Geospatial representation as intelligence.
Ancient humans had clear sense of space and territory, often very sophisticated. Mental maps.A
general sense of how to reach a location. Do you have symbols to represent features? Lots of factors.
Can see by 1000 BCE that some ancient near eastern states have forms of mapping that involve
drawing a permanent record of where locations are in relation to one another. Personal knowledge
becoming permanent record. Then taking other people's observations and adding them to this pictoral
According to Ptolemy, the world was much smaller than we though, there was one continent, etc. -
despite this errors, still an attempt to commit a view of the world to record.
Main way in which geospatial knowledge was represented was verbal descriptions.
Itineria - how to get somewhere by land
Periplus – how to get somewhere by sea
Descriptions of travel would be given by day – the roads you'd take in one day of your journal. With
periplus, more problematic – storm can blow you off course, no landmarks (obviously). Some would
say the coastline takes a particular shape, or you'll see a volcano on a certain side, tell you the colour of
the water, etc.
Tells you how to get fromAto B, what perils you may find, how to find your way if you become lost.
These are practical efforts to explain how to get somewhere. More effective than one might imagine.
How do you navigate in ancient days? Not easy. Do it through previous features – hope you can follow
in people's footsteps. First use of airborn recon by ships – ships keep birds with them, release them if
lost and follow them to land. Navigate to some degree by the stars. Possible for extraordinary
navigation – Polynesian settlement of South Pacific – people travelling thousands of miles by canoes,
using the stars, looking for birds, etc. Possible vikings used a system called “sunstones” - kind of
mineral where if you hold it up and turn it to make a double image into a single image, you can get an
east west bearing. Compass invented in China, spreads. Mapping heavily linked to developments in
navigation. Conceptually people are aware that you can draw charts. Navigational techniques that allow
you to see where you are, figure out long and lat on land relatively easily. Generally people hug the
coast when travelling by sea, but when not doing that it's tremendously difficult. When Christopher
Columbus sails across theAtlantic, he's one of the most experienced sailors on earth, well-read, knows
what geographers have been saying, spends effort trying to convince kings to sponsor expedition. But
central argument he uses is that he believes that the world is 2/3 the size it is. Core of his argument is
basically insisting there's no Pacific ocean. Gets the money because he thinks and presents the
expedition as easier than it would've been.
If we're looking for new form of intel that most affects how states behave in 1500 and 1600s, it's
mapmaking.Area where Europeans develop new techniques to deal with new problems they need to
solve. Chinese even adopt Western style cartography, despite having low tolerance for inventions
outside of their own state. Europeans want access to goods they can't produce themselves. Develop new ambitions for sailing long
distances. In 1400, 20 year period where Ming state builds great navy to establish a formal Chinese
sovereignty everywhere they know (formal, doesn't conquer, just get locals to agree that they are
subordinate to China). Fleet is easily able to sail over well developed tranis route of East China Sea to
Africa. But why would anyone want to go around the Southern tip ofAfrica to get anywhere? For
Europeans, getting out of theAtlantic is important.
NorthAtlantic is the worst sea for sailing in the world. Have to build tough ships that can survive the
conditions. Build of wood nailed closely together.
Europeans want to escape isolationism. Through long process, Western European seaboard states –
Portugal and Spain – support long range expeditions. Portugese from 1400-40 make it down to the
southern tip ofAfrica. Develop sailors that have their own periplus –AKArutters – ideas of how to get
from pointAto B. How to figure out where you are in the SouthAtlantic. Portugese sail into Indian
ocean, link to dominant trade. Connecting one continent to another in new way that's never happened
before, based on dead reckoning, experience sailors who can find where they are thanks to new
geospatial representation (periplus) and the portugese can create a new empire.
Only areas Western Europe has a military edge (excepting the Ottoman empire): Ships as platforms,
artillery on ships, stone fortifications. Portugese can still send small number of ships as a protection
racket – pay us or we sink you.Allows for fortified ports, allowing you to then raise the taxes, as well
as sending money back home, allowing cheaper way to bring in items from SE and EastAsia. Can cut
out every middleman, be the only middleman, send it back and make a killing.
Spanish are able to do the same thing when they gamble on Christopher Columbus. Finds the New
World, which isn't profitable at first. Through fluke, possible for ruthless and ballsy adventurers to
knock out the great empires. Reason is they're trying ot find China. Bad geography at economic level
leadss to ability to conquer.