Skip to main content

The biggest mistakes in mapmaking history - Kayla Wolf


7,125 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

Let’s Begin…

For thousands of years, people made both functional maps and what are known as cosmographies, illustrating the earth and its position in the cosmos, often including constellations, gods, and mythic locations. These maps were meant to depict the world's geography, but weren't necessarily useful for navigation and contained some glaring mistakes. Kayla Wolf shares mapmaking’s biggest blunders.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

Like most other technologies, map-making has improved over time. This lesson shows just a handful of some of the most fun mapmaking bloopers over time. Here are some links for how to learn more.

You can take an interactive 3D virtual tour of the mappae mundi here and zoom in on some of the more fantastical details!

Stanford University has a whole exhibit of all the maps of California as an island and you can check it out virtually here.

Curious about how one of history’s most renowned mapmakers could draw such an incorrect map with a magical rock at the north pole? Here’s an article that digs into Mercator’s North Pole map a bit more.

Next Section »

About TED-Ed Animations

TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kayla Wolf
  • Director Serin İnan, Kozmonot Animation Studio
  • Narrator Alexandra Panzer
  • Storyboard Artist Gürkan Gürler
  • Animator İrem Usta, Gürkan Gürler
  • Compositor Serin İnan
  • Art Director Gürkan Gürler
  • Music Cem Misirlioglu, David Coltun
  • Sound Designer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Director of Production Gerta Xhelo
  • Editorial Director Alex Rosenthal
  • Producer Bethany Cutmore-Scott
  • Editorial Producer Elizabeth Cox
  • Fact-Checker Jennifer Nam

More from Inventions that Shape History