ABSTRACTS OF PAPERS TO BE DELIVERED AT
THE 48th ANNUAL MEETING OF
THE SOCIETY FOR THE HISTORY OF DISCOVERIES
Chicago, Illinois, USA
November 11-13, 2007
ARRANGED ALPHABETICALLY BY AUTHOR
Uncharted Seas: European Polynesian Encounters in the Age of Discoveries
Winner SHD 2007 Prize Essay Contest
Recent ethnographically informed research has begun to counter the traditional “Great Men” histories and overly simplified narratives of colonial expansion that have dominated studies of early European – Polynesian cross-cultural encounters. Yet the sub-cultural divisions of the European side of the early encounters are yet to be fully explored. Important social and cultural divisions separated ships’ officers and scientists from the seamen and marines with whom they traveled. While these divisions have been recognized for some time by maritime historians, there has been little assessment of their implications for understanding early European - Polynesian encounters. Officers and common sailors perceived different opportunities in their interaction with Polynesians, and attempted to shape their encounters with native populations in different ways. Evidence of this differentiated experience is to be found in the journals of European captains, from Bougainville to Bligh. They reveal the officers’ concerns with their crews’ enculturation and their attempts to control the men’s exchanges with the islanders. Effectively, the early contact period witnessed the evolution of a new social group with a distinctive sub-culture: seamen of the South Pacific. First contacts in the Pacific cannot be fully understood without recognizing the social heterogeneity of the European crews, and the importance of a new group of boundary crossers: men whose place was neither fully in the European nor the Polynesian world.
The Reverend Thomas Wakefield:
Unsung Geographer and Mapmaker in Late 19th Century Kenya
Sanford H. Bederman
Thomas Wakefield (1836-1901) served as a Methodist missionary in Kenya for twenty-seven years (1861-1888), a most remarkable feat in itself. “Bwana Wakfili” was not as famous as David Livingstone or Ludwig Krapf, but in the English geographical establishment, he was highly regarded as an explorer and collector of geographical data. He was awarded a Murchison Grant by the R.G.S. in 1882, and was named a Fellow of the society in 1889. During his years in East Africa, Wakefield counted Sir John Kirk (longtime English Consul in Zanzibar), Sir Henry Bartle Frere, Sir James Augustus Grant (John Speke’s companion on the Nile), Keith Johnston, Jr., and E.G. Ravenstein as his friends, and he provided important aid to explorer Joseph Thomson when he made his journey to Masailand and Kilimanjaro in 1883. When the African Exploration Fund was established by the Royal Geographical Society in the late 1870s, its representative, James Grant, asked Wakefield to lead one of its planned forays into the interior. Because of his concern for the welfare of his mission at Ribe (near Mombasa), Wakefield declined the commission. Further, Wakefield made four trips from Ribe into unknown parts of eastern Kenya inhabited by intransigent Galla tribesmen, and each was the subject of an article published by the Royal Geographical Society in its journals. Wakefield is best known for his method of gathering geographical data from members of native trading caravans, which resulted in compiling his “unique” A Map Showing the Routes of Some Native Caravans from the Coast to the Interior of Eastern Africa… (1870). During his “recreations,” he avidly collected botanical specimens for Kew Gardens in England, or he translated the bible into local native languages, particularly Kiswahili. This paper gives special attention to the map of native caravan routes, which was prepared and drafted by cartographer Keith Johnston, Jr. How E.G. Ravenstein utilized Wakefield’s geographical notes to produce his famous map of East Africa will also be discussed.
Choosing the images to go with a new
Oxford Companion to World Exploration
The new Companion emerged out of a collaboration between The Newberry Library and Oxford University Press, with most of the images drawn from the library' holdings. This evening we shall look at some of these images, and think about what they mean for the theme of exploration.
The experience of over forty years spent working with early maps - first as a dealer and then as a librarian - will be drawn upon in considering different meanings of the word 'discovery'. For example, some maps of note were 'discovered' in the course of normal trading activities, while others had been in their library resting-places for centuries.
But this is the Society for the History of Discoveries and the over-arching event is the Festival of Maps. The two histories, of discovery and cartography, have much to teach each other. Using selected map examples, I will suggest that the transfer of travel information into cartographic form can sometimes offer surprises. For instance, what, for map-makers of the time, was the most important discovery relating to 17th-century America? The answer may not be what you expected.
