GeoCarta Has Moved

Jan 11, 2007

Ancient African Maps Posted Online

The Northwestern University Library has posted its collection of rare maps of Africa online. The 113 maps, date from 1530 to 1915.

Curator David Easterbrook told the BBC that the antique maps not only show the growing geographical knowledge of Africa but the progression of colonisation.

"Early cartographers had not visited or surveyed the land, so they had to do their best guesswork," he told the BBC.

"The earliest maps show just how unreal the knowledge of Africa was in Europe at that time," Mr Easterbrook says.

The cartographers were often working from multiple and often varying accounts.

In some early examples, the River Nile is in the wrong place and many mountains, lakes and sources of precious minerals were based on hearsay.

The maps depict numerous ancient African kingdoms, including Abyssinia and Monomotapa.

Northwestern University Library website here.