Essay on Maps - Foundations for the Modern World

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The early modern period encompasses roughly 300 years of history, but within this brief period emerged the modern world as we know today. The foundations for national boundaries, the existence and confirmation of faraway continents, the establishment of colonies all took place in this period, and it was a time when globalization in the modern sense came to appear. This period was the harbinger for the interconnected society which we live in today, and it was made possible by enterprising nations and adventurous individuals who chose to navigate the known world and aggregate the knowledge of the cultures therein. The collection of knowledge was aided by the arrival of new and more accurate maps which lead the way for future generations to…show more content…
Maps have defined boundaries and helped keep peace for centuries, but as the world grew smaller due to the advent of inter-continental trade, they came to embody the globalized culture existent today. A vivid example of a map which depicted this interrelation is Father Matteo Ricci’s world map form 1602, which depicted the world in a very truthful manner. This map is important for many reasons in itself, but it was the first map of the world in Chinese, meant entirely for China’s consumption and as such held China as the center of the map. To the Chinese, Ricci's map had once a geographical value beyond computation , for it was the first time they had the opportunity to envision what the world was like beyond their borders. In contemporary maps, China always appears to the right, always to the east, but in this map of the world, it is depicted in the center, with the Americas in the east. Father Ricci noted the Sino-centric vision of the Chinese and accordingly positioned Asia in the middle of his map so that it would not be rejected by Chinese scholars. As this map was produced for the express purpose of being a western tool molded to eastern fundamentals, in essence to provide the Chinese with the capability to understand where it is that they stand in the world, as they converse with s foreigner from thousands of miles away. Edward Rothstein, of the New York Times, noted that this was the first eastern map to showcase America, pioneering in its presentation of

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