Michael A. Vuksta
In the earliest handwriting that we can read, hieroglyphic, the ideogram meaning “city” consists of a cross enclosed in acircle. The cross represents the convergence of roads which bring in and redistribute men, merchandise, and ideas. This convergence entails a quickening of communication. . . . The circle, in the hieroglyph, indicates a moat or a wall. This need not be materially erected so long as it is morally present to keep the citizens together, sheltered from the cold, wide world, conscious of belonging to a unique team. . . communication plus togetherness, or, a special aptitude for change combined with a peculiar feeling of identity: is not this the essence of the city.
Robert S. Lopez
The Crossroads Within the Wall
Simply stated, we have a record of the essential characteristics of the city: a graphic symbol that represents both static and dynamic forces. To summarize Mumford, the city is both container and magnet. (Slide #1).
Activity # 1
The City of OX
The teacher can point out that the two basic elements of the hieroglyph are two letters (or two geometric shapes), O and X, (the latter may be seen as a plus sign (+) if it is rotated fortyfive degrees). The students can then create their own symbols for a city from other letters of the alphabet (or geometric shapes). These characters may then be superimposed over each other or even arranged in a series. The teacher should encourage the students to rotate the letters to explore their possibilities. Corporate logotypes and other trademarks make excellent examples for this activity.
The activity can be followed up by a discussion, evaluating the students’ creations, focusing it upon the degree to which their symbols meet the essential characteristics of communication/change and protection/identity.
The Heavenly City and The City of Man
This graphic symbol survives in Medieval diagrams of the city of Jerusalem and in schematizations of the order of the world. In these representations of Jerusalem, the roads multiply and the wall thickens and is seen in elevation. Individual stones are delineated along with a new feature, the city’s gates. These graphic additions may suggest that the wall is most certainly present. In general, “the celestial city seems to have come down on earth quite literally because abstract images are slowly replaced by realistic interpretations.”
Theological considerations play a role within these “maps”. Important locations and buildings are shown in elevation. Human figures have also entered the representation, but as one can see, they remain outside the walls of the city. (Slides #2 and #3.)
Latin is the language of the schemes that organize the entire known world. The circle is composed of more parts with a greater variety of shapes. The four directions are added to the outer perimeter, with the East typically appearing at the top. Theological considerations are equally privileged with the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and the serpent located at the uppermost section inside the circle. In some diagrams the ocean surrounds the world and bodies of water are the chief means of communication. In the last two examples, built form and human and mythological figures form a schematized landscape. The ornamental and symbolic (rather than the descriptive and realistic) functions predominate and patterned borders arise to fix the sphere of the known universe of representation. (Slides #’s 4,5,6,7,and 8.)
The Latin word
originally meant signal cloth, napkin, or towel—probably because early portable maps were drawn on cloth and used as signals or guides for armies moving across unknown terrain. In medieval times, the word
, “world”, was added to form
. . .
Southworth and Southworth
The world maps of the Middle Ages were almost entirely devoid of scientific value. Indeed at first glance, they seem completely fanciful. Their arrangement of the countries and continents of the world is grossly incorrect,. . .Empirical accuracy was evidently no concern of the makers of the
; but if they were indifferent to objective relations among the earth’s known points, they were very much concerned with man’s affective experience of the world, and this they represented by certain conventional spatial relations.
Leon Battista Alberti
Although the amount of information in these maps has increased and the shapes have become even more variegated, the graphic conventions in these
are similar to those in the previous diagrams. Theological considerations once again dictate that the Garden of Eden appear at the top in a circle that is detached from the rest of the land mass. Jerusalem, also a geometric circle (or a square), lies in the center of the
. God, heaven, and hell are drawn in profile or frontal views along with representations of real and mythical beasts. Special places are marked by real and fanciful figures rather than by items of accumulated fact. The Hereford Map has expanded the use of the decorative border to include drawings of figures and textual information. The scene in the border at the top of the map appears to be that of the Last Judgment. In general, the graphic articulation has not changed a great deal but has only multiplied. The increase in textual information suggests an attempt to combine visual and verbal representations in a narrative array. (Slides #9 and #10.)
Having surveyed the legacy of Medieval mapping techniques, we may anticipate some images of the Renaissance City.
The childlike spatial relations of these
are suggestive of dreamscapes. This characteristic can be used to full advantage in having the student create memory maps of their neighborhood or of their memories of the entire city. They can be executed in a circle of varying sizes depending on the amount of information a child is able to recall. In making a memory map of the city, the class as a whole can make a list of places and each of them can work to place them on his/her “map”. (This can also make for an exciting group activity while working on very large surfaces.) If students have traveled great distances, the boundaries of the maps can be extended to include state and national locations.
A useful corollary to performing this as a group activity is that students can create verbal descriptions that other students can sketch from. Photographs can be used to supplement this activity, but in order to retain the element of a memory map, they should not be present during the final act of picture-making.
Like these prospective memory maps the
were often drawn from verbal accounts of travelers.