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This article explores the history of geography.

Ancient geography

The ancient Greeks saw the poet Homer as the founder of geography. His works the Iliad and the Odyssey are works of literature, but both contain a great deal of geographical information. Homer describes a circular world ringed by a single massive ocean. The works show that the Greeks by the 8th century BC had considerable knowledge of the geography of the eastern Mediterranean. The poems contain a large number of place names and descriptions, but for many of these it is uncertain what real location, if any, is actually being referred to.

Thales of Miletus is one of the first known philosophers known to have wondered about the shape of the world. He proposed that the world was based on water, and that all things grew out of it. He also laid down many of the astronomical and mathematical rules that would allow geography to be studied scientifically. His successor Anaximander is the first person known to have attempted to create a scale map of the known world and to have introduced the gnomon to Ancient Greece.

Hecataeus of Miletus initiated a different form of geography, avoiding the mathematical calculations of Thales and Anaximander he learnt about the world by gathering previous works and speaking to the sailors who came through the busy port of Miletus. From these accounts he wrote a detailed prose account of what was known of the world. A similar work, and one that mostly survives today, is Herodotus' Histories. While primarily a work of history, the book contains a wealth of geographic descriptions covering much of the known world. Egypt, Scythia, Persia, and Asia Minor are all described in great detail. Little is known about areas further a field, and descriptions of areas such as Indiamarker are almost wholly fanciful. Herodotus also made important observations about geography. He is the first to have noted the process by which large rivers, such as the Nile, build up deltas, and is also the first recorded as observing that winds tend to blow from colder regions to warmer ones.

Pythagoras was perhaps the first to propose a spherical world, arguing that the sphere was the most perfect form. This idea was embraced by Plato and Aristotle presented empirical evidence to verify this. He noted that the Earth's shadow during an eclipse is curved, and also that stars increase in height as one moves north. Eudoxus of Cnidus used the idea of a sphere to explain how the sun created differing climatic zones based on latitude. This led the Greeks to believe in a division of the world into five regions. At each of the poles was an uncharitably cold region. While extrapolating from the heat of the Sahara it was deduced that the area around the equator was unbearably hot. Between these extreme regions both the northern and southern hemispheres had a temperate belt suitable for human habitation.

Hellenistic period

These theories clashed with the evidence of explorers, however. Hanno the Navigator had traveled as far south as Sierra Leonemarker, and it is possible other Phoenicians had circumnavigated Africa. In the 4th century BC the Greek explorer Pytheas traveled through northwest Europe, and circled the British Isles. He found that the region was considerably more habitable than theory expected, but his discoveries were largely dismissed as fanciful by his contemporaries because of this. Conquerors also carried out exploration, for example, Caesar's invasions of Britain and Germany, expeditions/invasions sent by Augustus to Arabia Felix and Ethiopiamarker (Res Gestae 26), and perhaps the greatest Ancient Greek explorer of all, Alexander the Great, who deliberately set out to learn more about the east through his military expeditions and so took a large number of geographers and writers with his army who recorded their observations as they moved east.

The ancient Greeks divided the world into three continents, Europe, Asia, and Libyamarker (Africa). The Hellespontmarker formed the border between Europe and Asia. The border between Asia and Libya was generally considered to be the Nile river, but some geographers, such as Herodotus objected to this. Herodotus argued that there was no difference between the people on the east and west sides of the Nile, and that the Red Seamarker was a better border. The relatively narrow habitable band was considered to run from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to an unknown sea somewhere east of India in the east. The southern portion of Africa was unknown, as was the northern portion of Europe and Asia, so it was believed that they were circled by a sea. These areas were generally considered uninhabitable.

The size of the Earth was an important question to the Ancient Greeks. Eratosthenes attempted to calculate its circumference by measuring the angle of the sun at two different locations. While his numbers were problematic, most of the errors cancelled themselves out and he got quite an accurate figure. Since the distance from the Atlantic to India was roughly known, this raised the important question of what was in the vast region east of Asia and to the west of Europe. Crates of Mallus proposed that there were in fact four inhabitable land masses, two in each hemisphere. In Rome a large globe was created depicting this world. That some of the figures Eratosthenes had used in his calculation were considerably in error became known, and Posidonius set out to get a more accurate measurement. This number actually was considerably smaller than the real one, but it became accepted that the eastern part of Asia was not a huge distance from Europe.