Should all maps of geographical discoveries be treated at face value, as a true record? Proving fabrication can be difficult but a 'smoking gun' unmasks one inventive cartographer, and a famous lunar cartographer can be shown to have indulged in a romantic jeu d'esprit.
Progressions in Imagery:
Cannibalism and Indians in Cartography
This paper explores the changing cartographic imagery of Amerindians during the Age of Discovery. Studying the maps created during the early European exploration and colonization of the Americas provides an opportunity to chart the progression of knowledge about the indigenous people encountered. As Europeans explored the New World, they used maps to validate both their accurate and unfounded beliefs about Indians. They also used cartographic imagery to record their changing understanding of these peoples and the land. Identifying and studying the changing imagery and its placement on the cartography of the New World provides an alternative approach to traditional historic studies.
A Utopian Mirage:
The Hermannsburg Mission in Central Australia, 1877-1978
Karen Severud Cook
In October 1875 German Lutheran missionaries set out from South Australia, driving horses, cattle and sheep northwest toward the Finke River in remote Central Australia. They hoped conversion to Christianity and settlement in self-sufficient farming communities could save “uncorrupted” Aborigines from extinction. Beset by heat and drought, the 18-month trek of 800 miles tested endurance. An advance party climbed a hill overlooking the 200-square-mile Mission lease in July 1876 and decided to stay. With both natural resources and heathens apparently abundant there, a missionary utopia seemed within grasp.
But then Pastor Heidenreich, their leader, lost his best map descending the hill. Reading that comment in a history of the Mission raised questions. What map? Who drew it? What kind of landscape did it show? The account said the Mission ceased operation in the 1970s, and its lands became Aboriginal property. The lost map became my metaphor for the fate of the Mission. How had the missionaries lost their way?
Existing studies of the Hermannsburg Mission focus on biographies of staff and their missionary work. Subsistence strategies, also vital, are mentioned only in passing. Seeking more information, I found records telling the Mission’s own story in Lutheran archives. Other Australian libraries and archives provided broader historical context. A printed map given to the missionaries in 1874 by William Christie Gosse, who explored Central Ausralia in 1872, invited comparison with variant maps by Gosse and Ernest Giles, another explorer. Yes, the mission site does appear deceptively well watered and grassed on Gosse’s map, but siting the Mission was only the first step. Even missionaries familiar with southeastern Australia failed to anticipate the inland climatic extremes. Stubbornly they hung on, adapting agricultural practices to conditions of drought, heat and occasional flood, but the unpredictable climate made subsistence marginal. They accomplished much, converting many Aborigines, defending them against persecution, and providing work and food, but the paternalistic Mission lifestyle collapsed when indigenous land rights were recognized in the 1970s.
The Lutheran church is still active in Hermannsburg but on Aboriginal terms. The Hermannsburg missionaries, who set out to change Aboriginal culture, also found themselves changing in response to the harsh physical environment and resilient Aboriginal culture of Central Australia. Meanwhile, attitudes toward Aborigines changed Australia-wide, and the original utopian vision became a mirage.
“He Who Pays the Piper Calls the Tune”:
How Expedition Sponsors Give Shape to the Unfamiliar
Richard C. Davis
While everyone readily accepts that sponsors of exploratory expeditions gave specific instructions to their leaders about where to go and what to look for, few of us think about how sponsors shaped the written record of that exploration. Yet in almost every instance, expedition leaders were required to keep a daily journal of their activities and to submit such journals to the sponsor upon the journey’s end. Because these records often became the basis of public book-length narratives of an expedition, which in turn gave shape to how the public was conditioned to view new lands and peoples, the sponsor’s instructions about journal-keeping played a surprisingly influential role in how a society came to look upon unfamiliar places.
This presentation will look at instructions about record keeping during the late-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will attempt to generalize from wide-ranging practices used by government, commercial, scientific, and military sponsors. Such instructions range from broad generic directions to ‘keep a Journal of your route and proceedings, describing therein every remarkable object that may occur” (as Lord Bathurst of the British Admiralty wrote to John Franklin in 1819) to a meticulously-detailed two-page template to be filled out each day, as The Royal Geographical Society of Australasia required of the man it chose to lead the Elder Scientific Exploration Expedition of 1891-92. The presentation will also explore the relationship between standard maritime documents such as ships’ logs and the daily entries that expedition leaders made in their journals, since the printed form of the log represents another way in which sponsors controlled the written records of exploration.
