Maps have played a critical role in the evolution of human society. This lesson from OSI discusses the history of mapping and outlines the various techniques utilised. The mathematics of triangulation is explained and the great Irish survey of the mid 19th century is described.
Contains the full lesson along with a supporting toolkit, including teachers’ notes.
What is a map?
A dictionary defines a map as a representation of an area, usually on a flat surface. A map can be as simple as a sketch on the back of an envelope showing where the treasure is buried with no clue other than a shaky outlined island and an ‘x’ marking the spot. It can be detailed enough to precisely identify individual buildings, trees, soil types, or any other feature of interest. In this lesson we look at the evolution of mapping and mapping technologies and also at the great Irish survey of 1824 1842.
Early users of maps
Rudimentary maps have probably always been used. Star maps appear in the Lascaux caves (17,300 years old). Babylonian m aps f rom 2 300 BC depict settlements, crop fields and irrigation sources on clay tablets. Mesopotamian maps of a round 1 600 BC s how cities and tracks between fields and the built-up areas. In China around 240 BC maps were carved on plates. Polynesians wove intricate palm leaf mats showing tides, currents and islands; North Americans carved images of coastlines on bones.
To read the full lesson, download the pdf above.
A rope stretcher was a mechanism for stretching ropes.
A quadrant is a sighting instrument.
The compass was known to the ancient Greeks.
A total station incorporates a telescope.
Triangulation was known to the ancient Greeks.
In triangulation a new baseline is required each time a new region is to be mapped.
Science and Technology in Action (STA) is designed to support the teaching and learning of science and related subjects.
Each annual edition of STA contains a set of lessons that are industry led to be used by all teachers in second level schools. These lessons are available on this website and can be downloaded in a pdf format along with their supporting materials.
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