Roman period

While the works of almost all earlier geographers have been lost, many of them are partially known through quotations found in Strabo. Strabo's seventeen volume work of geography is almost completely extant, and is one of the most important sources of information on classical geography. Strabo accepted the narrow band of habitation theory, and rejected the accounts of Hanno and Pytheas as fables. None of Strabo's maps survive, but his detailed descriptions give a clear picture of the status of geographical knowledge of the time. A century after Strabo Ptolemy launched a similar undertaking. By this time the Roman Empire had expanded through much of Europe, and previously unknown areas such as the British Isles had been explored. The Silk Road was also in operation, and for the first time knowledge of the far east began to be known. Ptolemy's Geographia opens with a theoretical discussion about the nature and techniques of geographical inquiry, and then moves to detailed descriptions of much the known world. Ptolemy lists a huge number of cities, tribes, and sites and places them in the world. It is uncertain what Ptolemy's names correspond to in the modern world, and a vast amount of scholarship has gone into trying to link Ptolemaic descriptions to know locations.

Pliny the Elder's Natural History also has sections on geography.

For the most part Ancient Greek geography was an academic field. There is little evidence that maps or charts were used for navigation. It does, however, seem that at least in Athens the people were acquainted with maps and that several were on public display. It was the Romans who made far more extensive practical use of geography and maps.


In Chinamarker, the earliest known geographical Chinese writing dates back to the 5th century BC, during the beginning of the Warring States (481 BC-221 BC). This was the 'Yu Gong' ('Tribute of Yu') chapter of the book Shu Jing (Classic of History). The book describes the traditional nine provinces, their kinds of soil, their characteristic products and economic goods, their tributary goods, their trades and vocations, their state revenues and agricultural systems, and the various rivers and lakes listed and placed accordingly. The nine provinces in the time of this geographical work was very small in terrain size compared to what modern China occupies today. In fact, its description pertained to areas of the Yellow Rivermarker, the lower valleys of the Yangtzemarker, with the plain between them and the Shandong peninsula, and to the west the most northern parts of the Wei Rivermarker and the Han Rivermarker were known (along with the southern parts of modern day Shanximarker province).

In this ancient geographical treatise (which would greatly influence later Chinese geographers and cartographers), the Chinese used the mythological figure of Yu the Great to describe the known earth (of the Chinese). Apart from the appearance of Yu, however, the work was devoid of magic, fantasy, Chinese folklore, or legend. Although the Chinese geographical writing in the time of Herodotus and Strabo were of lesser quality and contained less systematic approach, this would change from the 3rd century onwards, as Chinese methods of documenting geography became more complex than found in Europe (until the 13th century).

The earliest extant maps found in archeological sites of China date to the 4th century BC and were made in the ancient State of Qin. The earliest known reference to the application of a geometric grid and mathematically graduated scale to a map was contained in the writings of the cartographer Pei Xiu (224–271). From the 1st century AD onwards, official Chinese historical texts contained a geographical section, which was often an enormous compilation of changes in place-names and local administrative divisions controlled by the ruling dynasty, descriptions of mountain ranges, river systems, taxable products, etc. The ancient Chinese historian Ban Gu (32–92) most likely started the trend of the gazeteer in China, which became prominent in the Southern and Northern Dynasties period and Sui Dynasty. Local gazeteers would feature a wealth of geographic information, although its cartographic aspects were not as highly professional as the maps created by professional cartographers.

From the time of the 5th century BC Shu Jing forward, Chinese geographical writing provided more concrete information and less legendary element. This example can be seen in the 4th chapter of the Huainanzi (Book of the Master of Huainan), compiled under the editorship of Prince Liu An in 139 BC during the Han Dynasty (202 BC-202 AD). The chapter gave general descriptions of topography in a systematic fashion, given visual aids by the use of maps (di tu) due to the efforts of Liu An and his associate Zuo Wu. In Chang Chu's Hua Yang Guo Chi (Historical Geography of Szechuanmarker) of 347 AD, not only rivers, trade routes, and various tribes were described, but it also wrote of a 'Ba Jun Tu Jing' ('Map of Szechuan'), which had been made much earlier in 150 AD. The Shui Jing (Waterways Classic) was written anonymously in the 3rd century during the Three Kingdoms era (attributed often to Guo Pu), and gave a description of some 137 rivers found throughout China. In the 6th century AD, the book was expanded to forty times its original size by the geographers Li Daoyuan, given the new title of Shui Jing Zhu (The Waterways Classic Commented).

