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Man has been carving symbols into stones and on cave walls for thousands of years so it was only a matter of time before navigational inscriptions would emerge to help guide our hunting and foraging patterns.

From cave drawings and Babylonian clay tablets to stone carvings and papyrus text, here are some of the world’s oldest maps (in no particular order).

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About The Author

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström

Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström is a MatadorU faculty member and Network contributor. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Vogue, BBC,, and many more. Follow her photoblog at

  • Bethany

    Wow! These are awesome. I LOVE maps – esp. old ones. These are amazing! Thanks for putting them up.

    • Lola Akinmade

      Thanks Bethany! I’m a huge fan as well.

  • Michelle Schusterman

    This essay is gorgeous. I love the papyrus map.

  • Cherie Brown

    In the Chinese Map at the top, there appears to be two land shapes that look like they could be Australia and NZ? Europeans (Able Tasman) did not see the coast of New Zealand until 1642, so, after the Maori who first settled in ‘Aotearoa’, maybe the Chinese may have been the next to find these southern lands.

    • Lola Akinmade

      Could very well be, Cherie! It’s intriguing how much information and history these maps reveal in terms of who discovered what and when.

  • blobber

    i’m really surprised that u didn’t include the “Piri Reis Map” from 1513 that shows africa, north and south america incredibly accurately. for more info:

    • Lola Akinmade

      Thanks for adding links to the Piri Reis map!

  • Hal Amen

    How cool would it be to study this stuff for a living.

    • Lola Akinmade

      For real!

  • Sophie

    I adore maps. Have my walls practically plastered with them. Don’t even have to be all that old. Maps from when I was a child look quite different today, esp. Europe.

    Lovely photo essay.

  • Cathy Sweeney

    Fascinating – I’ve never seen these before. I’m a self-confessed mapaholic. I enjoy them for historical information as well as travel planning, dreaming and reminiscing!

  • Juliet Pearl Bonito is something amaze me….very unique creature.

  • Beta-testing MarketPlace Movie Tavern

    Can you help me find the map to Cinema City at Market Place Movie Tavern & Mezzanine 5737 Brice Outlet Mall Way Columbus Ohio 43232 | If you text the word | CinemaCity to 90210 | You will get a free gift on your phone | |.


    Do you have any Historic maps for Licking County Ohio USA?

  • Weena

    maps are just great! thanks for wasting my time

  • bobo

    why am i here?…what am i doing with my life?….

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