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


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...



Reaching a big milestone in 2023, we completed the digitisation of more than 35,000 maps from the Perthes Collection in Gotha. It comprises cartographic pieces that were collected as well as produced by Justus Perthes, one of the world’s leading geographic publishing houses in the 19th century. Some of the most interesting maps and corresponding research have already been introduced...


Celebrating Cartographies of Africa and Asia and Their Complexities: Territoriality and Its Other

On the 12th and 13th of January 2023, we celebrated the successful completion of the project Cartographies of Africa and Asia (1800–1945). A Project for the Digitization of Maps of the Perthes Collection Gotha (KarAfAs) with our final conference Territoriality and Its Other at the Centre for Transcultural Studies in Gotha. More than 35,000 maps of the Perthes Collections depicting...


Mapping Asia 2022 in Gotha: International Perspectives on Historical Cartographies of Asia

With the end of the year in sight and a detailed conference report forthcoming, this short note serves to remember the international conference Mapping Asia: Cartography and the Construction of Territoriality, which took place on the 24th and 25th of November 2022 at the Centre for Transcultural Studies in Gotha. Being part and parcel of the project Cartographies of Africa...

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