In later periods of the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD) and Ming Dynastymarker (1368-1644 AD) there were much more systematic and professional approaches to geographic literature. The Song Dynasty poet, scholar, and government official Fan Chengda (1126-1193) wrote the geographical treatise known as the Gui Hai Yu Heng Chi. It focused primarily on the topography of the land, along with the agricultural, economic and commercial products of each region in China's southern provinces. The polymath Chinese scientist Shen Kuo (1031-1095) devoted a significant amount of his written work to geography, as well as a hypothesis of land formation (geomorphology) due to the evidence of marine fossils found far inland, along with bamboo fossils found underground in a region far from where bamboo was suitable to grow. The 14th century Yuan Dynastymarker geographer Na-xin wrote a treatise of archeological topography of all the regions north of the Yellow River, in his book He Shuo Fang Gu Ji. The Ming Dynasty geographer Xu Xiake (1587-1641) traveled throughout the provinces of China (often on foot) to write his enormous geographical and topographical treatise, documenting various details of his travels, such as the locations of small gorges, or mineral beds such as mica schists. Xu's work was largely systematic, providing accurate details of measurement, and his work (translated later by Ding Wenjiang) read more like a 20th century field surveyor than an early 17th century scholar.

The Chinese were also concerned with documenting geographical information of foreign regions far outside of China. Although Chinese had been writing of civilizations of the Middle East, India, and Central Asia since the traveler Zhang Qian (2nd century BC), later Chinese would provide more concrete and valid information on the topography and geographical aspects of foreign regions. The Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) Chinese diplomat Wang Xuan-ce traveled to Magadha (modern northeastern Indiamarker) during the 7th century AD. Afterwards he wrote the book Zhang Tian-zhu Guo Tu (Illustrated Accounts of Central India), which included a wealth of geographical information. Chinese geographers such as Jia Dan (730–805) wrote accurate descriptions of places far abroad. In his work written between 785 and 805 AD, he described the sea route going into the mouth of the Persian Gulfmarker, and that the medieval Iranian (whom he called the people of the Luo-He-Yi country, ie. Persiamarker) had erected 'ornamental pillars' in the sea that acted as lighthouse beacons for ships that might go astray. Confirming Jia's reports about lighthouses in the Persian Gulf, Arabic writers a century after Jia wrote of the same structures, writers such as al-Mas'udi and al-Muqaddasi. The later Song Dynasty ambassador Xu Jing wrote his accounts of voyage and travel throughout Koreamarker in his work of 1124 AD, the Xuan-He Feng Shi Gao Li Tu Jing (Illustrated Record of an Embassy to Korea in the Xuan-He Reign Period). The geography of medieval Cambodiamarker (the Khmer Empire) was documented in the book Zhen-La Feng Tu Ji of 1297 AD, written by Zhou Daguan.

Middle Ages

During the Early Middle Ages, geographical knowledge in Europe regressed (though it is a popular misconception that they thought the world was flat), and the simple T and O map became the standard depiction of the world. In the Middle East, however, Muslim geographers such as al-Idrisi, al-Yaqubi, al-Masudi, Ibn Khurdadhbih, Ibn al-Faqih, al-Istakhri, Ibn Battuta, Ibn Khaldun, etc. maintained the Greek and Roman techniques and developed new ones. The Islamic empire stretched from Spainmarker to Indiamarker, and Arab and Jewish traders (known as Radhanites) travelled throughout Eurasia, Africa and the Indian Oceanmarker. The Arabs added a great deal of knowledge to expand and correct the classical sources. There were some representatives of the West that produced geographical works of quality, such as the Syrianmarker bishop Jacob of Edessa (633-708), but this paled in comparison to the virtual mountain of work published by Islamic writers of the Middle Ages (who were largely responsible for the foundations of knowledge present in later Western geography).

