Geography and cartography: old methods recovered, new worlds discovered

The complex relationship between the revival of ancient knowledge (known as 'the Renaissance') and the rapid accumulation of new knowledge (which inaugurates modern European history) is particularly evident in the domains of cartography and geography. On the one hand, the voyages of Columbus, Vasco da Gama, Magellan, and many others quickly and emphatically rendered the geographical authority of the ancients obsolete. On the other hand, the recovery, translation, and reconstruction of the chief cartographic work of antiquity, Ptolemy's Geographia, provided a new mathematical framework within which the rapidly accumulating geographical discoveries resulting from these voyages could be organised, depicted, and disseminated. The consequence was to make maps and globes characteristic new symbols of European power and knowledge.