Herodotus was a Greek historian from the 5th century BC, known as the father of history, because he was the first to treat historical issues as an interrogation method. He traveled in Europe, Asia, and North Africa, gathered information from people he met, and documented his findings in his great treatise Histories, which provides a detailed picture of the cultures of his time. According to his descriptions, the map of the world was also drawn. Greek civilization is at the center of his worldview, his writings and maps, and his narrative is a unified geo-historical.
The most prominent feature of the map is that it is in the shape of a human head or a skull. There is no doubt that this form was before Herodotus' eyes when he described the map of the world, and in ancient times the head served as a direct source of inspiration for the mapping of the earth. The land was accepted as the organs, and the seas and river were accepted as the head's hollow parts. The map was integrated into the Pythagorean discovery from that time of the Earth is in the shape of a sphere.
Some of the parallels between the human head and the map of the world are:
- Africa is the jaw
- Europe is the forehead and nose
- Asia is the head's back
- The Mediterranean is the oral cavity
The eastern Mediterranean coast, part of which is part of Israel, is at the heart of the map, but Herodotus describes it only briefly, as if it were between Greece, Persia and Egypt. He has seven references to the region, which he calls Syria-Palestine. The peoples inhabiting the area are: the Phoenicians in the north, the Syrians on the eastern side of the Jordan, the Palestinian Syrians who are apparently Jews in the Land of Israel, and the Egyptians in the south.
The concept of the map can be dated to the time of Homer, around 1000 B.C. and probably before.
Herodotus contemporaries, notably the influential Ptolemy, used this concept almost until the mapping of America in the 16th century.
These cartographers placed the 'head' on a sphere, added distances, longitudes and latitudes, climate zones, new lands, info-graphic maps and so on, but the basic shape remained the same. There are many versions of this map on similar lines.
|The world map of Herodotus in the shape of the human head|
The intuitive concept of Planet Earth as a head continued in the 'Age of Discoveries', when the globe replaced the flat map and many new land and sea forms were discovered. The new land forms which had also anthropomorphic shape, such as Africa abd the Baltic Sea, were integrated into the big picture while maintaining their character.
In our time, the outer space replace the ocean that enveloped the map in the past.
The abundance of information about our planet make it necessary to simplify it into an intimate knowledge.
It is important to point out that during the Middle Ages there was a gradual shift from this concept to the concept of the world as an entire human body, including torso, arms and legs.
The influence came from the Church, which wished to include the character of Jesus Christ in the formal world view. Subconsciously it prepared the way for the discovery of America, which has almost an exact shape of the entire human body.
The idea of other continents came from the Greek cartographers, who calculated that there should be another land mass in the other side of the sphere, in order to balance it.
The combination of the old world as 'head' and the new world as 'body' can be described as perfect. It can be adapted into the common perception of anatomy.
China, in eastern Asia, 'played' its role as the back part of the 'head'. It did so while considering itself as the center of the world. The Chinese ancient world concept was of an abstract mandala, which fit to the functions of the mind's back.
All the classic world empires had practical maps too, specially for lands ownership. While being simple, they too were inspired by the world view of their cartographers.