During the Muslim conquests of the seventh and early eighth centuries, Arab armies established the Islamic Arab Empire, reaching from Central Asia to the Iberian Peninsulamarker. An early form of globalization began emerging during the Islamic Golden Age, when the knowledge, trade and economies from many previously isolated regions and civilizations began integrating due to contacts with Muslim explorers, sailors, scholars, traders, and travelers. Subhi Y. Labib has called this period the Pax Islamica, and John M. Hobson has called it the Afro-Asiatic age of discovery, in reference to the Muslim Southwest Asian and North African traders and explorers who travelled most of the Old World, and established an early global economy across most of Asia, Africa, and Europe, with their trade networks extending from the Atlantic Oceanmarker and Mediterranean Seamarker in the west to the Indian Oceanmarker and China Seas in the east, and even as far as Japanmarker, Koreamarker and the Bering Straitmarker.Arabic silver dirham coins were also being circulated throughout the Afro-Eurasian landmass, as far as sub-Saharan Africa in the south and northern Europe in the north, often in exchange for goods and slaves. In England, for example, the Anglo-Saxon king Offa of Mercia (r. 757-796) had coins minted with the Shahadah in Arabic. These factors helped establish the Arab Empire (including the Rashidun, Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid caliphates) as the world's leading extensive economic power throughout the 7th–13th centuries.John M. Hobson (2004), The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation, pp. 29–30, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521547245.

During the Muslim Agricultural Revolution, Muslim scientists also made significant advances in botany and laid the foundations of agricultural science. Muslim botanists and agriculturists demonstrated advanced agronomical, agrotechnical and economic knowledge in areas such as meteorology, climatology, hydrology, soil occupation, and the economy and management of agricultural enterprises. They also demosntrated agricultural knowledge in areas such as pedology, agricultural ecology, irrigation, preparation of soil, planting, spreading of manure, killing herbs, sowing, cutting trees, grafting, pruning vine, prophylaxis, phytotherapy, the care and improvement of cultures and plants, and the harvest and storage of crops.

In the 9th century, Alkindus was the first to introduce experimentation into the Earth sciences. An early adherent of environmental determinism was the medieval Afro-Arab writer al-Jahiz, who explained how the environment can determine the physical characteristics of the inhabitants of a certain community. He used his early theory of evolution to explain the origins of different human skin colors, particularly black skin, which he believed to be the result of the environment. He cited a stony region of black basalt in the northern Najd as evidence for his theory. In the early tenth century, Abū Zayd al-Balkhī, originally from Balkhmarker, founded the "Balkhī school" of terrestrial mapping in Baghdadmarker. The geographers of this school also wrote extensively of the peoples, products, and customs of areas in the Muslim world, with little interest in the non-Muslim realms.E. Edson and Emilie Savage-Smith, Medieval Views of the Cosmos, pp. 61-3, Bodleian Library, University of Oxfordmarker Suhrāb, a late tenth century Muslim geographer, accompanied a book of geographical coordinates with instructions for making a rectangular world map, with equirectangular projection or cylindrical cylindrical equidistant projection. In the early 11th century, Avicenna hypothesized on the geological causes of mountains in The Book of Healing (1027).

In mathematical geography, Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī, around 1025, was the first to describe a polar equi-azimuthal equidistant projection of the celestial sphere. He was also regarded as the most skilled when it came to mapping cities and measuring the distances between them, which he did for many cities in the Middle East and western Indian subcontinent. He often combined astronomical readings and mathematical equations, in order to develop methods of pin-pointing locations by recording degrees of latitude and longitude. He also developed similar techniques when it came to measuring the heights of mountains, depths of valleys, and expanse of the horizon, in The Chronology of the Ancient Nations. He also discussed human geography and the planetary habitability of the Earth. He hypothesized that roughly a quarter of the Earth's surface is habitable by humans, and also argued that the shores of Asia and Europe were "separated by a vast sea, too dark and dense to navigate and too risky to try" in reference to the Atlantic Oceanmarker and Pacific Oceanmarker.

