the rival city-state to Athens.
The Spartans were renowned for having boys as young as seven begin military training in a program known as the Agoge.
Sparta's Greek name was Lacedaemon, and it was found in southern Greece.
World Map 1407
In Ancient Rome, geographer Ptolemy mapped both the land and the stars during his life (100-178).
In 1407, "Geographia" translated his Greek works into Latin and reproduced Ptolemy's World Map.
World Map 1154
Moroccan geographer Muhammad al-Idrisi's created this world map in 1154.
It appeared in a collection of works entitled "Entertainment for Those Wanting to Discover the World." His maps were referred to as Tabula Rogeriana, and the text was "The Book of Roger."
Known as the creator of the modern atlas, Abraham Ortelius created the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). In it, he detailed the "Amerikas" in 1579.
It was Ortelius' work that first noted the continents fit like a jigsaw puzzle, an early reference to continental drift.
World Map 1570
This was Ortelius' map of the world that appeared within his Theatre of the World.
Middle East and the Indian Ocean 1596
As a traveler who sailed between Europe and India, Dutch Jan Huyghen van Linschoten kept track of trade routes and created this map in a collection of maps called Itinerario.
So detailed, the book was called "The Key to the East," and it led the Dutch East India Company to thrive.
This map of Virginia was created using the description provided by Captain John Smith, who created a number of maps of the new colony.
As a colonialist, Smith headed up Jamestown, Virginia, although he may be better known in modern-day for his relationship with Pocahontas and working with the Native Americans.
World Map 1730
George Matthaus Seutter was a German cartographer whose work was revered and earned him the title of being the royal cartographer to Holy Roman Emperor and Austrian Habsburg King Charles VI's court.
This double hemisphere map was created during his heyday.
Celestial Map 1675
Charting the stars, Dutch Louis Vlasblom was a doctor and mathematician who created the double hemisphere chart known as Ludovico Vlasblom.
It was published in the book, "Boeck zee-Kaardt," five years later.
Western Hemisphere 1520
Following a surge of explorations in the 1400s, Joannes Schöner created this map of the Western Hemisphere in 1520.
The German Schöner created globes out of wood, with his 1515 globe being one of the world's oldest still in existence today.
Bavaria wasn't just a region in Germany but was a kingdom that existed as its own state from Napoleonic Wars to World War I and 1918.
This map is thought to date between 1683 and 1719.
Encyclopedia Britannica printed this map of Africa in 1890, just as the Conquest of Africa began.
European nations including France, Britain, Spain and Germany sought to colonize and control the continent.
Rome First Century
So much history dates back to first-century Rome, and historians used various accounts to create this version of a map in 1570 — an ancient map of an ancient map.
There once was a time when Baja California was thought to be an island, as found in maps like this one, circa 1650.
The peninsula off the coast of mainland Mexico was incorrectly assumed to be an island even after Francisco de Ulloa proved it incorrect in 1539.
Venetian globe maker Vincenzo Coronelli created this map of Asia somewhere between 1687 and 1705.
A Franciscan monk, Coronelli also excelled in mathematics and cosmography.
Gulf of Mexico 1646
Considered the first nautical chart of the Gulf of Mexico, this 1646 map was created by Sir Rober Dudley, the very same man considered to be Queen Elizabeth I's favorite (and possible lover).
Joannis Cotovici set off from Venice, Italy, to explore the Holy Land at the end of the 16th century.
While there, he recorded and detailed his discoveries with maps and illustrations that he later published, including this map of Jerusalem, its walls and its monuments.
Washington, D.C. 1851
The District of Columbia became the capital of the United States in 1790. The Lloyd Van Derveer publishing company produced this map of the city less than 100 years later.
At that time, Georgetown was its own city.
North Pole 1741
This map of the Northern Hemisphere was drawn by Guillaume de L'Isle in 1714 and updated in 1741 by Coven's and Mortier.
It has a letter in both French and Dutch written by a Danish explorer named Monsieur Swartz. He was exploring Japan and Kamchatka for the Russian Tzar sometime between 1734 and 1740.
Northern Europe 1780
Another map of Scandinavia and northern Russia was created by French cartographer Rigobert Bonne, who served as the Royal Cartographer of France under Louis XVI.
This map was produced by the Wells Missionary Map Company to show where railway passage could be found in Africa for missionaries looking to visit the continent and highlighting European colonies and the independent countries of Africa.
It is kept in the U.S. Library of Congress.
South Pole 1657
The Dutch cartographer Jan Jansson detailed the Southern Hemisphere. However, in 1657, exploration had yet to take place in Antarctica, and the map is incomplete.
Antarctica would be discovered by Russian explorers in 1820.
French, English and Russian Empires 1840
The French Empire began when Napoleon Bonaparte I was named the first emperor of France and continued until 1870, with the fall of the Second Empire. However, the Colonial Empire began in 1605 when France entered Quebec. It wasn't until after World War II when its colonial empire began to crumble.
Similarly, the Russian Empire began with the naming of its Tzars in 1721. It fell in 1917.
Of course, the British empire was extensive, reaching all corners of the world and was the largest empire in existence by 1913. Like France, it's empire began to fall during World War II.
Austrian and Prussia Empires 1827
Central Europe also had its own display of power in the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, depicted in this map.
The Prussians would take the German Confederation within 40 years of this map and, along with the Austrian Empire, then later the Hapsburg-controlled Austro-Hungarian Empire, would reign over much of Central Europe until their collective collapse during World War I.
Mediterranean Sea 1570
Connecting Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, the Mediterranean Sea is one of the most important and historic bodies of water in the formation of Western Civilization.
This map depicts the Eastern Mediterranean Sea circa 1570.