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How Leonardo da Vinci made a “satellite” map in 1502

It was accurate — and incredibly imaginative.

Leonardo’s Imola.

How do you create a “satellite” map in 1502?

As the video above shows, it takes a lot of technical expertise and imagination. Fortunately, that was Leonardo da Vinci’s expertise.

When Leonardo was installed at Imola, Italy, as politician Cesare Borgia’s military engineer, he was charged with helping Borgia become more aware of the town’s layout. To do it, he made a groundbreaking map that combined cutting-edge surveying techniques with his artistic imagination.

The resulting “ichnographic” map was a step forward for cartography, transforming it from a partly imaginative exercise to an informational asset.

Check out the video above to see how he did it.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s Almanac series on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

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