Trends and Functions of Geography in the Five Period Forms


Societies create geographical knowledge. Formal and informal geographies are branches of geography. The former represent that which gets only accepted and recorded as such by the society within which gets produced. The latter gets created by individuals. What institutes to geography has to date stayed unclear but several types of topographical works get distinguished. The main types of geographical literature include works of geographers, writers who explicitly referred to geography but were not geographers, and works used as motivating sources by geographers where at the time they were written made no claim to be geographical. Also, geography development in various societies reveals a progressing trend from an unrecorded informal pre-geography, through a formal pre-geography to a precise geography. Trends and functions of geography in the five period forms the basis of this essay. Reasons why the times stood out and the purpose of geography in each get analyzed in detail.

Greek period

The Greek era got characterized by various trends. There existed a geographical tradition derived straight from the travels of educated persons and concerned with explanations of the earth and the individuals living on it. Another distinct culture was the mathematical and astronomical tradition concerned with the measurement of the globe. A spiritual tradition also existed and was concerned with countering queries about the very reason for human life on earth. Geography in this period became characterized by writing that enabled ratification of familiarity through verses and literary works. Concepts of the structure of the universe began gaining affluence with various definitions coming into effect. Additional noteworthy characteristic of the time was the initial serious efforts at expressing the known sphere cartographically. Consequently, Anaximander of Miletus was acknowledged as the author of the first map of the creation’s surface. There was augmented geographical awareness of the globe’s surface and first interest in it astronomical nature. The period saw the causes of solar eclipse redefined making the era stand out. The time became characterized by great Greek thinkers of the time like Pythagoras, Strabo, Ptolemy and Aristotle, who aided define the earth’s shape depiction. Alexander the Great extended the Greek world enabling the accuracy of Greek geographical works about the colonies.

Geography in this period was inventive and vibrant where proficiency of voyagers got circulated within societies. Through writing, topography formalized understanding and details of different parts of the then known world. Geography facilitated the consequent exploration and occupation of much of the Mediterranean by the Greek city states leading to the growth of knowledge. The Greek era marshaled a new phase where first precise measurement of the globe was carried out. Topography also facilitated the analysis of the world’s components that got used in redefining concepts. Geography had the purpose of enhancing conviction where Plato suggested that God was virtuous and had an orderly creation. Geography was considered to incorporate not only topographical imageries of the world but also queries of astronomy and teleology. Geography had a personal demeanor upon the role of commanders. The factor gets enabled by the fact that the greatest generals represent men capable of holding sway over land and sea, uniting nations under one government and political administration. Geography had the purpose of providing the information essential for rulers to triumph over more ground, and to retain power over their jurisdictions. Geography was also significant in matters of lesser concern like illustrated by the analogy of the hunter by Strabo.

Roman Times

Several factors made the Roman topographical period stand out. The era got characterized by practical, replicative, and stagnant geographies. The Roman spirit was different from the Greek and profoundly unwelcoming to the Greek tradition of probing inquiry. Classical geography was the most distinct of the time. Classical geography survived through this period due to the geographies of Strabo and Ptolemy. Several distinctive factors made classical geography stand out during the roman period. Among the trends that made the period stand out was topographical that involved the detailed description of places, accounting for the origin of human occupation thereby including a component of historical understanding. Another notable trend was the mathematical and cosmological concern with measurement denoted by Ptolemy’s geography considering the world’s position in the universe, and its correlation with the stars and planets. Geography was ethical in nature concerning the origins of life and the place of humanity in the natural world. Geography facilitated the use awareness about diverse areas and individuals intimately tied up with the exercise of political control throughout the Roman domains. Geography also had a particular function in the conquests, both in the eastern battles of Alexander and also in the ensuing Dominion of Europe and the Mediterranean by the Romans. The Persian conquests of Alexander got supported by earlier geographical writings and subsequent expansion in geographical knowledge as expressed in the writings of Dicaearchus and Eratosthenes.

