Magical History Tour

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It’s always cool to see those. With kids I have fun to asking who is good at finding places on maps, before putting up one of these T-in-O style maps and asking them to find the United States.

I think al-Idrisi put Africa on top in all his maps?

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I think so…

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In the same way that Europeans used to put the Middle East on top? Put the most important reference at the highest point? He was from North Africa, and it was a source of wealth? For Europeans, it was Jerusalem?

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Yep. I think showing that to kids is a great reminder that maps are always political, and not necessarily true representations of what land actually looks like.

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For sure. It’s always a fun discussion. “What is a map for?” “Finding things!!” “Really?! Who here is good at finding things on a map? Come on up and I’ll put a map up on the screen.”

Sometimes this is preceded with a picture of a McDonald’s advertisement, asking who goes to McDonald’s, does the Big Mac ever look like this? Why not? Yes, it’s an advertisement!

Then: OK, what about this? What is trying to advertise? How is it “not real?”

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Download

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So we still talk of “orienting” our maps, even though we now align them with North rather than East.

A south-on-top map can be rather disorienting. :wink:

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A deeply flawed article, but lots of interesting historical trivia!

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