Sarah Brumble is a Senior Editor at Atlas Obscura. When not sailing through shark-infested waters, walking into Nigeria, or visiting almost every state in the Union, she tarries forth armed with a dry sense of humor and an unreliable camera to record the curious aspects of life’s daily adventures. Of her many and varied pursuits, Sarah can most often be found sweating profusely in the wordsmith’s forge, ogling furniture, and riding her bicycle.
If Merriam-Webster defines geography as “a science that deals with the description, distribution, and interaction of the diverse physical, biological and cultural features of the earth’s surface,” and cartography as “the science or art of making maps,” my interests lie in where locating one’s position in the world becomes an art, and how that artistic pursuit has drastically changed over time.
In the past, figuring out one’s place in the world was very individual-centric. Ancient mapping technologies (now virtually extinct!) practiced by indigenous cultures around the globe focused on producing three-dimensional, tactile maps depicting only the information most pertinent for the task at hand. They were well-designed works of art that made the most of all five of the user’s senses.
Inhabitants of the Marshall Islands, Polynesia, and Micronesia used open-woven coconut fronds and strings to create depictions of island chains and the major ocean swells in relation to tides. Usually the stick maps were so personalized that it was up to the individual who created it to use it 100% accurately.
Continue reading Sarah’s full post on the Atlas Obscura blog!