Tagged: Africa

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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...

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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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Unveiling Map Making: A Cartographer’s Account

On Friday, May 4, 1906, Bruno Domann left his desk at the Perthes publishing house in Gotha carrying travel accounts, maps and instruments. However, he did not take the materials home in order to finish maps for the new printing run of the Stieler’s Hand-Atlas or Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen. Domann was on his way to the inn Zum Schützen, where...

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Perthes and Heinrich Barth: Publishing (as) a German Success Story – Part II

One of the most important legacies of August Petermann was undoubtedly his founding and editorship of the Mittheilungen aus Justus Perthes’ Geographischer Anstalt (later Petermann’s Geographische Mittheilungen, or PGM) in 1855, a scientific and cartographical journal that was widely received by expert communities as well as by an interested general public. Given its wide distribution and general acclaim, the journal...

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Mapping a Fantasy: The Suez Canal Project in 1855

Part map and part perspective view, the “Vue panoramatique” depicts a geopolitical fantasy in the year 1855: the construction of the Suez Canal was to start only four years later, and it would take another decade until the first ships were seen crossing the desert. In 1855, the project of the Suez Canal was still the subject of fierce quarrels....

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Drawing Colonial Lines: Between Armchair Cartography and On-Site Observation

On May 16, 1893, the cartographer Paul Langhans (1867–1952) wrote to German explorer Joachim Graf von Pfeil und Klein-Ellguth (1857–1924), a former farmer in the Orange Free State and colonial politician: “Highly esteemed Count! […] The crossing of Neu-Mecklenburg in 1:200,000 is now in autography, […]. I request a short text for the map, according to which also the lettering...

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