The Stories Maps Tell

Entertain the Elk talks about the history of real world maps and the design of the fantasy maps for Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia and Game of Thrones.

Throughout history, maps have always communicated ideas and stories to its audience, but what about maps of fictional worlds? In this video, I examine the maps of Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings), Narnia (The Chronicles of Narnia), and The Known World (Game of Thrones) in order to find the tiny details the mapmakers chose to include that point to their larger stories.

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Antineutrino Global Map 2015

The open source AGM2015 provides fundamental data for experiments, assists in strategic detector placement to determine neutrino mass hierarchy, and aids in identifying undeclared nuclear reactors.

Antineutrino Global Map 2015

“The open access availability of these antineutrino maps represents the next generation of cartography and gives important insights into the basic understanding about the interior of our planet.” Shawn Usman — NGA R&D

This is what Earth would look like if you could see its glow of neutrinos–from natural radioactivity mostly, but lightly dotted with nuclear reactors. Amazing map. [⋮] Continental rocks are enriched in uranium and thorium, so the continents “glow” in antineutrinos.” — @coreyspowell

Further reading

See also

Shape of things to come

AGM2015: A map of our radioactive planet

The map uses open-source geophysical data sets and publicly available international antineutrino detection observational data to depict varying levels of radioactivity on Earth.

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Urbano Monte map of the world

Urbano Monte’s remarkable 430-year-old map of the world, full of places and creatures, real and imagined

Altas Obscura: Born near Milan in 1544, Urbano Monte lived a life of leisure and luxury. For him, such freedom meant scholarship, and the accumulation of a library renowned in the region. In his early 40s, his interests turned to geography, and a mammoth 20-year effort to synthesize and consolidate everything known of the world’s geography into a few volumes. More than that, he wanted to make a planisphere map of the world “to show the entire earth as close as possible to a three-dimensional sphere using a two-dimensional surface.”

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Craft and creativity

Urbano Monte’s remarkable 430-year-old map of the world

An important and extraordinary manuscript world map drawn up on a north polar projection to form the largest manuscript map of the world at 9 by 9 feet. […] This printed version was published in 1604 on 64 plates, and is the only printed copy known.

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Subway map of ancient Roman roads

Roman Roads

Sasha Trubetskoy: It’s finally done. A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD.
Creating this required far more research than I had expected—there is not a single consistent source that was particularly good for this. Huge shoutout to: Stanford’s ORBIS model, The Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary.

I’m not a big fan of the ‘fantasy subway map’ genre, but it’s the research and real data that make this one special. I think I’m going to order the PDF to print my own! (via kottke)

See also

  • Genetic map of the UK shows which invasions created Britain’s DNABritain has a long history of invasions: over the past two millennia, various armies from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons conquered the bulk of the British Isles. A new genetic analysis of the country has revealed which invading force had the greatest impact on its DNA.
  • Mini Metros — Peter Dovak — a graphic designer and self-confessed ‘lifelong transit nerd’ — has shrunken and simplified 220 metro and light rail maps from around the world to produce this fun poster.
  • Anglo Saxon London, mapped — a map showing the London area in Anglo Saxon times (roughly speaking, 500-1066AD)
Craft and creativity

Subway-style map of Roman roads, c.125 AD

“As a geography and data nerd, I make maps in my free time, inspired by the world around me – whatever happens to be on my mind. Every now and then a map of mine becomes popular and gets publicity; those interested can see my work or get in touch through this website.” — Sasha Trubetskoy

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Anglo Saxon London Map

A map by Matt Brown at Londonist: In 2011, we put together a map showing the London area in Anglo Saxon times (roughly speaking, 500-1066AD). It’s pieced together from many resources, showing our guess at the roads, rivers, forests and marshland that characterised the region.

Anglo Saxon London Map

The main purpose was to highlight the many villages, hamlets and farmsteads whose names are still part of modern London. For example, the map shows ‘Wemba Lea’, the land belonging to a local chieftain by the name of Wemba. We know nothing about Mr Wemba, yet his name is familiar to millions, perhaps billions, through its continuation into our own times as Wembley. Similarly, Croydon is a corruption of Crog Dene, which meant something like ‘valley of the crocuses’.

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Progression and regression

Anglo Saxon London, mapped

The map comes with a few caveats. We’re attempting to show a period of several hundred years in one map. Some features might not have been present for the whole of that time span, and names changed.

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London mini metro map

Mini Metros

Peter Dovak — a graphic designer and self-confessed ‘lifelong transit nerd’ — has shrunken and simplified 220 metro and light rail maps from around the world to produce this fun poster.

Mini Metros, by Peter Dovak

In a blog post about the designs, he compares some of his minified designs to the original transit maps. Below you can see Seoul, one of the more complex examples.

Peter sells his designs as posters, magnets, mugs and more.


See also: Johnston100: a modernisation of TfL’s classic London Underground typeface

Craft and creativity

Mini Metros: Peter Dovak’s minified transport maps

“All of the cities in the project had the same requirements: they had to fit in a 120px circle (with 10px of padding), the lines had to be 3px wide with a minimum of another 3px between the next parallel line, and all diagonals had to be 45-degrees.” — Peter Dovak

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Two cartograms from Benjamin Hennig’s Views of the World website showing how the US voted in the 2016 election and how the UK voted in the EU referendum earlier this year.

Cartogram of the 2016 US election results

US Presidential Election 2016: The population-centric perspective of this map shows that Trump’s success has largely been in the more rural areas, while Clinton won more of the votes in the urban areas that stand out in the cartogram. An analysis by the Economist showed that “80% of voters who have over one square mile (2.6 square km) of land to enjoy to themselves backed Mr Trump.” […] However, despite having received more votes from the electorate, Clinton is not the winner of this election. Since the president is not directly elected, but by an electoral college of electors that the voters technically vote for, the presidential election is an indirect one and the outcome of the popular vote does not always reflect the outcome of the election.

EU referendum results cartogram

The EU Referendum: 17,410,742 people of the United Kingdom’s 65 million population voted for leaving the European Union. These are about 26.8% of the UK’s resident population, or 37.4% of the electorate in this EU referendum. It also equals 51.9% of the valid votes cast.

See also

Shape of things to come

The divided states of America: A cartogram of the 2016 election results

Benjamin Hennig is a geographer whose work looks at social inequalities, humanity’s impact on Earth, global sustainability and new the development of concepts for analysing, visualising and mapping these issues.

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