Like great works of art, maps are unique, subjective and open to interpretation. One of the world’s first maps, a cave painting in Anatolia, Turkey, represents both map and work of art. Dating back to around 6200 BC, the ancient painting shows how homes and streets were positioned, and includes surrounding features such as a volcano. Though some claim it’s more of a painting than a map, the ancient creation contains the key elements of an effective map, including size, shape and relative distance.
Roughly 3,000 years before the first iPad, Babylonians carved a map into a tablet. This archeological treasure, which contains inscriptions and drawings that detail ancient Mesopotamia, is a great example of how a map’s inaccuracies can provide valuable insight into how a society viewed the world. For example, the Babylonian’s belief that they were the center of the universe is reflected in how Babylon is positioned at the map’s center. Though geographically inaccurate, it was one of the first maps to include details such as mountains, rivers, islands, and other countries.