Canvas Empire: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Wild Things

What can you learn from a map that is 300 years old and written in a language you (most likely) cannot read?

The map in question was made in Siberia. It shows one of the coldest, most remote parts of what was the Russian Empire. The only copy ever made is now in Houghton Library in Cambridge and you can flip through every page of the full atlas by clicking here.

The official name of the map is "Map of the town of Mangazeya and surrounding area," but we prefer to think of it as the "Wild Things" map. It won't take you long to figure out why. All maps tell stories, but this particular map never stops telling them - stories about fires and polar bears and dogsleds and more.

When you are ready to begin, click here.

(Don't worry if you can't read the words. To have fun with this map, all you need is your imagination and a mouse - touchscreens won't work.)

If you would like to download a PDF of the map, you can do so here.

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