John Dee and the Mystical Imperialism of Elizabethan England
John Dee, the noted Elizabethan scholar and magus, had a profound effect on those Elizabethan Americans (A. L. Rowse). This paper attempts to investigate Dee’s importance in the overall imagining of the English explorers of the mid to late sixteenth century.
John Dee was one of England’s foremost scholars and intellects. Dee had studied geography and chorography under Gerard Mercator and Gemma Frisius. Dee had brought to England geographical manuscripts as well as navigational instruments including a brass astrolabe and two globes constructed by Mercator. Dee corresponded regularly with Abraham Ortelius and Pedro Nuñez. He had amassed one of England’s largest private libraries of his day at his home in Mortlake. Dee’s library contained seven copies of Ptolemy’s Geographica, along with geographical and navigational authorities such as Arrian, Albert Krantz, Sebastian Münster, Giovanni Battista Ramusio, Strabo and André Thevet.
While Dee was an imminent scholar in these various academic fields, he was extremely concerned with their practical applications. No Elizabethan voyage of exploration began without a visit to Mortlake. All of the great Elizabethan explorers relied upon Dee’s knowledge and wisdom both in geography and navigation. Martin Frobisher, Richard Chancellor, Arthur Pet, Charles Jackman, Humphrey Gilbert and Sir Walter Ralegh all made regular and frequent visits to Dee’s residence. Even high ranking officials of Elizabeth’s court paid Dee a visit, including Secretary Walsingham, Lord Burghley and the queen herself. Dee had been the principal source of geographic information for the Muscovy Company and the search for the Northeast Passage.
Of particular focus in this paper is the cartography of John Dee. Principally of concern are Dee’s two maps of North America, 1580 and 1583 (the Humphrey Gilbert Map).
“Hic est vera forma moderna:”
The Island Books of Henricus Martellus Germanus, 1475-1490
Henricus Martellus Germanus was a cartographer, assumed to be German, active in Florence in the last quarter of the 15th century and closely associated with Francesco Rosselli. He produced several editions of Ptolemy, a large wall map now at Yale University, and five editions of Christopher Buondelmonti’s Book of Islands of the Archipelago. Buondelmonti’s work, which dates from 1420, was an illustrated catalog of the islands of the Aegean Sea. Martellus, in successive versions of the book, rewrote the descriptions and added islands from the rest of the world, as well as sea charts and tabulae modernae from recent editions of Ptolemy. He also included a world map that showed, among other features, the progress of the Portuguese down the west African coast. The paper will analyze some of the changes in successive editions and relate them to the state of cartography on the eve of Columbus’s voyage.
Modelling early nautical charts with empirical map projections
Joaquim Alves Gaspar
Two distinct models of nautical chart preceded, in Europe, the adoption of the Mercator projection as a navigational tool: the portolan chart, used in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and coastal European waters probably from the 13th century on, and the Atlantic chart, which evolved from the first as a result of the introduction of the navigational astronomy, and was used for more than two centuries until the Mercator model was fully adopted in the 18th century. Little is known about the origin of the portolan chart and the techniques used in its construction. From the various theories suggested in the literature, seem to prevail those asserting that it was developed by Genovese and Majorcan pilots during the 13th century and that its construction was based on the magnetic directions and estimated distances observed by the pilots at sea. On the contrary, it is well established that the Atlantic nautical charts developed by the Portuguese in the last quarter of the 15th century were constructed on the basis of observed latitudes, magnetic directions and estimated distances obtained at sea, which were transferred directly onto the plane as if the Earth were flat. This is clearly documented in written historical sources, notwithstanding the theory of the so-called “plattes carrées” has managed to survive until our days and continue to be cited in some literature.
