Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/701

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PRIMITIVE MAP-MAKING.

As a rule, cartography begins with road-maps. Peoples whose territory is a terminating point or is traversed by important trade-routes, and who perform a carrier-service, are accustomed as a matter of course to learn to depend upon drafted representations of their roads. Appolonius Rhodius says that such maps were used by the ancient Colchians of the Southwestern Caucasus and Northern Armenia, through whose territory ran the great caravan routes from the Black Sea to the East and South. Herodotus and Xenophon describe the great post-routes of the Persians, over which the royal orders were carried to all parts of the kingdom, as systematically laid out and provided with stations and inns, and arrangements for changing horses. The caravan-roads now mark the most practicable routes for railways; and the French might make good use of the itineraries of the Tuaregs in laying their tracks across the Sahara, if they were only accessible. That the sons of the desert, who are able to speed with unerring accuracy for hundreds of miles across the ocean of sand, possess at least the capacity to make a representation of their route, is shown by the statement of Duverrier, that the Sheik Othman drew in the sand for him a plan of the central range of Hoggar.

The accounts that have been given of the map-making of the negro races have a still higher interest for us. Stanley says that the Waganda frequently have recourse to drawings which they make upon the ground to render their imperfect verbal descriptions more clear. The sand of the sea-shore has, in fact, played a very important part in the beginnings of cartography. Travelers of widely different periods, whether speaking of the German coasts or of the shores of America and Asia, have made the same observation, that the coast people, in order to give a more distinct answer to any question about the roads and paths, have spontaneously made drawings in the sand of the stretch of country they were talking of. Examples in point may be cited from the Baltic coasts, from the Island of Jesso, and from Northern Siberia. Ainos and Tunguses have directed travelers in the same illustrative way.

The more intelligent ones divide the roads which they would represent into days' journeys, and designate mountains and islands with little piles of sand, and towns and fishing-stations with sticks. Kotzebue, Chamisso, and Beechey tell stories of the same kind of peoples of the great ocean. The inhabitants of Tahiti and the Marshall Islands give, by means of stones arranged on the beach-sand, a clear view of whole groups of islands, between which they point out the navigable channels. The islanders have also a kind of portable maps of their own designing, showing, by means of strings with knots tied in them, the direction of the principal currents. According to Captain F. H. Witt, the Micronesians of the Caroline and Marshall Islands make a frame of ribs of palm-leaves, across which they weave the blades to serve as the foundation for their map. The islands are then represented