Spanish researchers claim that etchings made 14,000 years ago on a hand-sized stone represent a prehistoric hunting map: Journal of Human Evolution abstract, New Scientist, Daily Mail. From the New Scientist:
Above recognisable depictions of reindeer, a stag and some ibex are what Utrilla’s team believe is a representation of the landscape surrounding the cave. Several etched lines resemble the shapes of mountains that are visible from the cave. Long, meandering etches match the course of a river that runs at the foot of one of the mountains and splits into two tributaries. A series of strokes that cut across the river near the mountain could represent places where it was easily crossed, or even bridges, the researchers say.
But not all researchers are convinced; others argue that etchings were neither uncommon nor necessarily maps, and prehistoric people likely navigated through mental maps.
This find isn’t necessarily the oldest map in the world — the sidebar to the New Scientist article cites a 25,000-year-old map found in the Czech Republic — but it’s certainly bunches older than, say, the 8,200-year-old putative map of Çatalhöyük, the 2,500-year-old Soleto Map (links below), the 2,100-year-old Papyrus of Artemidorus, or other candidates.