In many editions of Tanach I’ve seen there are often maps of the middle eastern area in attempt to explain the places where certain events occurred. (For example, the journeys of יעקב אבינו or stuff that like of יהושע פרק י׳)

How long have maps been used by Jews to help understand the geography of the Israel region? I’d assume in Talmudic times it was probably considerably easier to visualize the locations, but as people relocated in the exile it may have become more difficult.

A point to note, that rabbis like Rashi demonstrate accurate knowledge of the region, although never having been there. Perhaps there was a tradition of maps, or that the geographic knowledge itself is part of the oral tradition/Torah.

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    Can you point to an example of Rashi demonstrating accurate knowledge of the geography of the Israel region? Note that many of his comments on Tanach are quotations of Midrashim that were written much earlier. – Isaac Moses Jul 20 '18 at 14:01
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    @IsaacMoses That's a very good point. Frequently Rash"i explains directions of places related to others. Much of it can be derived directly from verses as the Torah makes it quite obvious by stating "east, west", etc. However, there isn't that much stated about topography other than if a place is called "mountain" or "valley". E.g. from the Torah, I don't think one could conclude that Hebron is at a higher elevation than Be'er Sheva. – DanF Jul 20 '18 at 16:45
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    For a glimpse into Rashi's familiarity with cartography, see Benjamin Kedar's article here about the infamous maps depicted in the Munich ms. of Rashi al ha-Torah. Although his geographical knowledge, OTOH, was on account of his command of rabbinic (and biblical) sources. – Oliver Jul 20 '18 at 19:37
  • Do you ask since when the maps are printed at the back of the Chumashim or the Tanach instead of stand-alone? Or what are the earliest maps of the region? – Al Berko Jul 22 '18 at 15:03

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