Each scientific discipline needs certain general concepts of order to reach a distinct overall view on the great variety of detailed information concerning the respective discipline. History of cartography has developped several of these concepts based on cartographic elements, for example the accuracy of contemporary maps or the methods of relief representation, as well as social impacts, for instance the general availability of topographic maps showing the own country or the circulation of modern cartographic school media.
Due to the fact, however, that for several thousand years cartography and maps have been characteristic attributes of power having accompanied both the elites of social groups and the mightiest people among competing nations, this concept of order should be taken much more into consideration if we want to move the overall view in history of cartography to a higher level. Obviously, people who are able to fix, process and visualize space by themselves are superior to those people who are not.
The maps of the 15th and 16th centuries which first of all were published as "Tabulae modernae" and later on circulated in increased frequency as sheets of famous atlases, reflect the first cartographic period which due to these maps as physical representations mirrored a real consciousness of the respective communicative importance of territories. Research in history of cartography concerning this period as well as later historical stages for the most part has put the aspect of autochthonous or heteronomous origin of spatial data at the periphery of interest. The evidence mentioned above, however, should lead us to leave this attitude and to consider the issues of autochthonous and heteronomous cartographic periods of territories as basic concepts of order in history of cartography up to the present time.
These issues comprise several basic questions. First of all we have to find out whether the impetus to collect spatial data of a territory had been developped within the respective territory or outside. Other questions concern the persons or enterprises where the procedures of collecting and processing these spatial data up to reproduction and printing have taken place and the parameters which had influence on the way of visualization the spatial data.
In particular, the period of the 15th and 16th centuries, but also later stages of the Modern Times showed two contrasting ways towards published cartographic images.
The autochthonous path, for example, often led from a royal or princely order to a scholar who completed a topographic field survey of that royal or princely territory which later on was reduced in scale, given to a wood or a copper engraver and after all published for the honour of the king or the prince. This path was mirrored by the Apian map of Bavaria published in 1568.
The heteronomous sequence, for instance, could have started in the study of a scholar who aimed to publish his suggestions about the genesis of the universe - a cosmographia; for this reason he maintained a more or less vivid and extensive correspendence with learned people - if possible all over the world - to collect data of all kinds, particularly spatial ones. This method sometimes produced data quite coincidentally and without a good probability with regard to completeness and reliability. In general the scholar had very carefully to compare data from different sources, but was not able to control the data on the spot. A considerable part of the maps of Gerhard Mercator originated in this method.
We should not forget that in several cases important autochthonous cartographic efforts and results never saw the light of day, but had been taken into archives and remained secret. For example, the field sheets as well as the final drawings of the Öder-Zimmermann survey of Saxony which had been completed up to the first part of the Thirty Years' War were unveiled by Sophus Ruge not before 1880 - 250 years after their trip into the archives.
As a regional example from the heart of Europe showing different approaches and results of autochthonous and heteronomous cartographic periods from the 15th to 18th centuries I would like to present to you five stages of cartography of Brandenburg, the central province of the Prussian monarchy comprising the capital Berlin. The maps which will be mentioned had been analysed for the territory of Brandenburg only; other German areas might show different results.