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Ernesto Capello: “Mapping Mountains"

  • Thursday, October 26, 2023
  • 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Zoom

In person event at Library of Congress in conjunction with Philip Lee Phillips Society.

Location: Library of Congress, 3:00 – 4:00 pm ET (exact room still TBD); Lecture also available virtually at 3:00 pm

Time:  3:00 pm ET/2:00 pm CT/1:00 pm MT/12:00 pm PT

Title: Mapping Mountains

Speaker:  Ernesto Capello, Professor, History Department, Macalester College, Saint Paul, MN

This talk surveys the broad history of relief representation in cartography with an emphasis on the allegorical, commercial and political uses of mapping mountains. Developed with the support of a 2019 Phillip Lee Phillips society fellowship, it presents a brief historical account of techniques of relief representation before delving into four clusters of mountain mapping metaphors. These include visions of mountains as paradise, the mountain as site of colonial and postcolonial encounter, the development of elevation profiles and panoramas, and mountains as mass-marketed touristed itineraries.

The oldest extant map, a Mesopotamian clay tablet from 2500 BCE, also happens to be the first attempt to map mountains. The so-called Nuzi Tablet likely depicts the Zagros mountains (which top out at 14000 feet) and the Kirkuk hills (which lie at about 1000 feet). Each is represented through similarly sized semicircular mounds, demonstrating just how long humans have struggled to accurately depict relief.

Planning to attend?   

Registration links for both in-person and virtual participation are forthcoming.

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