The idea of the world may be common to all societies; but different societies have very distinct ideas of the world and how it should be represented.

As the products of both art and science, maps are often fascinating interpretations of the perceived world. They are about data and spatial awareness, but also about money, empire and discovery. They tend to reveal more about the mapmakers than the lands they chronicle. Mr Brotton may fall short of providing the promised “history of the world”, but he offers plenty of good reasons to see old maps as windows to lost times.

A History of the World in Twelve Maps. By Jerry Brotton