Incredible Cartography in the Ancient World

The mystical Piri Reis Map.

Cartography is a skill that requires several disciplines to achieve accuracy. Skills such as mathematics, geometry, navigation and organisation, are minimum requirements for the cartographic enterprises that appear to have been executed in the ancient past. Obviously, our ancestors were not as barbaric as we describe them.

Cartography in Prehistory

The unofficial oldest map in the world was discovered in Ukraine in 1966, dating from about 11 – 12,000 B.C. Inscribed on a mammoth tusk it was found in Mezhirich, Ukraine. It has been interpreted to show a river with dwellings along a river.

The oldest map in the world.. Inscribed on mammoth tusk, Ukraine.
The oldest map in the world.. Inscribed on mammoth tusk, Ukraine.

What may be one of the oldest authenticated maps in the world, is dated to approximately 6000 BC, and was unearthed in an archaeological excavation at Catal Huyuk in west-central Turkey in 1963. Its subject matter was the Neolithic town it was found in.

Painted on a wall, it showed the streets and houses in plan form, lying beneath the profile of the mountain of Hazan Dag with its volcano erupting.
Painted on a wall, it showed the streets and houses in plan form, lying beneath the profile of the mountain of Hazan Dag with its volcano erupting.

The Valcamonica Valley already has over 300,000 recognised petroglyphs running from the Palaeolithic period to the  Middle-ages. Amongst the inscriptions are several images of ‘topographical compositions’, or ‘maps’. They are dated from Neolithic to early bronze-age.

The Babylonian „Map of the World“

Babylonian „map of the world“ in the British Museum, London was long claimed as the earliest extant map. The map was composed in Babylonia and is the only Babylonian map drawn on an international scale. It is a Neo-Babylonian (Persian Period, circa 500 BC) copy of an original dating to the Sargonid Period, circa late eighth or seventh century BC.


The clay tablet is a drawing and textual description of the Babylonian cosmos. It is oriented to the north-west. (It is uncertain whether the accompanying cuneiform text was composed together with the map.) It is the only known map of the world dating from the Neo-Babylonian Period. All other maps have a purely local focus.

It depicts a „bird’s-eye“ view of the world and shows a flat, round world with the city of Babylon in the center. With the rise to political supremacy of the Babylonian kings, from the early 2nd-millennium onwards, it was possible for Babylon to claim the central position and replace Nippur as the centre of the universe.

The text (on both sides of the tablet) shows that the map attempts to depict the entire world. The emphasis on distant places in the text accompanying the map indicates that the likely purpose of the map was to locate and describe distant regions.

The map has a definite orientation – it is inclined. The orientation is such that that the northwest is at the top. Thus the Babylonian system of orientation did not follow the perpendicular plane – north, west, south, and east – of our Western cardinal points. The Babylonian system of orientation was based upon the prevalent winds. The northwest wind was sent from the goddess Ishtar and was a favourable wind.



The Map of the Creator

This seems to be impossible. Scientists of Bashkir State University have found indisputable proofs of an ancient highly developed civilization’s existence. The question is about a great plate found in 1999, with a picture of the region done according to an unknown technology.


Today’s military has almost similar maps. The map contains civil engineering works: a system of channels with a length of about 12,000 km, weirs, powerful dams. Not far from the channels, diamond-shaped grounds are shown, whose destination is unknown. The map also contains numerous inscriptions. At first, the scientists thought that was Old Chinese language. Though, it turned out that the inscriptions were done in a hieroglyphic-syllabic language of unknown origin. The scientists never managed to read it.

It seems that our ancestors were more than capable of depicting their exact location on the planet. Maybe we should start recognizing that the ancients used scientific methods that we are just starting to employ in our daily lives.

Source: Ancient Wisdom