How Leonardo da Vinci made a "satellite" map in 1502

It was a feat of technological and symbolic imagination. And it was pretty accurate, too.
Join the Video Lab to see Phil's Q&A!
Leonardo da Vinci’s known for his art and inventions - but also his groundbreaking maps, like this one of Imola, Italy. In this episode of Vox Almanac, Vox’s Phil Edwards explores how it was made.
Further reading:
1) John Pinto’s History of the Ichnographic City Plan is useful to understand the history of these maps.
2) Check out Portraying the City in Early Modern Europe: Measurement, Representation, and Planning by Hilary Ballon and David Friedman for more info.
3) If you want to dig deeper into early maps, Jessica Maier’s Mapping Past and Present: Leonardo Bufalini’s Plan of Rome is fascinating.
Please email Phil if you have trouble finding any of these papers.
Drafting 1502’s equivalent to a “satellite” map was a massive undertaking, and Leonardo managed to pull it off. His early map helped Italian politcian Cesare Borgia construct an idea of the town of Imola that was far more accurate than most contemporary maps. Through the use of careful measurements of angles and pacing out distances using a primitive odometer, Leonardo managed to create a map that was very close to accurate.
This map - an “ichnographic” map - was a step forward in portraying how maps could work to represent geography. Though it’s marked with some inaccuracies, it’s stunningly precise for the time and pushed forward the art of mapmaking. Leonardo’s Imola remains, even today, a remarkably useful guide to the city.
In Vox Almanac, Senior Producer Phil Edwards explains the world through history's footnotes.
Watch all of Vox Almanac here: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out
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  • gean lester

    gean lester

    Il y a 10 heures

    Vitruvius is an architect.

  • Abdurrahman Ark

    Abdurrahman Ark

    Il y a 20 heures

    I am thoroughly convinced this dude-Leonardo- must have lived multiple lifetimes with all his accomplishments. Art, Engineering, Anatomy? Yikes.

  • 6th Wilbury

    6th Wilbury

    Il y a 22 heures

    The words "effete of symbolic imagination..." that's from Willy Wonka, right?

  • TheseusTitan


    Il y a jour

    Gee, we make a bird’s eye view (plan view) drawings throughout the year and we never used a satellite yet!

  • EcoDimension


    Il y a 2 jours

    we need more genius's like him now more than ever

  • Ar Wi

    Ar Wi

    Il y a 3 jours

    Welcome in italy

  • Ryan T.A

    Ryan T.A

    Il y a 4 jours

    so we talk 'bout Leonardo in 1500s, but not prophet Muhammad (pbuh) 1400 years AGO. *_Typical_*

  • Helluva Dip

    Helluva Dip

    Il y a 4 jours

    So mellisa became an achoholic by drinking Modello

  • Dirk Diggler

    Dirk Diggler

    Il y a 4 jours

    *We all know it was really Ancient Aliens!*

  • Francisco Vazquez Avila

    Francisco Vazquez Avila

    Il y a 5 jours

    I think I got emotional out of the sheer brilliance of this person. It's impressive beyond words how someone like this actually existed. Not human

  • Sloppyballs McGuillicutty

    Sloppyballs McGuillicutty

    Il y a 5 jours

    Leonardo, such a smartypants.

  • rj


    Il y a 5 jours

    Da Vinci, was&is a god among men

  • Pan Damasque

    Pan Damasque

    Il y a 5 jours

    But where's the race track?

  • halie23


    Il y a 5 jours

    he just built a huge pole of dirt blocks and looked down

  • Dor Aran

    Dor Aran

    Il y a 5 jours

    Nerdy question; HOW extensive was Da Vinci's usage of the camera obscura?

  • Jason Richter

    Jason Richter

    Il y a 6 jours

    Good god people. Air balloons were around a long time before we had heavier than air, flight. In fact, every military battle for almost as long as we had fire, used air balloons for intelligence gathering.

  • Aprime


    Il y a 6 jours


  • Adrian


    Il y a 6 jours

    "maps from above" exsited from ancient times!! what are you talinkg about?? This guy skipped elementary school and then decided to make silly videos for stupid and naive people in order to make a living.

  • Haruki Kodama

    Haruki Kodama

    Il y a 6 jours

    16th century surveying 💯

  • Garouchieflol .Gaming

    Garouchieflol .Gaming

    Il y a 6 jours

    Vinci Maps 1502.

