Whoever visualized the Çatalhöyük "mental map" may have been encouraged by the fact that houses in Çatalhöyük were clustered together and were entered via flat roofs.Therefore, it was normal for the inhabitants to view their city from a bird's eye view.Later civilizations followed the same convention; today, almost all maps are drawn as if we are looking down from the sky instead of from a horizontal or oblique perspective.

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The earliest known maps are of the stars, not the earth.

Dots dating to 16,500 BC found on the walls of the Lascaux caves map out part of the night sky, including the three bright stars Vega, Deneb, and Altair (the Summer Triangle asterism), as well as the Pleiades star cluster.

The Cuevas de El Castillo in Spain contain a dot map of the Corona Borealis constellation dating from 12,000 BC.

and a 14,000 BC polished chunk of sandstone from a cave in Spanish Navarre may represent similar features superimposed on animal etchings, although it may also represent a spiritual landscape, or simple incisings.

The Fra Mauro map, one great medieval European map, was made around 1450 by the Venetian monk Fra Mauro.

It is a circular world map drawn on parchment and set in a wooden frame, about two meters in diameter From cave paintings to ancient maps of Babylon, Greece, and Asia, through the Age of Exploration, and on into the 21st century, people have created and used maps as essential tools to help them define, explain, and navigate their way through the world.Maps began as two-dimensional drawings but can also adopt three-dimensional shapes (globes, models) and be stored in purely numerical forms.The term cartography is modern, loaned into English from French cartographie in the 1840s, based on Middle Latin carta "map".There are exceptions: one of the "quasi-maps" of the Minoan civilization on Crete, the "House of the Admiral" wall painting, dating from c.1600 BC, shows a seaside community in an oblique perspective.For example, a 7.6 × 6.8 cm clay tablet found in 1930 at Ga-Sur, near contemporary Kirkuk, shows a map of a river valley between two hills.