Atlas

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For other uses, see Atlas (disambiguation).
Imperii Orientalis et Circumjacentium Regionum by Guillaume Delisle (1742)

An atlas is a collection of maps; it is typically a map of Earth or a region of Earth, but there are atlases of the other planets (and their satellites) in the Solar System. Furthermore, atlases of anatomy exist, mapping out the human body or other organisms.[1] Atlases have traditionally been bound into book form, but today many atlases are in multimedia formats. In addition to presenting geographic features and political boundaries, many atlases often feature geopolitical, social, religious and economic statistics. They also have information about the map and places in it.

Etymology[edit]

Frontispiece of the 1595 atlas of Mercator

The use of the word atlas in a geographical context dates from 1595 when the geographer Gerardus Mercator published Atlas Sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura. (Atlas or cosmographical meditations upon the creation of the universe, and the universe as created.) This title provides Mercator's definition of the word as a description of the creation and form of the whole universe, not simply as a collection of maps. The volume that was published posthumously one year after his death is a wide-ranging text but, as the editions evolved, it became simply a collection of maps and it is in that sense that the word was used from the middle of the seventeenth century. The neologism coined by Mercator was a mark of his respect for King Atlas of Mauretania whom he considered to be the first great geographer and it is that King who is portrayed on the frontispiece of the 1595 edition, however, by the time of the 1636 edition, the frontispiece image had become the Titan Atlas supporting the globe.[2]

History[edit]

The first work that contained systematically arranged woodcut maps of uniform size, intended to be published in a book, thus representing the first modern atlas, was De Summa totius Orbis (1524–26) by the 16th-century Italian cartographer Pietro Coppo. Nonetheless, this distinction is conventionally awarded to the Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius who in 1570 published the collection of maps Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

Types[edit]

A travel atlas is made for easy use during travel, and often has spiral bindings so it may be folded flat (for example Geographers' A-Z Map Company famous A-Z Atlases). It has maps at a large zoom so the maps can be reviewed easily. A travel atlas may also be referred to as a road map.[3]

A desk atlas is made similar to a reference book. It may be in hardback or paperback form.

Modern atlas[edit]

With the coming of the global market, publishers in different countries can reprint maps from places made elsewhere. This means that the place names on the maps often use the designations or abbreviations of the language of the country in which the feature is located, to serve the widest market. For example, islands near Russia have the abbreviation "O." for "ostrov", not "I." for "island". This practice differs from what is standard for any given language, and it reaches its extremity concerning transliterations from other languages. In particular, German mapmakers use the transliterations from Cyrillic developed by the Czechs, which are hardly used in English-speaking countries.

World Atlas published by Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography, Croatia

Selected atlases[edit]

Main article: List of atlases

Some cartographically or commercially important atlases include the following:

17th century and earlier
18th century
19th century
20th century
21st century

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schwartz, John (2008-04-22). "The Body in Depth". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-05-07. 
  2. ^ Mercator's own account of the reasons for choosing King Atlas are given in the preface of the 1595 atlas. A translation by David Sullivan is available in a digital version of the atlas published by Octavo. The text is freely available at the New York Society Library Archived March 10, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., pdf page 104 (corresponding to p34 of Sullivan's text).
  3. ^ "Road map". Merriam Webster. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 

External links[edit]

Sources
Online atlases
History of atlases
Historical atlases online
Other links