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Cartography refers to the art and science of map-making. (Mapmakers are therefore known as cartographers.) While Landians have made simple large-scale maps since the time of Connor and Brigid, it was not until LY 361, after the founding of Ship, that detailed medium-scale and small-scale maps were first designed. The first full map of The Land was completed in 885.

Due to information originally provided by God to Connor and Brigid, Landians have always known certain facts about our world, which would only be confirmed centuries later by explorers. The first and foremost of these facts is that the Land is a sphere, or more precisely an oblate spheroid. Because of this, it is impossible for any flat map displaying a very large area (a small-scale map) to be completely accurate. It is known that on Earth, there have been many methods of creating maps of the world, but thus far on the Land, there has essentially only been one: cylindrical map projection. If you imagine a cylinder wrapped around the planet, with the physical features of the planet "projected" onto the cylinder, which is then unrolled to serve as a map, you will see that the curvature of the planet cannot be precisely represented on a flat map. One or more properties (such as area, shape, direction, or distance) must be distorted. (This is a negligible concern in large-scale maps, such as those showing a single village and the area immediately around it.)

The topmost point of the planet is the "North Pole" and the bottom-most point is the "South Pole" (though the designation of "north" and "south" is essentially arbitrary, and could reasonably be reversed). Maps are divided by circles of latitude called parallels, the largest of which is the Equator, which circles the Land exactly halfway between the poles. The Equator is designated as 0° latitude, while the North pole is 90° (or 90 degrees north latitude) and the South pole is -90° (or 90 degrees south latitude). The closer the area shown on a map is to the Equator, the less distortion there is. The closer to the poles, the more distortion.

Perpendicular to the parallels are meridians, or lines of longitude. While there was no choice in which parallel would be the "central" one (the Equator), the selection of which meridian would be the "Prime" meridian (0 degrees longitude) was a bit more controversial. The earliest maps, of course, centered on First Village, which remained the case until the first world map was completed in 885. It was in fact not until this world map was being drawn that the use of latitude and longitude first began; until that time, maps had simply shown distances between villages (as well as geophysical features such as rivers, lakes, mountains, and forests). Some people thought that the new map should designate the Prime Meridian as running through First Village. However, others pointed out that if First Land and Near Land were situated on the far left of the map, the arrangement of the Land's continents would vaguely resemble the arrangement of continents on maps they'd seen of Earth. Additionally, it had been the discovery of Midds Land in 850 that had begun the series of map-making expeditions that ultimately resulted in the creation of the first world map. It was therefore suggested that the Prime Meridian should run through Ristar, the first village founded on Midds Land. However, for purposes of symmetry, the way the map was eventually oriented resulted in establishing the Prime Meridian farther east, extending through the portion of Midds Land called Cape Nose. (The far left of the map would then be 180° west longitude and the far right would be 180° east longitude.) In LY 913, there would be renewed debate about which meridian to call "Prime," when time zones were established. However, it was decided to leave well enough alone.

It is known that on Earth, there was historically tremendous difficulty in calculating longitude. On the Land, it was somewhat simpler. Though true meridians all intersect with both the north and south poles, meaning they cannot be truly parallel to each other nor perpendicular to parallels, the Landian map of the world nevertheless employs a perfect grid (or graticule) of parallel and perpendicular lines for both parallels and meridians. This naturally distorts both distance and direction, as much as does the cylindrical projection itself. But the greater scale of exploration (and map-making) that began during the Age of Sail (which began in 361) was made simpler by the invention of a spell device called an odometer in 402. While this invention was of great use to explorers and other travelers, both over land and sea, it became far more useful during the expedition that discovered Midds Land four and a half centuries later, and in the subsequent map-making expeditions between then and 885. By then, cartographers had long used magical odometers to determine distances between points, and when the lines of latitude and longitude were being drawn up, it was decided that they should accurately display distances between specific points on the map (including the locations of landmasses and villages).

