Latitude2003: History of Cartography and Navigation 

                 Real Sea Monsters!                Outrigger Sail from the Polynesian Voyaging  Society                  Why the Oceans Matter
          History 424

Navigation and cartography changed more rapidly between 1400 and 1600 than in any other period before the late twentieth century. Sailors learned to navigate on open oceans without benefit of either trade winds or currents. Cartographers discovered how to accurately map new coastlines, and to project the entire globe on giant (2 meter) canvases. The sciences of celestial navigation, cartography, and terrestrial magnetism all were born in a forty year period (1470-1510).

A tiny kingdom perched on the westernmost edge of Europe, Portugal, was the birthplace of these and many more innovations  including the nautical astrolabe, the standard compass rose, and the latitude scale on maps. Much of the evidence of this history disappeared in the earthquake and fiery aftermath that devastated Lisbon and Sagres on Palm Sunday, April 1755. Knowledge  further disappeared with British disinformation spread during the next century as British cartographers and scientists replaced earlier Portuguese standards with their own.

This course will evaluate these Portuguese (and often Sephardic) achievements by comparing them to those of the great navigators and mapmakers of other cultures--the Polynesian voyagers, the desert nomads of Arabia and Australia, the monsoon sailors of the Indian Ocean, and the coastal-huggers of northern Europe.


Week 1: Introduction Tour the Website, Rare maps and secret pictures from inside a Portuguese palace. 

Week 2:  Sailing by the Stars: The Best Traditional Celestial Navigators
and Micronesia Sept. 7 AraKaTitiro (RealAudio)
Understanding Star Maps: the Figure 8

Week 3Other Traditional Celestial Navigators: Lakota Travels & Star Knowledge : How Lakota Star Knowledge Relates to Modern Astronomy : The Skidi PawneeRomans, Arabs and Persians in the NW quadrant of the Indian Ocean; George Bass, ed. History of Seafaring (Roman & other Mediterranean sailing)

Week 4:The Midnight Sun Navigators Vikings, Danes, Swedes, (Tak) Icelanders

Other Sources: Gwyn Jones, A History of the Vikings; Else Roesdahl, The Vikings; The Saga of King Hrolf Kraki (for Beowulf fans). S. A. Saugmann, Vikingernes tidsregning og kursmetode. Just for Fun: Slightly addictive on-line Viking tactical game | Swedish replicas Week 5: Magnetic Navigators: Aborigines of Australia, the Chinese 1st Century B.C. Math  13th Century Chinese Math  Origin SE Asia Trade
The South Asian Tradition 7th Century South Asian Mathematics

Week 6: The Ocean: Terrestrial Magnetism (origin of the nautical astrolabe) Magnetism (intro); Historic changes 1841-1960 measure in Boulder, Colorado, Moscow, Kyoto, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Bombay; Houston's Magnetic Declination; Hourly Changes in the North!

Week 7:The Astrolabe and Medieval Arab Science; An Astrolabe; Contemporary Reproductions; Make a Local Astrolabe

Week 8: The Ocean, Tides and Currents 

Week 9: Why is the U.S.'s time standard our Naval Observatory?  Sundials and the Measurement of Time Sundials on the Internet What is a Calendar? The English Royal Observatory | The Real Standard (in Paris)

Week 10: What are Maps?  What are projections? The First Projection  The 2nd Projection Orthographic| Looking at the Projected World [ What You Really See in Space Photographs ] Earth From Space (my favorite site on the web (besides my own)

Mathematics Behind Projections | Basic (College-Level) Introduction to Projections | | Basic information (about globes) | MapMakers Glossary | Modern Math for Stereographic Projection

How many colors do you need for a map? (The Four Color Problem) JFF Mobius Strip (colored) : Torus (colored)

Map Fun (actually classroom tested by 1999 group)
Recommended Reference: Flattening the Earth: Two Thousand Years of Map Projections by John P. Snyder

Week 11:  The GIS Lab Learn Basic ArcMap 8.3 Yes, I am an open source fan, so here are the alternatives. Unfortunately I had enough Fortran as a teenager to put me off it for life. And the other programs are even less intuitive than ESRI.

Additional GIS Help: In those cases in which you have not been able to attend any of the training sessions here are a few alternatives. ESRI's Training for New Users first modules of Learning ArcGIS 9, Understanding Geographic Data, Understanding Map Projections and Coordinate Systems, Labeling in ArcMap: Tips and Tricks
and the educationally discounted ($18.00) Basic Introduction to GIS MapMaking
For those with experience in GIS Working with Geodatabase Topology , Solving Disaster Management Problems Using ArcGIS 9
(first module) for using your GIS knowledge on the Internet--Introduction to ArcWeb Services and for archis Working with CAD Drawings in ArcGIS

Alternative Understandings of Maps (David Woodward)

Week 12:  The Portulan Tradition and | A Catalan Example | The James Ford Bell Library's Collection

Week 13: History of International Shipping Lanes | Shipping to Asia | Heroin Shipping Lanes (courtesy DEA) Importance to U.S. Economy

Threats to Shipping Modern Piracy; Type of Attacks (2002); Recent Increases (check out the maps); Piracy This Week

Week 14:  Starry Night or Electric Astrolabe (computer game) (designed for tired students)


Acquire a basic understanding of GIS (instruction in week 11) (15%)

There are two options for all the other assignments: a history/literary option and an art/geography option.
History/literary option: Written (2-3) page reports, on the projects for weeks 2, 4, 6, 7 OR 9, 10 OR 12 
Art/Geography option: an original image (psd, gif, or jpeg) on the subject of the book, or an original projection or map of the voyage described.

Final project: History option: 15 page written paper on any of the subjects in the course; Art/Geography option: web pages (7) on the subject of the course OR original map or globe projection of the features of one of the oceans studied. Due the last day of finals.


Recommended Palm programs for learning celestial navigation basics:

Learn How to Tie Knots; What is the Tide Right Now? (mine is set to Rio); Sidereal Time; Astronomical Time; Sailing Distances; Making a Map for your GPS (highly recommended); GPS Calculations (general); Distances between GPS points;


Life in the Deep . . . . . . . .