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Thread: Anthropomorphic Maps

  1. #1
    Guild Applicant
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Petah Tikva, Israel

    Post Anthropomorphic Maps

    I learned about anthropomorphic maps from the linguist Dan Moonhawk Alford (deceased) and the anthropologist Stan Knowlton. They described the maps of Napi, the creator of the Blackfoot Indians (aka The Old Man) and his wife (The Old Woman) in Alberta, Canada. I "found" similar maps of a male body (Hermes ?) in the Middle East and a female body (Aphrodite) in north Africa.

    Anthropomorphic maps were generated by configuring the body of a god or goddess over the area to be mapped. The name of each part of that body became the name of the area under that part. This produced a scale 1:1 map-without-paper on which each placename automatically indicated its approximate location and direction with respect to every other place on the same map whose name was produced in this way.

    You are cordially invited to join the BPMaps discussion group on this topic, a very quiet list that averages about 2 messages per month. The URL is:

    The Challenge: To produce computer software that will find additional body-part maps elsewhere in the world. Available inputs:
    (1) geographic databases with ancient place names (e.g., the Perseus project).
    (2) body-part names on Swadesh lists. Unfortunately, the navel is not included.

    Best regards,

  2. #2


    Interesting! I think Tad Williams might have been inspired by something like that as he wrote part of his Otherland novels. I don't remember it clearly, but there was a place where the people referred to various places as the body parts of an enormous man. Of course, in that case, those places actually were the body parts of an enormous man.

    It might be fun to produce an illustration that combines that kind of oral mapping with a visual representation. Probably beyond my capacity at the moment, though.
    Bryan Ray, visual effects artist

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