It is an extrordinary delight to study, to looke upon a geographical map and to behold, as it were, all the remote Provinces, Towns, Citties of the world....what greater pleasure can there be...
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1621
For much of human history, maps have served as a preeminant embodiment of a particular society's understanding of the physical world. Maps are a primary medium for conveying information and ideas about space, geography, empire, distance, patterns of settlement, and route and means of movement. They record history as well, and through the precision of the data and the instruments used to delineate them, they mark technological advances. They are sophisticated means of synthesizing complex fragments of data into, at the least, visual order. They share with other forms of design the ability to depict and leave strong impressions of places not yet seen. On occasion maps transcend the didactic purposes of their delineators and publishers to become autonomous works of graphic art.