“The most captivating places on a map are the places we have yet to go” - Plotting the Ambelia, Marcus Dargoeter, 766AL
Cartography in Benevis has a long and storied history. It is hard to say where the twin science and art of cartography finds its roots in Benevis, no doubt that the earliest maps were over smaller areas, and nearly always confined to the province of the creator and their immediate neighbors. It is impossible to know how much of the sphere was mapped out before 1AL, given both the significant changes to the landmass, and the scarcity of surviving documents before this time. The documents that do survive have been invaluable in our current knowledge.
The Age of The Sun
The only known surviving maps from the Age of the Sun were brought to Benevis by the Baturun travelers as they journeyed west from their homeland to the Umbener and Simber regions to explore and trade. The Nor region only obtained Baturun maps towards the end of the age. These maps are characterised by being almost entirely dedicated to the tradeways and migration paths of the Baturun people, with immense care given to the locations of cities, sources of water, and any dangers. All measurements are given in terms of days travel, either on foot, or by beast. Away from these paths, the maps sharply decrease in accuracy, though they are still informative as to the nations of this era in history.
The Grey Era
Those of the Red Temple are to thank for much of the surviving cartographic information from the Grey Era. The earliest kingdom that is recognisable today as part of Benevis was in the Nor region and its surrounding islands, and that is where the Red Temple’s maps are most accurate, though they do chart nearby coastlines as well. These maps were vital in the first years of the Age of Light, as knowledge was rebuilt. They are also of keen historical interest, as they show several long abandoned religious sites, though the priests of the Temple are reluctant to give up information regarding these. Dalmuver in the northern Nor region is also included on these maps, but all indications are that it was as ancient and mysterious as it is today to the Grey Era.
The other source from the Grey Era is that of the still mysterious Vesdorians, who came to prominence in the 8th century BD. After their eventual defeat, some of their maps were found, though it is commonly accepted that much of their knowledge was captured by the Xilou Hoqomer. Their maps, given that Vesdorians could fly, include rather different information than any other maps of the era. Most accurate in the Umbener region, but extending through some of the Simber and Seleru regions as well, these maps capture the shape of the land well, and were vital in constructing early maps of Umbener. Vesdorian maps have two characteristics that separate them from Red Temple maps of the same era. Firstly, whilst in general they capture more landmarks, their distances suffer from a slight lack of precision, most likely due to inconsistent altitude of scouting expeditions. The second is that Vesdorians maps are covered with arrows and circles. The most prevailing theory is that these were the wind patterns of the time.
The Light Era
This era of mapmaking builds foundations on one man, Nicolas Carson, the founding saint of science and magic in our age. Early during his life, before the institute was founded, he became interested in the mathematics of distance, and using triangulation, was able to chart a map of the eastern Umbener region (currently the Margon Kingdom) that has not yet been significantly improved upon. Even after his interest moved on to matters of magic, he still used his institute to send students throughout Benevis, charting more of the land. The transcription of the received information (‘triangle duty’) was a popular punishment for unruly students.
By the time of Carson’s death, his map of the Benevis Kingdoms was on the way to becoming a map of the world. It included regions as far east as the Bymir region, and as far north as the tip of the Granland Kingdom. An expedition through the southern parts of the Seleru region was also undertaken by Carson himself towards the end of his life.
After this, mapmaking was left stagnant for some decades, having been a passion project of Carson. As the third century AL approached, and the age of exploration began, mapmaking was suddenly thrust back into the spotlight. The first major addition to cartographer’s knowledge was the circumnavigation of the Barasca continent, which mapped out the coastlines south of Benevis. New lines of trade and diplomacy quickly opened up maps of the Temanea, Remdor, and Vaman Kingdoms. Land trade routes, some old Baturun design, showed us sections of the present Oolu Empire and Dunin.
The discovery of Liogons around 400AL resulted in a much faster rate of exploration towards the end of this era. They were properly tamed as the Silver Era began.
The Silver Era
Liogons were the defining trait of this era of cartography, allowing regions that would be far too arduous to chart on foot to be plotted out. Liogon mapping suffered the same problem as Vesdorians maps from thousands of years before, imprecise distances, but using Carson’s triangulation method, these errors were reduced significantly. Many maps were made in the early decades of the Silver Era, using Liogon scouting and new shipbuilding technology. One notable achievement was the mapping of the entirety of the Eber Empire.
These maps were all separate and inconsistent however, and none matched the quality of Carson’s earlier Benevis map. This changed when, in 765AL, Marcus Dargoeter, institute graduate turned seafarer, created the first united map of the world. The Dargoeter map, still in use to this day, has been added to as Benevis naval superiority has charted coastlines, and circumnavigated Riiga itself, together with Liogon corps dedicated to mapping the interiors of far more distant shores. Dargoeter would go on to found the Ambelian Academy, a college dedicated to cartography that works closely with the Carson Institute to this day, and is still headed by his descendants, currently Cadmus Dargoeter.
As it stands, the next avenues of exploration to fill in Benevis knowledge of the world further are explorations of the lands west of Remdor and the untamed continent south of Temanea. Sailors tell stories of a great undiscovered land of plenty far south of Remdor, but the veracity of these statements is questionable, and it is out of effective Liogon range, and in uncharted seas.
Article taken from “Current States of Riiga”, Cadmus Dargoeter, 986AL