Topographical Charts


Long before maps as we know them entered schools, educators used topographical (or topological) diagrams to provide context to events described in books or to lay out a basic knowledge of how the world is organized.[*]In English, topology is certainly the more appropriate term for reductive descriptions of places on a surface, as in subway diagrams, whereas topography has tended since the nineteenth century to be used in the sense of descriptive of landscape (topographical dictionary, topographical map, perhaps as a substitute for the far less familiar chorography). In this library, topographical will be used in a particular sense (closer to French, Germany and other languages) to denote diagrams that are neither chorographic nor geographic.

The portal discusses two types of topographical diagram used in the late antique schools:

From our perspective, a topographical diagram could be described as a hollowed-out map in which nothing else but the spatial relationships between a few selected points is shown.

Diagrams of urban transport systems are the most common topographical charts in use today: they show only the stops, which, to emphasize the sequences and connections and eliminate any other information which might confuse the user, reformulate the routes as smooth lines. The system diagrams name all the points, but do not show true distances or observe any consistent north orientation.

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