Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Power of Old Maps

This post has been delayed a while but it is better late than never. Catholicgauzette gave me an excellent Christmas gift I received after I returned from Iraq: the 1938 National Geographic map entitled "Europe and the Mediterranean." The work of art can be viewed here.

The map is wonderful for multiple reasons. First the map is done beautifully both in color and text. But the fact that it is a map makes it even better than a "normal" work of art. The map depicts the last of "classical" Europe before the time the continent was brought into the modern era by the biggest shedding of blood in the history of the world. It has a regal sadness to it like the map at the end of Last Express. The various city names and borders create a story of national epics colliding that is continued by one's knowledge of history. A third reason, and final reason for this post, is the modern-day lessons one can learn from this art work. Lessons from Romania having modern-day Moldova sans Transnistria which belongs to the Soviet Union, the various French-mandated states that make up modern day Syria include Lebanon, and there is a Palestine.

The old map is a powerful tool and a wonderful work of art. While many people throw out old maps because they are inaccurate, one must remember they still have stories to tell.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a map is worth a book. -Catholicgauze

1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Interesting map!

Europe in that age had already been hit once, and was about to be hit again. Seeing documents from that era is like watching a snuff film.

I considered 'classical' Europe to end with the rise of Republicanism in 1917-1919, but the map is clearly from a late transitional period. Yet Yugoslavia and Italy in this time still had Kings.

Very sad, and very beautiful.