  • Every Shade Of Blue

    Every Shade Of Blue

    Il y a 6 jours

    plot twist: he was a time traveller..

  • Chris Smith

    Chris Smith

    Il y a 6 jours

    Sub to piewdepie

  • Marco Aurélio Lima do Nascimento Junior

    Marco Aurélio Lima do Nascimento Junior

    Il y a 6 jours

    Remarkable, a true genius!

  • Mita Skeledzija

    Mita Skeledzija

    Il y a 6 jours

    Like who watches Da Vinci's demons :)

  • Alex Bird

    Alex Bird

    Il y a 6 jours

    One word: ALIENS

  • Nose Nablo

    Nose Nablo

    Il y a 7 jours

    Da vinci's cognitive function is like a computer in compared to us to date.

  • jeff globalski

    jeff globalski

    Il y a 7 jours

    That "proper scale" comment was stupid as hell.

  • M Harley

    M Harley

    Il y a 7 jours

    You tell history sooo poetically

  • Neonsixx


    Il y a 7 jours

    They had flight back then more lies to cover up questions you can't just guess ...I can't believe how many sheep are born I see how the elite make so much money off people it's super easy

  • James Baucom

    James Baucom

    Il y a 7 jours

    Didnt he invent flying machines? He probably just floated around And yes I know they dont work. Unless we just misunderstand them.

  • Yalan Dünya

    Yalan Dünya

    Il y a 7 jours

    Fake !!! Not davinci! IT was PIRI REIS from Ottoman Empire !

  • Yalan Dünya

    Yalan Dünya

    Il y a 7 jours

    Not Da Vinci was it! Piri Reis war ein türkischer Admiral der osmanischen Flotte und Kartograph. Er verfasste ein bedeutendes Buch über die Seefahrt im Mittelmeer und sammelte und erstellte zahlreiche Karten, von denen heute die erst 1929 entdeckte sogenannte Karte des Piri Reis von 1513 die berühmteste ist. Wikipedia

  • Mighty V

    Mighty V

    Il y a 7 jours

    Capital: "We need to invent something revolutionary to gain might!" People named _Leonard_ in the 1500s: _Now this looks like a job for me_

  • iFarlander


    Il y a 7 jours

    Name of song around 4:00?

  • Vish_ious zod

    Vish_ious zod

    Il y a 7 jours

    Leonardo was abducted by aliens and they showed him how words looks... He just drew what he saw

  • Overdoze Exp

    Overdoze Exp

    Il y a 7 jours

    maybe he went above the city with a balloon? idk, but they used to have balloons back then

  • Toni Kemppainen

    Toni Kemppainen

    Il y a 7 jours

    Well I guess military pin-pointing accuracy just got upgraded.

  • mario soler

    mario soler

    Il y a 7 jours

    i know da vinci had access to a lot of important info, not surprised 'bout the findings "today's societies"..namaste forever

  • Re:Hilera


    Il y a 7 jours

    He probably walk every streets with his paper and his drawing tool, its like when you own a lot and some villages around... Also probably each paper he had he combine it every piece and turned it like that to make it more precise and accurate.

  • Depressed-Eggman


    Il y a 7 jours

    It actually looks like a cpu socket.

  • Meep Meepers

    Meep Meepers

    Il y a 7 jours

    Scroll down and see what mankind has to offer now

  • Kuti


    Il y a 7 jours

    Holyfk leonardo so damn smart like damnnn wish we had people that smart still today lol

  • cyber punk

    cyber punk

    Il y a 7 jours

    No one talks how Indian Gurusdescribed entire globe in 1000 BC

  • Erxandale


    Il y a 7 jours

    drones: Am I joke to you?

  • Sankalp Raut

    Sankalp Raut

    Il y a 7 jours

    At 4:10 the google earth changes the shape of Greenland.

  • Denmark Skywatch

    Denmark Skywatch

    Il y a 7 jours

    Remote viewing

  • null object

    null object

    Il y a 7 jours

    How Leonardo da Vinci 'probably' made a "satellite" map in 1502

  • Kendrick Leyson

    Kendrick Leyson

    Il y a 7 jours

    There's no other way to verify Da Vinci's work but through satellites. So therefore, he proved that satellites are possible.

