Is This the Oldest Map in the World?

By Juanita Lai
June 4, 2019

Who Made It

Created by Babylonians using clay and bare hands, the Babylonian World Map, aka Imago Mundi, gives us insight on how their tribe viewed the world.

Why We Think It’s Cool

This map was discovered in the late 1800s, and it’s very likely that this is one of the oldest maps in the world. It depicts the Mesopotamian world, with Babylons in the center of it all. Although they knew the existence of other groups - such as the Egyptians and Persians - they believed they had greater significance.

The two circles encompassing around the Babylons represent the ocean, while the triangles are made to signify islands. Unlike other maps created during the same time, this one noted that there were islands beyond the sea - most believed the ocean was the end of all existing land. Some of the text translates to descriptions of mythical beasts and great heroes that roamed in these regions.

Jerry Brotton, author of A History of the World in 12 Maps, explains that “this is an early example of one of the most basic objectives of human understanding: to impose some kind of order and structure onto the vast, apparently limitless space of the known world… The Babylonian world map offers its viewers the chance to look down on the world from above, and adopt a god-like perspective on earthly creation.”

Where to Find this Vintage Map

Today, you can find this map on display at the British Museum in London, UK. If you’re planning on taking a tour through England, consider adding a visit to see this map in person during your free time!

Alternatively, if you’re interested in exploring the land where the Babylonians once roamed, check out our tours to the Middle East.

Related Trips

England History Tours

Middle East History and Culture Tours 


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