In the research here presented cartometric methods are first used to analyse portolan charts and early Atlantic charts, with the objective of characterize their geometry and assess cartographic distortions and inconsistencies. Using the techniques of multidimensional scaling generalized to spherical directions and distances, and taking into account the navigational methods and maritime routes used at the time, the construction of the old charts is then simulated with numerical models here called “empirical map projections”. From the comparison of the model results with extant charts important insights are obtained on the construction methods and the influence of magnetic declination on their geometry. It is concluded that this kind of model is a powerful tool in the analysis of the geometry of early nautical charts of undefined map projection.
Exploration and description of Chateau Bay, Labrador, 1000-1830 A.D.
Donald D. Hogarth
Chateau Bay, with its well known basaltic pillars perched high above the ocean, is a site of historic importance. Possibly first seen by the Vikings (ca 1000 A.D.), the landmark was certainly known to Breton fishermen and Basque whalers in the 16th century. Cartier was directed by the Court of St. Malo (1533) to seek it and steer past it in his first voyage. "Chasteaux" appeared on maps of Mercator (from 1569) and Ortelius (from 1570). Fortification at some elevated vantage point was recommended by the Bristol entrepreneur Anthony Parkhurst, in order to protect English fishermen in the harbor below. After a lull of two centuries, a preliminary hydrographic survey was made by Lieut. David Rogers, of the Royal Artillery (1760), and a more detailed survey prepared by Capt. James Cook, R.N. (1764). On the mainland nearby, a fort was finally built (1766), following the recommendation of the Governor, Sir Hugh Palliser, but it lasted for 20 years only. Then the columns were observed and briefly compared with those of The Giant's Causeway, Ireland and Fingal's Cave, Scotland, by Lieut. Edward Chappell, R.N. (1818). But, by this time, Chateau Bay was well known to European traders. Nine years later the two basaltic islands at the entrance to the bay were examined by Capt. Charles Campbell, a Scottish veteran of the Peninsular War. His was one of the first detailed descriptions (1829) of columnar basalt in the Americas. The three spurts of activity (1000- 1010?, 1530 -1580, 1760-1830) had been prompted by dreams of imperialism and wealth, but impeded by "poor press" in Europe and hoards of voracious mosquitoes along the Labrador coast, as well as inclement weather and prevalent lawlessness (piracy and theft) in the Strait of Belle Isle.
The Little-Known Vesconte Maggiolo MS World Map of 1504
and Its Relationship to Other Early World Maps
Gregory C. McIntosh
The little-known Vesconte Maggiolo manuscript world map of 1504, housed in the Biblioteca Federiciana in Fano, Italy, provides important clues for determining the dates of other manuscript world maps of the early sixteenth century and for a better understanding of the transmission of information among the makers of these early maps.
Of the almost two-dozen manuscript world maps made in the first decade of the sixteenth century, only two have the date of production inscribed upon them: the Juan de la Cosa map of 1500 and the Fano Maggiolo of 1504. The extant La Cosa map, though ostensibly dated at 1500, is usually thought to be a copy of a few years later. In addition, the Cantino planisphere of 1502, by a manuscript note on the back of the parchment and extant contemporary correspondence, can be dated to the fall of 1502.
The Fano Maggiolo manuscript world map, however, has an inscription giving us the exact date of the completion of the map: “Ego Vesconte de Maillo compoxuy anc cartam de anno dni 15.4 die viii juny in civitatem Janua” [I, Vesconte Maggiolo, composed this chart in the year of our Lord 1504 on the 8th day of June in the city of Genoa].
The Fano Maggiolo world map displays features and place-names that indicate Vesconte Maggiolo probably used the Caveri (Canerio) map as the basis for his depiction of the Old World for his 1504 map. Some of these features are Scandinavia, the Red Sea, the Arabian Peninsula, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Peninsula. The place-names of interest in this analysis are some of those on the coast of Brazil. In addition, it appears Maggiolo also augmented and modified his sources with features peculiar to his map-making activities, particularly the depiction of the Caspian Sea, based upon surveys by the Genoese. This allows us to limit the date of the Caveri (Canerio) to 1503 or 1504. Further, additional features and place-names of Maggiolo's map indicate that it was probably used by the maker of the Kunstmann II map for most of his Old World and New World depictions. This allows us to specify the dating of the Kunstmann II map to 1504 or later, that is, after the Fano Maggiolo map was made in June of 1504.
