9.03 Dorothea McEwan

The history of cartography

Within the framework of the conference topic Ethiopia Diversity and Interconnections through Space and TimeI propose a panel on the history of cartography, which takes a closer look at the role maps, charts and textual descriptions of landscapes play.  Such documents serve a particularly important point, that of mirrors of what is seen or assumed as reality. Our endeavour as humans to orientate ourselves in the cosmos has led to important intellectual disciplines like astronomy on the one hand and religion on the other. To orientate ourselves in the environment has led to equally important disciplines like geography, geology, mineralogy, meteorology and others as a way of learning to live with and inside ones environment.
These disciplines use maps and charts, that is interpretative tools, to show not only the landscape, the rivers, seashores, mountains ranges, but also inform the decision making process of human intervention and interference in nature. Maps, therefore, give a picture of the situation on the ground and allow an interpretation of that situation. They are not static records, they are records of one point in time, the time of the mapmaker, and new developments produce as of necessity new charts and maps.
The History of Cartography panel draws attention to the history of maps, mapping and map making. It brings with it an inter-disciplinary approach presenting scholars in the arts, sciences, and humanities. The Panel encourages a broad view of maps to integrate existing scholarship with new research, examining a range of manuscript and printed maps.

The panel proceedings will be followed by a presentation by Dr. Dorothea McEwan devoted to the project "Georg Wilhelm Schimper - In Abyssinia. Observations on Tigre".


Dr. BEN-DROR Avishai 'Modern City' and 'Civilized Spheres': Reevaluating the Egyptian Cartography of Harär and its environments (1875-1885) 
Mr HOFFMANN Carsten Färänǧi  - a term and its meaning in Gəʿəz-literature
Dr. MCEWAN Dorothea Cartographical records of Ethiopia. A survey of the map collections in the British Library and the Royal Geographical Society, London
Dr. SMIDT Wolbert The Mekelle area before Mekelle: The documentation of Inderta in 19th century maps as a source for the historical geography of Ethiopia before modernisation