Assembling the world in an image: 15 of history's most revealing maps

John Hessler is a Specialist in Modern Cartography and Geographic Information Science, Geography and Map Division at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC. He is the author of Map: Exploring the World, published by Phaidon.

(CNN)The world is always changing, moving, never really in equilibrium. This is a feeling, a concept, a fact that mostly we avoid. Stability is what we as humans are drawn to as if by instinct, as there is no safety in motion or in change. We want to be grounded in a place, in a space, with which we are familiar.

Perhaps that is why throughout the centuries we have loved and created maps. Pictured on these surfaces is an image of our world and its spatial complexities abstracted and made simple; reduced from three-dimensions to an easier to handle two. Maps give us the illusion that nothing is changing, and that all the paths we want to travel are clearly marked for us to follow. At least that is how is used to be.
Click through to gallery above for maps that are as beautiful as they are informative.
Map: Exploring the World (Phaidon) is available now.