The Caveri (Canerio) is already noted as the progenitor of Martin Waldseemüller's printed world maps of 1507, 1513, and 1516. The above analysis indicates that the Caveri (Canerio) was also the progenitor of the Fano Maggiolo of 1504 and, thus, indirectly, of the Kunstmann II manuscript world map.
A Re-Examination of the Antilia Question
and the Question of Mapmaker's Sources
Benjamin B. Olshin
A large, rectangular island looms out in the Atlantic on a series of fifteenth-century maps - the mysterious Antilia, sometimes also known as the "Isle of the Seven Cities". At times, it is accompanied by a second isle of similar shape, an isle with the fearful name of Satanazes. These diminutive cartographic entities have generated no small share of academic debate: are they the whim of an early cartographer? Are they representations based on the reports of medieval navigators venturing out into the western reaches of the Atlantic? Are they evidence of a pre-Columbian European landfall in America?
The problem in answering such questions is the fact that we only have a limited amount of historical source material: a group of maps and a few references in some texts. The debates have focused on problems of interpretation, particularly of the maps. However, the participants in these debates have fallen into several pitfalls - pitfalls that address in our presentation. First of all, many contemporary writers have sought to compare these early maps and charts to modern ones, comparing distances, configurations of coastlines, and so on. This is not a fruitful approach; rather, we should try to understand the worldview of the early European cartographers, and their reasons for depicting various locales as they did. In addition, some of the debates concerning Antilia have been tainted with nationalistic fervour, in an effort to find proof of other voyages to the New World prior to Columbus. This kind of thinking has no place in academic analysis.
Finally - and most importantly - other analyses of the Antilia question have failed to look into two significant aspects of the island's depiction; it is these two aspects which will be the core of this presentation: First, what is the relation of this island to other depictions of islands, and unknown territories in general in early maps? Did early mapmakers have a certain modus operandi when dealing with unknown lands, or rumoured lands? Did early mapmakers represent such spaces with certain shapes, or particular cartographic conventions? Second, what is the significance of the toponymy of Antilia: the island is drawn on early maps and charts with several bays, which appear with rather peculiar names. No one has attempted any kind of thorough analysis of these names, despite the fact that they could provide a clue as to the island's raison d'etre on these fifteenth century charts. This presentation will discuss the Antilia problem from this toponymic and linguistic perspective as well.
“Thou by thine Art dost so Anatomize”:
Maps, Anatomy, and Learned Bodies in Early Modern Ireland
William Petty, Surgeon-General and later Surveyor-General to the Cromwellian Army in Ireland, was a pioneer in the fields of medicine, cartography, and political economy. For Petty, each of these fields was linked by a common methodology: that of the still-youthful field of anatomy. Petty was not the first to link anatomy to cartography, Sir John Davies having commended the anatomical character of John Speed’s maps of Ireland in 1611.
I wish in the course of this paper to investigate the implications of the use of the analogy of anatomy to describe the cartographic project in Ireland in the seventeenth century. The use of this analogy by Davies, Speed, and Petty, I believe, allows us to formulate a theory about the historical nature of seventeenth-century mapping, even in the relentlessly non-historical work of Petty. The analogy allows us to connect the cartographic issues of history, toponymy, scale, and utility. Ireland’s status as colony provided for these writers a unique opportunity to think of their work in a scientific and experimental way, allowing them to attempt new ways of describing and charting the history and geography of the country.
This paper situates itself with regard to contemporary scholarship on the increasingly scientific nature of mapping in the seventeenth century, and on the advances in accuracy in mapping. This scientific nature, however, masks a continued political, fantastical, and narrative element to maps, and this tension is, I believe, revealed in the use of the anatomical analogy. Although my primary materials are gathered from seventeenth-century Ireland, this paper has relevance for much of early-modern European mapping, and situates map-making in its contemporary setting as one among a number of competing subfields of natural philosophy. Attention to anatomy and mapping together allows the beginnings of a description of the seventeenth century as not so much a time when scientific mapping triumphed, but when maps engaged critically in the emergence of a Baconian natural history.