While the use of odometers was invaluable in this effort, another spell device, the null-distortion map, was perhaps even more essential. It was during the 871-73 expedition to map the continent that would later be known as Far West that a Sorreter named Rhys first met a cartographer named Maxwell. Maxwell had been born in Ristar two years after the village's founding, and grew up hearing stories of the expedition that discovered Midds Land, and of the map-making exploration of Midds Land that was completed in 853, and the subsequent expedition to map the continent that would later come to be known as Elbienel. Because of his fascination with stories of exploration, Maxwell planned to become an explorer himself. To that end, he studied with a master cartographer, completing his education in time to join a new expedition in 871, to map the continent that would later come to be known as Far West. Maxwell happened to complain to Rhys about the impossibility of creating a map that accurately displayed all characteristics of the areas being mapped. This had made his studies far more complicated than he had anticipated when he'd been a child, and he'd been disillusioned to realize that none of the maps he'd always loved so much had been particularly realistic. It didn't bother him so much now for his own sake, as he had become adept at both reading and designing maps. However, he worried about other children- as well as adults- who perhaps had no idea the maps they looked at were in some way inaccurate, nor would it be a simple matter for the layman to properly read a small-scale map.

This inspired Rhys to invent the null-distortion map, while consulting Maxwell about cartographic concepts he himself had little or no understanding of. To the naked eye, the map would show landmasses in their actual shapes and sizes, but direction and distance would be distorted. To read the map, a companion spell device, the "universal preservation rule," would be used to measure distances between any two points. (Using an ordinary rule or other instruments to do so would still be possible for those who know what they're doing.) It was a null-distortion map that was used for the final world map design in 885, and it is that which was used to designate the latitude-longitude coordinates of each village. (While these coordinates may appear inaccurate to the naked eye, they are nevertheless accurate when observed through the magical rule.)

Notable cartographic expeditionsEdit

  • LY 361-380: While not truly a single, cohesive expedition, these 19 years are often referred to as a "period of rapid expansion," following the founding of Ship in 360. During this time, eight villages- Kurok, Frinn, Toobay, Olek, Pritt, Shipsister, Jump Village, and Tanq- were founded. It was during this period that the East Isles and Jump Isle were first added to the map, and the full extent of the coast of First Land was established. It was also then that the east coast of the southern tip of Near Land was charted.
  • LY 849-853: An expedition led by Captain Midd sailed (roughly) east from Ship, discovering Midds Land in 850, where they founded the village of Ristar. For the next three years, both the coast and interior of the continent were explored and mapped. While sailing was involved, this expedition marked the first time a flying wagon was used by the general public, loaned to the explorers by Sorreters. It was during this period that people began to think it was time for the the entire planet to be mapped, at least roughly.
  • LY 853-860: The first exploratory expedition to exclusively utilize flying wagons. The continent mapped was not given a name at the time, but when it began to be settled in 930, it was given the name Elbienel, which was derived from the letters LBNL, which stood for "Last But Not Least." Though it was not the last continent on the Land to be discovered or mapped, it was the last on which settlements were established.
  • LY 858-860: An expedition sailed south from Shipsister, and discovered Atlast Land in 859. A village called Temporaneous was established there, but soon after abandoned. In 860, the expedition discovered First Ice (a continent surrounding the South Pole, though it's not commonly thought of as a continent, as it is considered unsuitable for human habitation).
  • LY 871-873: An aerial expedition mapped a continent which was not given a name at the time, but when it began to be settled in 922, it was given the name Far West. It technically lies within the Eastern Hemisphere of the map of the world, but its name derives from the fact that settlers sailed west from First Land and Near Land to reach it.
  • LY 879: Explorers from Triscot and Tanq traveled north specifically to found a village where the change of seasons described by God nearly nine centuries earlier could finally be experienced by Landians. This resulted in the settling of Kimrin, and subsequent exploration of the nearby Kimrin Mountains.
  • LY 880-882: A group of cartographers from Sorret set out on another aerial expedition, believing it was time to complete the mapping of Near Land, which had begun five centuries earlier with the founding of Tanq and continued in 771 with the founding of Triscot, but which until the founding of Kimrin had been largely neglected. After completing the map of Near Land, the expedition flew west and discovered what we now know is the Isle of Freedom, though at the time they didn't give it a name. In 902, it was learned that the First 50 Elves had actually discovered and settled the isle in 773, though if the Sorretian explorers had found the settlement as well as the isle in 882, they didn't share that knowledge. They merely added the isle to the map.
  • LY 884-885: An expedition sailed northeast from Ship, and discovered Rain Isle. A village called Port was established there. Over the following year, the coast and interior were mapped out by some of the settlers, while the expedition that had founded Ristar sailed north and discovered Second Ice (a continent surrounding the North Pole) in 885. This was the final discovery of land necessary to complete the world map.

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