Columbus Day

14 Oct
As always, if you would like to use any of the photos seen here on the blog please contact ahsref@azhs.gov for information on image reproduction.

Detail of one of our larger world maps. To view this map, come into the archives during our open hours and ask for: G3290 1586 A4 198u MAP. As always, if you would like to use any of the photos seen here on the blog please contact ahsref@azhs.gov for information on image reproduction.

Today is Columbus Day which means the Arizona Historical Society Library and Archives in Tucson is closed.

The map above is not ancient. It was printed sometime in the 1980s. It is, however, a copy of a much older map. Making prints of old maps is quite common. Cartography was, and in many ways still is, an art form. Making maps in those long ago times meant having a sense of style and a flair for illustration. Take a closer look at this picture, or come in and view the map in person. There are some amazing creatures pictured on the map above and the side illustration and portraits are done with great attention to detail. These details are what makes these maps, and prints of them, so popular even today. This one is particularly interesting when you take the time to compare the shape of the continents to the much more accurate maps of today. Map making is definitely an art and with an ever-growing collection of over 4,000 maps we see a lot of the cartographic arts here at the Historical Society!

If your kids have the day off school today, why not take a page from the great old cartographers? Make a map! Supply paper and coloring utensils and let the kids make a map of the house or the yard. Steep some tea bags for 30 seconds to a minute and then remove them from the hot water and drag them along the finished maps. This will stain the paper and give them an authentic treasure map look. Make sure to let them dry fully before handling again. You could even give each person a “treasure” (like a candy bar or small toy) to hide and then have them draw a map to it. When everyone’s finished, switch maps and go looking for buried treasure. Bonus points if you’re all wearing pirate eye patches!

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