At the age of 17, al-Biruni calculated the latitude of Kath, Khwarazm, using the maximum altitude of the Sun. Al-Biruni also solved a complex geodesic equation in order to accurately compute the Earth's circumference, which were close to modern values of the Earth's circumference. His estimate of 6,339.9 km for the Earth radius was only 16.8 km less than the modern value of 6,356.7 km. In contrast to his predecessors who measured the Earth's circumference by sighting the Sun simultaneously from two different locations, al-Biruni developed a new method of using trigonometric calculations based on the angle between a plain and mountain top which yielded more accurate measurements of the Earth's circumference and made it possible for it to be measured by a single person from a single location.

By the age of 22, al-Biruni had written several short works, including a study of map projections, Cartography, which included a method for projecting a hemisphere on a plane. Biruni's Kitab al-Jawahir (Book of Precious Stones) described minerals such as stones and metals in depth, and was regarded as the most complete book on mineralogy in his time. He conducted hundreds of experiments to gauge the accurate measurements of items he catalogued, and he often listed them by name in a number of different languages, including Arabic, Persian, Greek, Syriac, Hindi, Latin, and other languages. In the Book of Precious Stones, he catalogued each mineral by its color, odor, hardness, density and weight. The weights for many of these minerals he measured were correct to three decimal places of accuracy, and were almost as accurate as modern measurements for these minerals.

John J. O'Connor and Edmund F. Robertson write in the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive:

The Arab geographer Al-Idrisi's Mappa Mundi incorporated the knowledge of Africa, the Indian Oceanmarker and the Far East gathered by Arab merchants and explorers with the information inherited from the classical geographers to create one of the most accurate maps of the world to date. The Tabula Rogeriana was drawn by Al-Idrisi in 1154 for the Norman King Roger II of Sicily, after a stay of eighteen years at his court, where he worked on the commentaries and illustrations of the map. The map, written in Arabic, shows the Eurasian continent in its entirety, but only shows the northern part of the African continent.

The earliest known treatises dealing with environmentalism and environmental science, especially pollution, were Arabic treatises written by al-Kindi, al-Razi, Ibn Al-Jazzar, al-Tamimi, al-Masihi, Avicenna, Ali ibn Ridwan, Abd-el-latif, and Ibn al-Nafis. Their works covered a number of subjects related to pollution such as air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination, municipal solid waste mishandling, and environmental impact assessments of certain localities. Cordobamarker, al-Andalusmarker also had the first waste containers and waste disposal facilities for litter collection.S. P. Scott (1904), History of the Moorish Empire in Europe, 3 vols, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia and London.
F. B. Artz (1980), The Mind of the Middle Ages, Third edition revised, University of Chicago Press, pp 148-50.
(cf. References, 1001 Inventions)

In the 14th century, Ibn Baṭṭūṭah, a Moroccanmarker, began his travels. He started as a pilgrim to Mecca, but continued his journeys for the next 30 years, covering some 73,000 miles (117,000 km). Before returning home, he had visited most of the Muslim world and beyond, from Europe and southern Africa in the west to eastern Asia in the east. The universal use of Arabic in the Muslim world and his status as judge trained in law gave him access to royal courts at most locations he visited.

Ibn Battuta (1304–1368) was a traveler and explorer, whose account documents his travels and excursions over a period of almost thirty years, covering some 73,000 miles (117,000 km). These journeys covered most of the known Old World, extending from North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the west, to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Chinamarker in the east, a distance readily surpassing that of his predecessors and his near-contemporary Marco Polo.

The trips of Venetianmarker explorer Marco Polo in the 1200s, the Christian Crusades of the 1100s and 1200s, and the Portuguese and Spanish voyages of exploration during the 1400s and 1500s opened up new horizons and stimulated geographic writings. The Mongols also learned much about the geography of Asia. During the 1400s, Henry the Navigator of Portugal supported explorations of the African coast and became a leader in the promotion of geographic studies. Among the most notable accounts of voyages and discoveries published during the 1500s were those by Giambattista Ramusio in Venice, by Richard Hakluyt in England, and by Theodore de Bry in what is now Belgium.

Early modern period

See article: Age of Discovery

Following the journeys of Marco Polo, interest in geography spread throughout Europe. From around circa 1400, the writings of Ptolemy and his Islamic successors provided a systematic framework to tie together and portray geographical information. The great voyages of exploration in 16th and 17th centuries revived a desire for both accurate geographic detail, and more solid theoretical foundations. The Geographia Generalis by Bernhardus Varenius and Gerardus Mercator's world map are prime examples of the new breed of scientific geography.

