How Leonardo Da Vinci Managed to Make a "Satellite" Map

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How Leonardo Da Vinci Managed to Make a "Satellite" Map

By watching this video, you will learn how Leonardo da Vinci made a "satellite" map in 1502. Leonardo da Vinci is known for his art and his inventions, but also for his innovative maps, such as that of Imola, Italy.

His first map helped Italian politician Cesare Borgia get an idea of the town of Imola that was much more accurate than most contemporary maps.

Using careful angle measurements and marking distances using a primitive odometer, he was able to create a map that was very close to accuracy.

Although marked with some inaccuracies, it is surprisingly accurate for its time and propelled the art of cartography forward.

Looking at maps from centuries ago, you've probably wondered how they could have been useful.

Not only were they filled with mythological monsters and mythological places, but the outlook served primarily for aesthetic design rather than practicality.

Of course, accuracy was hard to come by without the many mapping tools we take for granted, some of them were in their infancy in the Renaissance, and many others would have seemed like wacky magic to almost everyone in Europe in the 15th century.

Everyone, it sometimes seems, except Leonardo da Vinci, who anticipated and sometimes led the direction of futuristic technology in public works.

None of his flying machines were working and he could barely see images taken from space.

But he clearly saw the problem with contemporary maps. The need to repair them led to a 1502 aerial image of Imola, Italy, drawn almost as precisely as if he had observed the town via a Google satellite.

While the visionary Roman builder could imagine the sight of a god, it took someone with Leonardo's extraordinary insight and skill to draw one, in a surprisingly precise way.

Did he do it with determination and moxie? Was he astral projected thousands of miles above the city? Has he been in contact with ancient aliens?

No, he used geometry and a compass, the same means and instruments that allowed ancient scientists like Eratosthenes to calculate the circumference of the earth, to within 200 miles, over 2,000 years ago.

Leonardo probably also used an instrument called a bussola, a device that measures degrees in a circle, like the one that surrounds the map of his city.

Carefully recording the angles of every bend and intersection in the city and measuring the distance between them would have given him the data he needed to recreate the city from above, using the Bussola to maintain proper scale.

Other methods would have been involved, all of which were commonly available to surveyors, builders, town planners, and cartographers at the time.

Leonardo trusted mathematics, and although he could never verify it, like the best cartographers, he also wanted to do something beautiful.

It can be difficult for historians to determine which inaccuracies are due to miscalculation and which are due to deliberate distortion for artistic purposes.

But license or errors aside, Leonardo's map remains an incredible feat, marking a seismic shift in geography from "myth and perception" to that of "information, clearly drawn."

It's unclear whether the archetypal Renaissance man would have liked where that path led, but if he lived in the 21st century, his mind would already be trained on ideas that anticipate hundreds of years of technology in our future camera lite.

“Leonardo,” the narrator of the Vox video above explains, “needed to show Imola as an iconographic map” a term coined by the ancient Roman engineer Vitruvius to describe flat-style cartography.

Streets and buildings are not obscured, as is the case with maps drawn from the oblique perspective of a hill or mountain.

Leonardo took on the project while working as a military engineer for Cesare Borgia. "He was tasked with helping Borgia better understand the layout of the city."

For this visual medium that has become a cartographic marvel, he draws on the same source that inspired the elegant Vitruvian Man.

Enjoy This Video Tutorial About Art History

Source: Vox

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