Cartographies of Africa and Asia (1800–1945).
A Project for the Digitization of Maps of the Perthes Collection Gotha


The Map of Ethiopia by Hiob Ludolf and Abba Gorgoryos (1683) as a Source for Cultural Concepts and Indigenous Knowledge

The Orientalist Hiob Ludolf stands at the beginning of Ethiopian philology and early ethnographic research on north-east Africa. Ludolf’s works are remarkable in their richness of cultural information and their breadth. Especially his cooperation with the Ethiopian scholar and theologian Abba Gorgoryos is to be noted, who travelled from Rome to Gotha in 1652. With his help, Ludolf described the...


Mapping the Source Region of the Abbay/Blue Nile

The Nile, which traverses about 6,825 kilometres, from its farthest and most remote source in southern Rwanda to the Mediterranean Sea, is the longest river system on earth. It comprises two major tributaries, the White Nile and the Abbay, also called Blue Nile. The Abbay contributes the lion’s share to the Nile’s annual water flow (Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia...


Mapping Japan: Bruno Hassenstein’s Map of the “Surroundings of Tokyo Bay and of the Volcano Fuji-No-Yama” (1879)

In 1879, the scientific journal Dr. A. Petermann’s Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt (PGM) presented its readers with a detailed map of the Tokyo Bay area and Mount Fuji, offering more geographical information than other European maps of this region. This map, entitled The Surroundings of Tokyo Bay and of the Volcano Fuji-No-Yama (fig. 1), was the work of...


Emphasising the Unknown. The Emergence of Blank Spaces on 19th-century Maps of Africa

European exploration of Africa in the 19th century was based on the assumption that only little was known about the interior of the continent. For decades, geographical societies, cartographers, travellers and others repeatedly emphasised that the maps consisted of little more than just blank spaces which should be filled out in order to open up new trade opportunities, extend political...


Mapping an Entangled Past: An Interconnected Historical Map of Kafa (South-West Ethiopia) by Friedrich Julius Bieber (1905)

The development of the European cartography of north-east Africa was strongly associated with the 18th-, 19th‑ and early 20th-century missionaries and explorers. These travellers’ insights were informed by the local knowledge of indigenous people. Prior to the mid-19th century, European geographic knowledge about the diverse kingdoms in the south and south-west of Ethiopia was sparse compared to the more northern...


Milash as a Border-Marking Concept in the Setting of the Geohistory of Northern Ethiopia: The Case of Mereb-Milash

Northern Abyssinia (northern Ethiopia) is home to the ancient Aksumite Kingdom. Although its capital was in Aksum, the cultural boundaries of the kingdom extended as far as the modern state of Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula. According to Ethiopian and Eritrean sources, local borders were formulated using indigenous techniques to separate autonomous and semi-autonomous provinces. Borders that fall under this...

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