The Muslim Ottoman cartographer Piri Reis drawn navigational maps in his Kitab-ı Bahriye. The work includes an atlas of charts for small segments of the Mediterranean, accompanied by sailing instructions covering the sea. In the second version of the work, he included a map of the Americas. The Piri Reis map drawn by the Ottoman cartographer Piri Reis in 1513 is an early surviving map to show the Americas, and may show the coastline Antarcticamarker.

19th century

By the 18th century, geography had become recognized as a discrete discipline and became part of a typical university curriculum in Europe (especially Parismarker and Berlinmarker), although not the in the United Kingdommarker where geography was generally taught as a sub-discipline of other subjects.

One of the great works of this time was Kosmos: a sketch of a physical description of the Universe, by Alexander von Humboldt, the first volume of which was published in German in 1845. Such was the power of this work that Dr Mary Somerville, of Cambridge Universitymarker intended to scrap publication of her own Physical Geography on reading Kosmos. Von Humboldt himself persuaded her to publish (after the publisher sent him a copy).

In 1877, Thomas Henry Huxley published his Physiography with the philosophy of universality presented as an integrated approach in the study of the natural environment. The philosophy of universality in geography was not a new one but can be seen as evolving from the works of Alexander Von Humboldt and Immanuel Kant. The publication of Huxley physiography presented a new form of geography that analysed and classified cause and effect at the micro-level and then applied these to the macro-scale (due to the view that the micro was part of the macro and thus an understanding of all the micro-scales was need to understand the macro level). This approach emphasized the empirical collection of data over the theoretical. The same approach was also used by Halford John Mackinder in 1887. However, the integration of the Geosphere, Atmosphere and Biosphere under physiography was soon over taken by Davisian geomorphology.

Over the past two centuries the quantity of knowledge and the number of tools has exploded. There are strong links between geography and the sciences of geology and botany, as well as economics, sociology and demographics.

The Royal Geographical Societymarker was founded in Englandmarker in 1830, although the United Kingdom did not get its first full Chair of geography until 1917. The first real geographical intellect to emerge in United Kingdommarker geography was Halford John Mackinder, appointed reader at Oxford Universitymarker in 1887.

The National Geographic Societymarker was founded in the USAmarker in 1888 and began publication of the National Geographic magazine which became and continues to be a great popularizer of geographic information. The society has long supported geographic research and education.

20th century

In the West during the second half of the 19th and the 20th century, the discipline of geography went through four major phases: environmental determinism, regional geography, the quantitative revolution, and critical geography.

Environmental determinism

Environmental determinism is the theory that a people's physical, mental and moral habits are directly due to the influence of their natural environment. Prominent environmental determinists included Carl Ritter, Ellen Churchill Semple, and Ellsworth Huntington. Popular hypotheses included "heat makes inhabitants of the tropics lazy" and "frequent changes in barometric pressure make inhabitants of temperate latitudes more intellectually agile." Environmental determinist geographers attempted to make the study of such influences scientific. Around the 1930s, this school of thought was widely repudiated as lacking any basis and being prone to (often bigoted) generalizations. Environmental determinism remains an embarrassment to many contemporary geographers, and leads to skepticism among many of them of claims of environmental influence on culture (such as the theories of Jared Diamond).

Regional geography

Regional geography represented a reaffirmation that the proper topic of geography was study of places (regions). Regional geographers focused on the collection of descriptive information about places, as well as the proper methods for dividing the earth up into regions. Well known names from these period are Alfred Hettner from Germany and Vidal de la Blache from France. The philosophical basis of this field in United States was laid out by Richard Hartshorne who defined geography as a study of areal differentiation which later led to critic of this approach as overly descriptive and unscientific.

The Quantitative revolution

The quantitative revolution was geography's attempt to redefine itself as a science, in the wake of the revival of interest in science following the launch of Sputnik. Quantitative revolutionaries, often referred to as "space cadets", declared that the purpose of geography was to test general laws about the spatial arrangement of phenomena. They adopted the philosophy of positivism from the natural sciences and turned to mathematics—especially statistics—as a way of proving hypotheses. The quantitative revolution laid the groundwork for the development of geographic information systems. Well-known geographers from this period are Fred K. Schaefer, Waldo Tobler, William Garrison, Peter Haggett, Richard J. Chorley, William Bunge or Torsten Hägerstrand.