  • Jesus ™

    Jesus ™

    Il y a 8 jours

    Leonardo da Vinci talks about " camera obscura " in his “Codex Atlanticus”, a twelve-volume bound set of his drawings, and kites have been around since about 300 BC, maybe they had some secret method of crude photo taking and developing. Would have been a highly guarded process and not something historians knew of

  • piscesman74


    Il y a 8 jours

    He used his brain. A rareity these days

  • Malik Suleman Awan

    Malik Suleman Awan

    Il y a 8 jours

    I'm not saying it's #Aliens but ...

  • spawn2882


    Il y a 8 jours

    To be more precise couldn’t be checked by satellite for hundreds of years... they could check his accuracy by using his methods... seems like true map making methods pre satellite anyway

  • FlOWOLF ॐ

    FlOWOLF ॐ

    Il y a 8 jours

    astral projection.

  • Zidan Havid

    Zidan Havid

    Il y a 8 jours

    Well, Leonardo davinci is the most broken character in the 1500

  • Freddy Chale

    Freddy Chale

    Il y a 8 jours

    *Sorry to Disappoint BUT Leonardo da Copy* (XVI century) used a description of the Odometer originally build by the GREEKS (20 B.C.) and recreated it. *BUT FAILED at it!* *Odometer* comes from the Greek: Hodos (path) Metron (measure). Hence its origin... So Leo probably used a technique called "Cartographic Perspective" less impressive, but effective. I doubt he invented it.

  • S B

    S B

    Il y a 8 jours

    Why does the video begin zooming in on an earth with no arctic ice?

  • Freddy Chale

    Freddy Chale

    Il y a 8 jours

    Leonardo da Google, version 0.0001: Hoped in his "Flying Machine" and used his "Camera Obscura" to make pics.

  • MrLucascanuto


    Il y a 8 jours

    I desperately need the name of the song at 2:13

  • Fredrik Nygren

    Fredrik Nygren

    Il y a 8 jours

    Some people in comments are too stupid to understand how difficult this is to do in the 1500s

  • Asczeiy ll

    Asczeiy ll

    Il y a 8 jours

    DaVinci roamed all over the place

  • Warner West

    Warner West

    Il y a 8 jours

    ....of his own town.

  • KiratCan Kerem

    KiratCan Kerem

    Il y a 8 jours v0.0.1 alpha.

  • Bigboss 69

    Bigboss 69

    Il y a 8 jours

    Did you guys knew that Leonardo da Vince is the one who invented the scissors

  • Ryan Davison

    Ryan Davison

    Il y a 8 jours

    How is he in titanic if he was also alive in the 1500s?

  • Neil Joe Ramos

    Neil Joe Ramos

    Il y a 8 jours

    For those who compare him with einstein. Let me put it in a simple analogy: satelite map vs blackhole picture. Gravity alone should make you realize how big of a gap is that. No pun intended.

  • sharat gupta

    sharat gupta

    Il y a 8 jours

    Leonardo da invincible

  • Gianni Flash

    Gianni Flash

    Il y a 8 jours

    just RESEARCH YOURSELF D.TUBE/#!/c/gianniflash

  • jozefsan


    Il y a 8 jours

    you should put question mark on the end of your video title.........because you didnt explain anything, just guesing how mybe it was done

  • Sirdgar Entropia

    Sirdgar Entropia

    Il y a 8 jours

    if he did more than one mesure at the same points.... that would had helped leo to get those precise drawings….i think he did that. but what do i know

  • David Karowski

    David Karowski

    Il y a 8 jours

    ... i would not call that a satellite map....

  • first one off youtube no more computers

    first one off youtube no more computers

    Il y a 8 jours

    I just feel sorry he never got to draw a dinosaur but it makes sense since the first hole dug wasn’t until around 1860 before that they didn’t know how to excavate the land.

  • first one off youtube no more computers

    first one off youtube no more computers

    Il y a 8 jours

    He adapted Eratosthenes well established method.

  • Siestrzewit No Longer Slaves

    Siestrzewit No Longer Slaves

    Il y a 8 jours

    he had been flying with aliens for two years ... so much is missing in his biography

  • patzsediego


    Il y a 8 jours

    he was on an alien spaceship when he drew those

  • Morethanlife 2020

    Morethanlife 2020

    Il y a 8 jours

    He probably attached a camera to a balloon since they didn’t have planes yet

  • Nisha Kanetkar

    Nisha Kanetkar

    Il y a 8 jours

    But but but He made it in 1500.....didnt the topography of that place change after all these centuries of development??? Or did he make map of the future?

