The name and logo of our website (T-O-Maps.com) refer to ancient cartographic representations of the known world. It’s a very generalized image at which the letter T is placed inside the letter O. The area outside the circle represents the oceans (and heavens); the 3 parts inside the circle are the then known “old” continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. The top of the map is faced to the East. Most T-O maps date back to the middle ages and were only used to illustrate (religious) text books. The large medieval Mappa Mundi, e.g. the one in Hereford Cathedral (UK), are based on the T-O concept.
The website was launched in 2016, exact 500 years after the famous cartographer Martin Waldseemuller had produced an improved version of his original 12 sheet world map (1507). This second map, the so-called Carta Marina, was the first European world map that abandoned the classical ideas of Ptolemy and incorporated ‘modern’ charting techniques provided by Portuguese and other explorers.
Cartography is the science and technology of making maps. Its purpose is to store, analyse and visualize spatial related information. As geographers describe the earth, cartographers visualize it. In ancient and medieval times cartography was often seen as a form of art and a way to express religious and political views. But it has gradually evolved into an ‘exact’ information and communication science. The "Theatre of (Old) Maps" recorded in our e-Atlases is therefore not just a visual tour showing the history of countries. It also marks the most important discoveries and advancement in technology of mankind. From inventions such as the magnetic compass and printing press to modern mapping techniques like satellite remote sensing.