Islamic Geography

The growth of the Islamic state and the spread of the Islamic conviction strongly impacted the advance of topography in Islam. Several factors made the period stand out. There was the rise of a need for geography as a supplementary discipline to regime and management. Islam conquests enabled access to the hypothetical and social heritage of occupied countries. The growth of new incentive and prospects for travel, survey, and long distance trade made the period distinct. Most terrestrial works combined features of science and literature composed in Arabic though non-Arabs and non-Muslims made impacts. Geography became regarded from a historical perception. Geography got characterized by copying other area’s topographical schedules like measurements and perspectives. By accommodating the seven latitudinal environments, Arabic scholars advanced mathematical geography making it more distinct. Reordering of the geographical reference books by administrators made the period stick out. The Atlas of Islam made the period stand out displaying roads and towns but giving no sign of coordinates or distance. A noteworthy occurrence that made the time stand out was Al-Idrisi, who used statistics produced by the Islamic and European geographers and explorers to conceive a large map. Other notable trends of the twelfth to sixteenth centuries were the advent of new genres. The categories included topographical glossaries, cosmography, travel accounts, and pilgrimage guides. The Ottoman geography was also a notable trend that started by propagating Arab cosmographic renditions to Persian and Greek interpretations. Geography assisted realize the association between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean. Geography expedited the spirit of survey and inquiry generating both dynamic travel and demand among the reading public for travel accounts. Geography served a distinct purpose in the enhancement of map production and distance measures. The Islamic cartography branch and cosmic topography focused on Mecca and direction of prayers. The factor got facilitated by the availability of physical maps of the Ka’ba for positioning the viewer to the sacred bearing of prayer from any location.

Early Modern Geographical Period

The time ranged from the start of the late Middle Ages characterized by European expeditions and conquest leading up to the rise of the major colonial authorities. Various factors made the period stand out at the time. Byzantium’s fall in 1453 facilitated the move by Henry the Navigator find new trade courses to Asia. The period got characterized with numerous explorers and adventurers who made significant influences in discovery trips. The period was distinct with drastic industrial novelty, atrocities for God and gold and augmented cognizance of the sphere’s exact size and shape. Wars of conquests was a notable trend that led to the development of new maps to seek aid from distant areas. The rise of Henry, the Navigator with his navigational crews and experience, made the period stand out. He instituted the school of navigation at Sagres to effect topographical and course-plotting skills to his crew. The Portuguese school used Arabian, Jewish, and Italian cartographers to plan maps for the seafarers. Geography played a significant role during this period by easing the production of standard plans and charts. These became used in takeover missions in Africa and other parts of the world. Geography smoothed navigation by offering courses to Arica and India where they captured Africans, turned them into slaves and took the African gold. The rise of recognized trade routes and innovation was a growing trend that enabled the Arabs, and Chinese surpass the Europeans. Geographical maps were used by Vasco Da Gama to reach new places and establish colonies.

Late Modern

The period was characterized by increased expansionist inclination where countries went overseas to reclaim more territories. Scientific geography facilitated the expansionist process as it provided routes and courses to the far countries. Geography had a wider educational value in explaining the man-land relationship, and development of states. Geography enabled people find their way round the planet and discover what lies beyond the seas. Militarism was common and was associated with geographical factors. Geography was taught in French military schools. Geography provided the troops with proper and precise directions and courses that improved their movements. Geography also enabled the army to be familiarized with the features of the country in question. The Franco-Prussian war also made the time stand out as it got characterized by significant geographical improvements Geography therefore, facilitated the development of overseas empires. The Portuguese had advanced geographical knowledge and were able to explore the world considerably. Navigation was gaining ground during the period, and geography played a vital role in facilitating expeditions and discovery missions. Geographical knowledge was essential in determining a country’s fate. Available routes to overseas colonies provided by geographical maps and experts ensured economic exploitation of the countries. The countries were able to buy cheap labor and sugarcanes from Africa thereby enhancing the slave trade. Geographical factors of the time took part in determining the course of events. The North Africa desert required great geographical awareness to go through and conquer territories. Without geographical awareness, the rise of major world powers and the colonization of countries would almost become impossible. Geographical maps enabled Vasco da Gama explore the world and create new colonies. Another main occurrence of the time was the construction of the first globe. Geographical importance of the world was that sea routes could clearly get seen. Geographical determinism became used as an ideological buttress for imperialism and racism. Geography had a big influence on culture and civilization.


In conclusion, the time periods discussed had distinct trends that made them stand out. Geography was instrumental in each and every period and served several purposes. In the Greek period, the notable trends were geographical, mathematical and astronomical, and theological traditions. The writing was also distinct. Among the purposes was facilitating conquests and retaining power among others. The Roman period got characterized by utilitarian, replicative, and stagnant geographies. Functions served by geography included facilitating conquests and other matters. Maps and emergence of new particular genres made the Islamic period stand out to mention a few. Geography served a distinct purpose in the enhancement of map production and distance measures. In the Early Modern period, explorations, navigations, and conquests were some of the notable trends that made the time stand out. Geography served the purpose of linking the countries thereby facilitating conquests, navigations, and explorations. In the late modern, capitalism, imperialism, and militarism from some of the auspicious factors marking the period. Geography served the function of facilitating the growth of empires and economic exploitations of colonies.