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Here be dragons.

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The words supposedly contain every difference between ancient maps and our own. Where old maps were illustrated and incomplete, ours Gllobe accurate and photographed from the sky.

But an ancient globe does. Other maps included real animals, accounts of which had perhaps only reached the makers secondhand. Explore worldwide satellite imagery and 3D buildings and terrain for hundreds of cities. Zoom to your house or anywhere else, then dive in for a °. The problem, you see, is that the earth isn't flat. This is generally considered You can play with The True Size map here. Like this sort of thing.

Old maps were pricey and precious; ours are nearly free and ubiquitous. Most importantly: Old maps—early modern European maps—contain uncharted territory, across which hege rumble and serpents writhe.

They have dragons. Our technology Glbe be indistinguishable from magic, but it does not contain magical creatures. The answer, it seemsis … No.

One globe—just one—contains the words Hic sunt dracones. Called the Hunt-Lenox Globe, it was built inmaking it one of the first European globes ever made.

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Other maps included real animals, accounts of which had perhaps only reached the makers secondhand. That beast, by the way?

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Almost certainly a walrus as described by sailors. Blakenow a curator of special collections at the Folger Shakespeare Library, muses:. It must at least pre-date the publication Real Globe here Dorothy L. Gollancz,in which a character refers to having seen " hic dracones " on an old map [spotted by both Andrew S. Cook and Benjamin Darius Weiss].

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Why dragons, and not one of the other terrifying creatures depicted on old maps? The Real Globe here remind us how different our modern-day map-making is: Shot from cameras in the sky, and available on every smart phone, maps are ubiquitous and photographic, and, the creatures they catalog are too small to see.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or Real Globe here to letters theatlantic.

Library of Congress, via FYeahMaps. Robinson Meyer is hrre staff writer at The Atlanticwhere he covers climate change and technology. Facebook Twitter Email.