How Did They Make Maps in Ancient Times?

Maps have been an integral part of human civilization since ancient times. They allowed people to navigate and explore new territories, as well as chart their own lands. However, the question remains: how did they make maps in ancient times?

Early Maps

The earliest maps were made by ancient civilizations such as the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks. These maps were often simple sketches of local areas, highlighting important landmarks such as rivers, mountains, and cities.

Babylonian Maps

Babylonian maps used a unique system called a grid system to map out their cities. They would divide their city into sections and create a grid-like pattern to map it out. This allowed them to keep track of each section and make sure that everything was in its proper place.

Egyptian Maps

Egyptian maps were often created on papyrus scrolls and depicted the Nile River and its surrounding areas. These maps were not drawn to scale but provided a general idea of what the area looked like.

The Age of Exploration

During the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries, cartography (the study of map-making) flourished. Explorers such as Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, and Vasco da Gama created detailed maps of the new lands they discovered.

Portolan Charts

One type of map that became popular during this time was the portolan chart. These charts were highly accurate navigational tools that showed coastlines, harbors, and other important features for sailors. They were created using compasses and dividers to measure distances accurately.

Mercator Projection

Another significant development during this time was the Mercator projection. This type of map projection allowed for accurate navigation across long distances by creating a rectangular grid that preserved angles and directions.


From the simple sketches of ancient civilizations to the highly accurate maps of the Age of Exploration, map-making has come a long way. Today, we have access to advanced technology that allows for satellite imagery and 3D modeling, but the basic principles of cartography remain the same. Maps are essential tools for navigation, exploration, and understanding our world.