This passage taken from CAT 2017 Question Paper talks maps and directions. Read this passage thoroughly and try to grasp the gist of it and answer the question that follows. This question requires us to look for an exception. Will you be able to find the exception which the question talks about? Or will you end up with a "Damn, I missed it!"? These type of inference based questions occur very frequently in the VARC section of the CAT exam. To get a hang of such questions, it is important to practice CAT previous year paper in course of your CAT online preparation.
Understanding where you are in the world is a basic survival skill, which is why we, like most species come hard-wired with specialized brain areas to create cognitive maps of our surroundings. Where humans are unique, though, with the possible exception of honeybees, is that we try to communicate this understanding the world with others. We have along history of doing this by drawing maps – the earliest version yet discovered were scrawled on cave walls 14,000 years ago. Human cultures have been drawing them on stone tablets, papyrus, paper and now computer screens ever since.
Given such a long history of human map-making, it perhaps surprising that is only within the last few hundred years that north has been consistently considered to be at the top. In fact, for much of human history, north almost never appeared at the top, according to Jerry Brotton, a map historian... “North was rarely put at the top for the simple fact that north is where darkness comes from,” he says. “West is also very unlikely o be put at the top because west is where the sun disappears.”
Confusingly, early Chinese maps seem to buck this trend. But, Brotton, says, even though they did have compasses at the time, that isn’t the reason that they placed north at the top. Early Chinese compasses were actually oriented to point south, which was considered to be more desirable than deepest darkest north. But in Chinese maps, the emperor, who lived in the north of the country was always put at the top of the map, with everyone else, his loyal subjects, looking up towards him. “In Chinese culture the Emperor looks south because it’s where the winds come from, it’s a good direction. North is not very good but you are in a position of the subjection to the emperor, so you look up to him,” says Brotton.
Given that each culture has a very different idea of who, or what, they should look upto it’s perhaps not surprising that there is very little consistency in which way early maps pointed. In ancient Egyptian times the top of the world was east, the position of sunrise. Early Islamic maps favoured south at the top because most of the early Muslim cultures were north of Mecca, so they imagined looking up (south) towards it Christian maps from the same era (called Mappa Mundi) put east at the top, towards the Garden of Eden and with Jerusalem in the centre.
So when did everyone get together and decide that north was the top? It’s tempting to put it down to European explorers like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Megellan who were navigating by the North Star. But Brotton argues that these early explorers didn’t think of the world like that at all. “When Columbus describes the world it is in accordance with east being at the top,” he says “Columbus says he is going towards paradise, so his mentality is from a medieval mappa mundi.” We’ve got to remember, adds Brotton, that at the time, “no one knows what they are doing and where they are going.”
Question 2 : Early maps did NOT put north at the top for all the following reasons EXCEPT
Chinese maps put north on top.
The other options relate to why north was not put on top of maps. North is where darkness was thought to come from (see para 2). Para 4 explains that south and east were considered important for religious reasons by early Muslim and Christian cultures respectively.
The question is "Early maps did NOT put north at the top for all the following reasons EXCEPT"
Choice B is the correct answer.
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