Windows on the World

Image for Windows on the WorldNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Episode 1 of 3

Duration: 1 hour

In a series about the extraordinary stories behind maps, Professor Jerry Brotton uncovers how maps aren't simply about getting from A to B but are revealing snapshots of defining moments in history and tools of political power and persuasion.

Visiting the world's first known map, etched into the rocks of a remote alpine hillside 3,000 years ago, Brotton explores how each culture develops its own unique, often surprising way of mapping. As Henry VIII's stunning maps of the British coastline from a bird's eye view show, they were also used to exert control over the world.

During the Enlightenment, the great French Cassini dynasty pioneered the western quest to map the world with greater scientific accuracy, leading also to the British Ordnance Survey. But these new scientific methods were challenged by cultures with alternative ways of mapping, such as in a Polynesian navigator's map which has no use for north, south and east.

As scientifically accurate map-making became a powerful tool of European expansion, the British carved the state of Iraq out of the Middle East. When the British drew up Iraq's boundaries, they had devastating consequences for the nomadic tribes of Mesopotamia.

  • Photo: Tupaia's Pacific map

    Photo: Tupaia's Pacific map

    An image of 16th century navigator Tupaia's map of the Pacific (┬ęBritish Library Board).

Credits

Presenter
Jerry Brotton
Director
Rosie Schellenberg
Producer
Rosie Schellenberg
Executive Producer
Chris Granlund

Broadcasts

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss