What Was the Nature of Geography in Ancient Times?

Geography, the study of the physical and human characteristics of Earth’s surface, has a long and fascinating history. In ancient times, the nature of geography was quite different from what it is today. Let’s take a closer look at how geography was studied and understood in ancient times.

Ancient Egyptians and Geography

The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to develop an understanding of geography. They lived in a region that was heavily influenced by the Nile River, so they had to be knowledgeable about its flood patterns and how to use it for irrigation.

The Egyptians made detailed maps of their land, including the location of cities, temples, and other important landmarks. They also developed a system of measuring land using units called “cubits.”

Greeks and Geography

The Greeks were another ancient civilization that made significant contributions to geography. The philosopher Thales is often credited as being one of the first people to use geometry to measure land. His student Anaximander created one of the first maps of the world, which showed Greece at the center and surrounded by water.


One of the most influential Greek geographers was Hipparchus. He is often called the “father of geography” because he created a grid system for mapping locations on Earth’s surface. This system used latitude and longitude lines to pinpoint specific locations.

Romans and Geography

The Romans also made significant contributions to geography. They were known for their extensive road network that connected all parts of their empire. This allowed them to gather information about different regions, which they recorded in detailed maps.


One Roman geographer who stands out is Ptolemy. He created a world map that included latitude and longitude lines similar to Hipparchus’ grid system but with more detail. His map was used for centuries and was considered one of the most accurate depictions of the world.


In ancient times, geography was primarily focused on mapping and understanding the physical characteristics of Earth’s surface. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all made significant contributions to this field, developing new techniques for measuring land, creating detailed maps, and sharing information about different regions.

Today, geography encompasses a much broader range of topics, including human geography and environmental geography. However, the legacy of these ancient geographers lives on in our modern understanding of the world around us.