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Cartography and Maps

Old maps provide us with information about what was known in times past, as well as the philosophy and cultural basis of the era, which were often much different from modern cartography. Maps are one means by which scientists distribute their ideas and pass them on to future generations. Maps became increasingly accurate and factual during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries with the application of scientific methods. Many countries undertook national mapping programs in that era. Printing with engraved copper plates appeared in the 16th century and continued to be the standard until photographic techniques were developed. Major advances in cartography took place during the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. Map makers responded with navigation charts, which depicted coast lines, islands, rivers, harbors, and features of sailing interest. Compass lines and other navigation aids were included, new map projections were devised, and globes were constructed. Such maps and globes were held in great value for economic, military, and diplomatic purposes, and so were often treated as national or commercial secrets.

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