Claudius Ptolemy

Roman geographer and mathematician Claudius Ptolemy (c. 100 – 170 CE) solidified geography as an independent discipline.

The Ptolemaic understanding of the world stems from Ptolemy’s seminal work, Geographia. Initially intended to revise and critique another (now lost) geography written by Marinus of Tyre, Ptolemy compiled Geographia in Alexandria around 150 CE. It consisted of a treatise on world geography, instructions on making maps, and a topographically-anchored gazetteer. It forms the basis of scientific cartography: a coordinate-based system meant that future cartographers (even many centuries later) could recreate its maps using the published data. The work covered an area from the Canary Islands in the west to the coasts of China and Korea in the east.

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