MapCarte 256/365: Babylonian World Map by anon, c. 750-500 BC



The first known map of the world inscribed on a clay tablet and depicting the known world from the perspective of Babylonia. It’s a design classic because it’s the first. Someone had the idea to represent the world around them using marks on a physical object to create a map and as far as inventions goes this has to rank among the most important to humankind.

The map is circular with cuneiform labels. The two circles represent the boundary of a water body, Babylonia is toward the centre and there is an area of marshland labelled to the south. Cities, water bodies, a mountain range and numerous islands are also shown though there is debate over whether these represent real places or mythological entities.

Possibly not quite as detailed or portable as we might prefer our modern maps but for its time this is a remarkable cartographic achievement.


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