No Canon In Historiography?

Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
I am wondering why there is no standard canon for mapmaking of Historical states?

For example some empire maps include and inglobate whole deserts or unhinabited regions( Example nomadic empires ) , while others only limit to portraying "colonized" and urbanized areas ( Example Roman empire ).

Who is actually producing those maps, and based on what background or features?
 
Sep 2016
590
天下
Historical atlases typically have authors listed on the cover and second page. So, I would consult that first.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,573
Dispargum
Maps are a graphic form of communication. Any communication has a message. The cartographer draws the map in the manner best suited to convey that message. Optiminzing one message necessarily minimizes other potential messages. It's not much different than a biography of Winston Churchill that emphasizes his literary accomplishments will minimize his political achievements or vice versa. Maps intended to convey different messages will be drawn differently.
 
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Kotromanic

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,008
Iowa USA
So , the moral is that anyone can do as he likes?
This is not the right subforum for a briefing on Kantian ethics?

As was said earlier maps are a very "elastic" communication channel. Regarding your precise question, Dostoevsky had a lot of great narrative to offer in reply. :deadhorse:
 

Tsar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
2,010
Serbia
The state border as a line is generally a 19th century invention. Prior to that, the border in most cases went like "I have a village A, you have a village B, and anything in between is borderlands". As nobody really cared for biomes like deserts and unreachable mountains, they were practically no man's lands. So, Sahara was a no man's lands, for example.

Now, there aren't strict rules how to draw a border then. Most, if not all, cartographers will simply try to draw the border somewhere between villages A and B, usually at some characteristic and well-defined landmark (top of the mountain, river etc. Let's take a map as an example:



Here you can see that the Ottoman-Austrian border went on the Sava and the Danube rivers (green vs other colors). The map completely disregards the reality: the swamps and marches of those two rivers were so huge that their surrounding was completely uninhabited and that the real rulers of those areas were river pirates.

Similar things one can say about the deserts: someone will draw southern Ottoman borders in the Maghreb close to the coast, while some nutcase will incorporate entire Sahara. Both of them are kind of right: while the Ottomans realistically controled only coast and some hinterlands, nobody else claimed Sahara.

History is not exact, and you'll have to deal with it.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,573
Dispargum
So , the moral is that anyone can do as he likes?

The cartographic process is not inner-driven. It's not driven by the cartographer's personal agenda, not his or her feelings, nor emotions. It's not a form of self-expression. The map is determined by external criteria. The cartographer applies the first rule of design - Form follows function. The cartographer first asks, 'What is this map supposed to do?' The answer to that question determines how the map is drawn. If we were to change the function, the same cartographer would draw a different map.
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,573
Dispargum
Excellent point, Tsar. Not only are black line borders a 19th century convention, its also a European convention. Most of the world at one time or another was exposed to European influence, but there are one or two places where European influence is very small. You can still see this on some maps of the Arabian Penninsula. The borders between Saudia Arabia, and Yemen, or Saudi Arabia and Oman, and other Arabian borders as well, are often not marked with a black line. There might be a color change from one country to the other, but often there will be no black line. Instead there might be a note that reads "Border Undefined." The idea that 'this side of the line is mine and that side is yours' is a European idea. In Arabia, no one cares who owns the desert. It's just worthless sand. The valuable land is where the water is. That's where the cities grew. Beyond a certain distance from the closest watering hole, no one cares who owns what anymore.
 
Sep 2016
590
天下
The cartographic process is not inner-driven. It's not driven by the cartographer's personal agenda, not his or her feelings, nor emotions. It's not a form of self-expression. The map is determined by external criteria. The cartographer applies the first rule of design - Form follows function. The cartographer first asks, 'What is this map supposed to do?' The answer to that question determines how the map is drawn. If we were to change the function, the same cartographer would draw a different map.
Yes, form follows the function, but especially on the internet I found maps pushing certain agenda or showing biases. If the premise of the map is biased, can we really say that the cartographer is not driven by anything?