  • chichy hasani

    chichy hasani

    Il y a 8 jours

    satellite?? DROHNE

  • Alix Gerzich

    Alix Gerzich

    Il y a 8 jours

    There's no way he could calculate or measure this...Just like egyptians didn't measure and calculated how to build the pyramids... It has to be something else that Vatican is hiding from us...

  • Arka Navarro

    Arka Navarro

    Il y a 8 jours


  • Fairuz Hussaini

    Fairuz Hussaini

    Il y a 8 jours

    Legend has it that it was him who designed de_dust.

  • Anushtup Biswas

    Anushtup Biswas

    Il y a 2 jours


  • *CedakRC C.*

    *CedakRC C.*

    Il y a 8 jours

    He used every cheat code, duh.

  • Пацантрэ ВащеРебята

    Пацантрэ ВащеРебята

    Il y a 8 jours

    How? Because he's engineer that's how.

  • Luvin Sama

    Luvin Sama

    Il y a 8 jours

    This is pretty cool, but he also made the worst vehicle mission in history.

  • Seferino


    Il y a 8 jours

    He was definitely a genius.

  • dabndangle gg

    dabndangle gg

    Il y a 8 jours

    Tittle should of said how he probably did it

  • Drippy Dong 9

    Drippy Dong 9

    Il y a 8 jours

    Wait this is the actor? The one from The Departed? And the titanic movie? Holy crap he’s been through a lot

  • Augh Bable

    Augh Bable

    Il y a 8 jours

    Ahead of its time !

  • Let me reach 10101 Subscribers pls.

    Let me reach 10101 Subscribers pls.

    Il y a 8 jours

    Leonardo's a genuis aswell

  • Li Jemayne

    Li Jemayne

    Il y a 8 jours

    Da Vinci's too amazing.

  • Crinklyten 215

    Crinklyten 215

    Il y a 8 jours

    I'm calling Bs, I sure he probably used a drone.

  • Jakob Nielson

    Jakob Nielson

    Il y a 8 jours

    Hot air ballon

  • Liam Boon Aik

    Liam Boon Aik

    Il y a 8 jours

    People on the street though he was doing something weird and dumb, and yet this working is analysed by modern us.

  • Ray Mak

    Ray Mak

    Il y a 8 jours

    Leonardo invented our maps on GPS

  • tuban body slammer

    tuban body slammer

    Il y a 8 jours

    Aren’t these pictures taken by planes and not satellites?

  • spoc


    Il y a 6 jours

    +tuban body slammer Can't you literally just google it? "Explore worldwide satellite imagery and 3D buildings and terrain for hundreds of cities. Zoom to your house or anywhere else, then dive in for a 360° perspective with Street View. "

  • tuban body slammer

    tuban body slammer

    Il y a 6 jours

    I know this is pretty hypocritical of me, but if you could site a source that would be preferred

  • spoc


    Il y a 6 jours

    no they're taken by satellites

  • Nothing But Blueskies

    Nothing But Blueskies

    Il y a 9 jours

    Its not a satalite map its called a site map he was an architect and a planner as well thats why read a little about architectural drawings and planning instead of making up things.

  • Liudas Gaska

    Liudas Gaska

    Il y a 9 jours

    i know easier way go to bed, astral project, rise above your town wake up and draw all that, simple, when you use right tools

  • Asriel Dreemurr

    Asriel Dreemurr

    Il y a 7 jours

    youd need alot of spiritual stones that contains atleast 20% Oxygen

  • Kristjan


    Il y a 7 jours

    Crazy people have the most fun it seems

  • Meep Meepers

    Meep Meepers

    Il y a 7 jours

    You give demons domion every time you do that

  • Iam Youniverse

    Iam Youniverse

    Il y a 7 jours

    Liudas Gaska leave them be

  • Hessam Ranjbar

    Hessam Ranjbar

    Il y a 9 jours

    VOX is hands down my favourite channel on FRdownload

  • fur king el

    fur king el

    Il y a 9 jours

    being a topographical surveyor i love this video knowing i do this stuff every day lol i have drawers full of notes exactly like 2:11

  • Andromediens


    Il y a 9 jours

    This man was clearly 300 iQ

  • Supernova


    Il y a 9 jours

    Architects kinda do this everyday in CAD tho, there is no satellite view of a city block or house that wasn't built yet.