Ptolemy’s maps: the father of modern Geography
Jerry Brotton, author of a new book on the history of mapmaking, introduces a second-century geographer whose legacy can be traced to Christopher Columbus and even Google Earth
Ask any geographer to name one individual responsible for founding their discipline, and they are likely to answer: “Ptolemy”. Claudius Ptolemaeus (c100 AD–c170) lived in second-century Alexandria, where he wrote the Geographike hyphegesis (c150), known today simply as the Geography. It defined geography, explained how to draw a world map, and offered a gazetteer of over 8,000 locations in the known world.