Critical geography

Though positivist and post-positivist approaches remain important in geography, critical geography arose as a critique of positivism. The first strain of critical geography to emerge was humanistic geography. Drawing on the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology, humanistic geographers (such as Yi-Fu Tuan) focused on people's sense of, and relationship with, places. More influential was Marxist geography, which applied the social theories of Karl Marx and his followers to geographic phenomena. David Harvey and Richard Peet are well-known Marxist geographers. Feminist geography is, as the name suggests, the use of ideas from feminism in geographic contexts. The most recent strain of critical geography is postmodernist geography, which employs the ideas of postmodernist and poststructuralist theorists to explore the social construction of spatial relations.

See also


  1. Needham, Volume 3, 500.
  2. Needham, Volume 3, 501.
  3. Needham, Volume 3, 512.
  4. Hsu, 90–93.
  5. Needham, Volume 3, 538–540.
  6. Needham, Volume 3, 508.
  7. Hsu, 98.
  8. Needham, Volume 3, 507-508.
  9. Needham, Volume 3, 517.
  10. Needham, Volume 3, 514.
  11. Needham, Volume 3, 510.
  12. Needham, Volume 3, 524.
  13. Needham, Volume 3, 511.
  14. Needham, Volume 4, Part 3, 661.
  15. Needham, Volume 3, 512.
  16. Subhi Y. Labib (1969), "Capitalism in Medieval Islam", The Journal of Economic History 29 (1), pp. 79–96.
  17. Alavi, S. M. Ziauddin (1965), Arab geography in the ninth and tenth centuries, pp. 104-5, Aligarh: Aligarh Muslim University Press
  18. Roman K. Kovalev, Alexis C. Kaelin (2007), "Circulation of Arab Silver in Medieval Afro-Eurasia: Preliminary Observations", History Compass 5 (2), pp. 560–80.
  19. Mayor of London (2006), Muslims in London, p. 14, Greater London Authority.
  20. Toufic Fahd (1996), "Botany and agriculture", p. 849, in
  21. Plinio Prioreschi, "Al-Kindi, A Precursor Of The Scientific Revolution", Journal of the International Society for the History of Islamic Medicine, 2002 (2): 17-19.
  22. Lawrence I. Conrad (1982), "Taun and Waba: Conceptions of Plague and Pestilence in Early Islam", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 25 (3), pp. 268-307 [278].
  23. David A. King (1996), "Astronomy and Islamic society: Qibla, gnomics and timekeeping", in Roshdi Rashed, ed., Encyclopedia of the History of Arabic Science, Vol. 1, p. 128-184 [153]. Routledge, London and New York.
  24. James S. Aber (2003). Alberuni calculated the Earth's circumference at a small town of Pind Dadan Khan, District Jhelum, Punjab, Pakistan. Abu Rayhan al-Biruni, Emporia State University.
  25. Lenn Evan Goodman (1992), Avicenna, p. 31, Routledge, ISBN 041501929X.
  26. L. Gari (2002), "Arabic Treatises on Environmental Pollution up to the End of the Thirteenth Century", Environment and History 8 (4), pp. 475-488.
  27. E. Edson and Emilie Savage-Smith, Medieval Views of the Cosmos, pp. 113-6, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  28. Edson and Savage-Smith (2004), p. 106
  29. Dutch, Steven. The Piri Reis Map. University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
  30. McIntosh, Gregory C. The Piri Reis Map of 1513. Athens, Georgia: University of George Press, 2000


  • Hsu, Mei-ling. "The Qin Maps: A Clue to Later Chinese Cartographic Development," Imago Mundi (Volume 45, 1993): 90-100.
  • Martin, Geoffrey J. All Possible Worlds: A History of Geographical Ideas. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  • Needham, Joseph (1986). Science and Civilization in China: Volume 4, Part 3. Taipei: Caves Books, Ltd.
  • Harley, J.B. and David Woodward. eds. The History of Cartography series Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987-

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