Ruysch, Waldseemüller, and the Mapping of America: 1507-2007
2007 marks the 500th anniversary of three maps significant to the early history of the mapping of the Americas: the Johannes Ruysch world map and the Martin Waldseemüller globe gores and wall maps. For nearly 400 years, the Ruysch map was believed to be the first printed map to depict the Americas; the Waldseemüller maps, when they became known to the modern world, superseded Ruysch's map by only months. The Waldseemüller maps are the first maps to use the name America and the first to depict the Western Hemisphere. All three maps have problematic printing histories, are based on questionable sources, and scholars cannot agree on how to date their various states. This paper will take a new, comparative look at these significant yet controversial maps within the context of current scholarship.
In 1896, John Boyd Thacher published an important modern study of these and other early maps of the Americas, The Continent of America. Its discovery and baptism. In the preface to that work, Thacher wrote: "The chief purpose of this book is to establish the time and place of the naming of America." At that time, the Waldseemüller planisphere—the 12 panel wall map—was considered a "lost" map, one referred to in print but no longer extant. Thacher believed that Waldseemüller's 1513 planisphere was a mere reprint of the lost 1507 map. The Waldseemüller globe gores--the Hauslaub-Liechtenstein copy—Thacher dismissed as insignificant because a date was not printed on it and its provenance questionable; he lumped it together with the numerous forgeries that were forever making an appearance and acknowledged a possible date of 1509. The first map to name America according to Thacher was a 1518 map by Petrus Apianus.
Twentieth-century scholarship has added to Thacher's work—the lost 1507 planisphere is now found and the Hauslaub-Liechtenstein globe has been legitimized-- yet we have not advanced our understanding of these maps to any great degree. As both the Library of Congress and the James Ford Bell Library celebrate the 500th anniversary of "America's Birth Certificate" and the "Map that Named America," respectively, it is time to cast another critical eye on the naming of America and its consequences.
Arthur Schott: A Civilian Surveyor on the U.S.-Mexico Boundary
The United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, known for its exploration of the trans-Mississippi West, surveyed and mapped the boundary between the United States and Mexico in the years 1849 to 1857. Major William H. Emory and the Topographical Engineers he commanded have long been recognized for their accomplishments in the survey. Yet civilian employees of the U.S. Boundary Commission far outnumbered the soldier-engineers, and they have remained obscure. This paper will investigate the work of civilian surveyor Arthur Schott. He is best known as an artist who illustrated the Report on the United States and Mexican Boundary Survey and he is also noticed for his natural history collections and scientific essays in the Report, but he remains little known for his principal assignment on the U.S. Boundary Commission, the survey and mapping of the boundary. Schott made important contributions to the surveys and maps as well as the final Report. Arthur Schott’s career on the U.S. Boundary Commission in both field and office will shed light on the role of civilians in the U.S.-Mexico boundary survey.
Enlightenment Maps and the “Noble Savage”
While a good deal has been written by scholars and others about images and statements referencing the peoples of the New World and their cultures, especially cannibalism, on the European cartography of discovery, exploration, and conquest of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, comparatively little has been said with regard to the references to the transformed-Indian-into-“noble savage” on the Enlightenment maps of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Firstly, this paper will discuss this evolution of the Indian from savage to noble savage on the maps of the Americas through the 1700’s. At the same time, it will consider some comparable allusions on maps of Africa to sub-Saharan natives and their cultures as well as ancient peoples such as Germans, Celts, Britons, Slavs, and others on the Enlightenment cartography of historic Europe. Finally, this visual definition of the noble savage will be aligned with the theoretical characterization of the philosophers of the Age to better comprehend the understanding of these distant peoples held not only by the intellectual elites of the Enlightenment, but also by those of the general public who were still often illiterate but nevertheless viewed the maps of distant places. In the process, this presentation too will underscore again the value of cartographic sources to historical research and to the enrichment of our discernment of past socio-cultural, political-economic, and intellectual developments.
Discovering maps and texts anew: the world before Empire
The presentation will be about the recent history of discovery and cartography as it applies to the early modern European expansion in the world, reflecting upon contemporaries’ views and the maps and charts they drew and our subsequent historical, literary and cultural constructions borne of national and other pre-conceptions and theories. The discussion will also explore the need to understand the texts and maps anew. The commonly held views, for example, that texts and mapping tended inexorably to prevision the ultimate establishment of Empire (although some did) or that the manuscript always was ‘old technology’ and had been made for ultimate production as a printed book, map or atlas is explored.