Image+animation/creative editing by EL


Concepts >

Cartographic Heritage+Digital stream


Issues of understanding

Heritage vs History





In any case, the relevant question is still here: Was the Little Prince a map-enthusiast or a map-sceptic? - Animation EL


The term Cartographic Heritage used originally in 1999 by E. Livieratos in a relevant lecture (with M. Myridis) at the Athens 18th International
Conference on the History of Cartography


Cartographic Heritage, as a regular working terminology, entered officially the glossary
of the international cartographic community in 2005, during the A Coruña, Spain, International Cartographic Conference, when the ICA-Executive accepted the proposal by E. Livieratos for
the formation of a relevant Working Group, upgraded in the status of Commision in 2007 by the ICA General Assembly held in Moscow, Russia


The Cartographic Heritage is advanced thanks to the annual ICA Workshops Digital approaches to Cartograpic Heritage organized from 2006 by the relevant ICA Commission

Cartographic Heritage

Cartographic Heritage is a very important part of the World’s overall continuum of Cultural Heritage, containing implicitly hints of technology as exercised in the past


It concerns specifically all the valuables which are or may be inherited from historic cartography and maps. It concerns also all the cartography heirs who are the receivers of the benefits offered by cartography, maps and mapmaking of the past. Cartographic Heritage issues are thus addressed not only to experts but also to the society and to the general public. The digital approaches to Cartographic Heritage is a meeting area of modern cartography digital-mainstream with the history of cartography, maps and mapmaking


The multifaceted Cartographic Heritage, offers a variety of benefits and advantages to our modern cartographic science and technology, and to its future, enriching and strengthening the interest and concern not only of experts dedicated to cartography and maps but also of the society and of the general public. This can and should be done today taking full advantage of all the possibilities which are profusely available by modern digital information and communication technologies (ICT). In this way, the fascinating domain of our rich and profound heritage in mapping and mapmaking (as documented in the long history of cartography and maps) acquires a new dimension and broadens considerably its audience

Cartographic Heritage+ Digital stream

Bringing together the ensemble of Cartographic Heritage with the digital mainstream we not only comply with the international policies on cultural issues in the conceptual and the operational sense (e.g. most of the projects on cultural heritage financed by the European Commission obey the digital precondition) but further, we offer the grounds for the attraction of young researchers who are already familiar with digital technologies and are interested in or fascinated by History

An example of the digital impact in interpreting old maps: the case of the deformation analysis of a 16th century portolan map with respect to a modern map, implying the animation technique. See for more Livieratos 2006 - Animation EL

It is so radical the impact of the digital revolution, that Euclid's statement twenty three centuries ago, that ...everything material on earth can be described by numbers... (i.e. digits) sounds more than prophetic

The general concept-scheme of Cartographic Heritage, involving the Past and the Present, the impact of the Digital as a multiplier and its strong International character. Re: Livieratos, 50th ICA Anniversary, Berne 2009


Topics of Cultural Heritage in the general context of the Digital stream, are:

All the above topics and some others easily derivable by inter-crossing the previous, could find a potential embedding in Cartographic Heritage when associated with the Digital stream

The digital technologies in the context of Cartographic Heritage involve the harmless Digitisation of analogue Objects of cartographic heritage in 2D and 3D, preserving the geometric and colour properties of the objects and obeying digitisation sandards. The result of digitisation is then directed to Archiving, a task usually treated by relevant institutions, and to Analysis, a task usually treated by the academia and research. After archiving and analysing the digitised cartographic objects comes the Communication issue addressed mainly to the Society. The availlable information to the society coming from the sources of keeping and/or producing the information (archiving and/or analysis) should be properly filtered, in order to adapt the information on Cartographic Heritage to the interests of the users, which differs each time, according to a variety of reasons. Re: Livieratos, Berne 2009; 50th ICA Anniversary.

The above concepts, especially those relating the experts/specialists and the general public as the users with respect to the cartographic tasks and the higher or lower interaction with the users, are compatible to the known to cartographers MacEacheren's cube, in which it is summarised the degree of interaction of the users with the tasks of cartography extented to cartographic heritage as well


The MacEachren's cube

Issues of understanding

Cartographic Heritage, besides innovation and attractivity is not easy at all to approach and standardise. The fundamental difficulty is mainly of cultural nature. Here, we try to bring together two worlds of cartography: on one side the historians, the learned or the literate, those dealing with the humanistic aspect of cartography and the others who deal with the everyday cartographic practice, the scientists, the engineers and the professionals of cartography. Between these two worlds of cartography, the divergences and the discords are not new at all! Remember e.g. the conceptual difference, some centuries ago, even in the meaning at the time of the new word cartographe in French (implying for the historian of maps) and of the word cartographer in English (implying for the mapmaker). Or, further back in history, the different conception of the meaning of the phrase in Greek grafein tēn gēn (writing the earth) by Eratosthenes, Strabo or Ptolemy, because of the ambiguous meaning of grafein in ancient Greek used for both the textual and the graphical description of the earth. Of course some counterarguments are to be expected here based on some old stereotypes as e.g., that it may turn to be utopic the effort to bring together the two different worlds of people, even if at the end their subject is common or that the different roots of cultural background conducting the thinking of these two distinct groups obstacle a possible convergence on Cartographic Heritage. But even if this sort of scism is, on one hand, fully understandable, on the other hand it is more than obvious today that the dialogue and the convergence of the two worlds of cartography and maps, if well prepared, is more than a necessary conditio sine qua non which at the end offers only benefits! This obvious condition is mainly based on the apprehension of the paramount changes the digital revolution is introducing to our modern societies and cultures, and especially to the new generation's way of thinking, viewing, percepting, feeling and producing

Welcome to the Digital World!

Heritage vs History

In distinction to History of Cartography, which concerns "the continuous, methodical record of cartographic events or the study of the diachronic development of cartography or the sequence of facts related to Cartography and maps", issues which are more or less addressed to experts, Cartographic Heritage deals with "whatever valuable is inherited or is inheritable from cartography and maps considering as cartography-heirs all those who are recipients of the goods from cartography and maps", i.e. the general public! In this sense, Cartographic Heritage (as part of the overall Cultural Heritage) represents a broader domain related not only to the literate component of cartography but also to its material counterpart involving thus, issues affined to sciences and technologies. In this context, all cartographic valuables inherited or inheritable from the past and the needs of all the recipients for those valuables, constitute a new field of research and implementation which concerns not only the humanistic part of the issue (i.e. History, a highly specialized domain addressed mainly to the learned) but also the associated sciences and technologies supported by modern ICT which are mainly addressed to the general public

The animated comparison of Vermeer's map in the 17th cent. painting Soldier and Smiling Girl with the actual relevant map. See for more Livieratos, Koussoulakou 2006 - Animation EL

For info on cartography and map history see the Tony Campbell's website Map History / History of Cartography