Handtke’s (1849) map of the Horn of Africa uncovered
As part of our research on historical cartography in the Horn of Africa (Nyssen et al. 2020b; Nyssen et al. 2020a; Nyssen et al. 2019), we have been hinted at the existence of a map prepared by a German atlas printing house in the mid-19th century:
Handtke, F.H., 1849. Nordöstliches Afrika, Ca. 1:5 600 000. In: Sohr, K., Supplement-Band zum Hand-Atlas der neueren Erdbeschreibung, 85. Flemming, Glogau/Głogów and Leipzig [in German]
The map could be located at the National Library of Estonia. It is 39 cm wide and 66 cm tall, and it’s printed on paper that’s been bonded to fabric. The scale is approximately 1:5 600 000, graphically represented in German miles. Relief is shown by hachures (Collier et al. 2003). The map, based on 1840s diplomatic and other sources, has been produced by lithographic printing, with manual outline colouring (Witkam 2007).
The work was realised in one of the few stronger cartographic publishing houses in 19th century Germany, managed by Carl Flemming (1806-1878). Flemming was aided by cartographer Friedrich Handtke (1815-1879), who worked on nearly every map assignment for the firm (Brogiato and Fick 1997; Witkam 2007).
Northeast Africa in 1849
The map (Handtke 1849) shows that the sources of the White Nile had not yet been discovered by European explorers; the southernmost part of the map is left blank, with only a few generic names, particularly the “Mond Gebirge” (Mountains of the Moon – throughout this note, quotation marks indicate a literal transcription of calligraphy from the map) and “Endpunkt der 1. Expedition”.
The geography of the Red Sea Coast, Egypt and “Nubia” was fairly well known, as well as that of the northern and central Ethiopian highlands. These were mapped in relative detail for “Tigre”, “Amhara”, and to the south with fuzzy boundaries for “Schoa”. Futher south, “Enarea”, “Dschimma” and “Kaffa” are located with few details. A generic name “Habesch” is written diagonally across the highlands.
“Amhara” corresponded largely to the current Amhara region, yet with Wollo as a separate entity. The territorial organisation of “Tigre” included the Eritrean highlands (“Baharnagasch”) and the current Tigray region, clearly comprising the current Western Tigray with “Walkayt” and “Waldubba”.
By 1849, well before the scramble for Africa, Eritrea had not yet come into existence as a separate territory (Ullendorff 1965).
On Handtke’s (1849) map, the lowlands at the west of “Habesh” were also poorly defined, with occurrence of names like “Schangalla”, “Kolla” or “Dar El Berta”.
Using Handtke’s map
A Scholar Google search tends to indicate that this map (Handtke 1849) has so far not been used by historians, geographers or other researchers.
The map is available at the authorised workplace in the National Library of Estonia, Archival Library of the Estonian Literary Museum (Tallinn University of Technology Library, Academic Library of Tallinn University and University of Tartu Library). The scanned map may be accessed and downloaded from their repository at https://www.digar.ee/arhiiv/nlib-digar:429790
Other copies are held at Bayerische Staatsbibliothek (München, Germany) and at Universitätsbibliothek Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Eichstätt, Germany).
Brogiato, H. P., and K. E. Fick. 1997. „An dem Knochen wird von vielen genagt “: Zur Entwicklung der geographischen Schulatlanten im 19. Jahrhundert. Internationale Schulbuchforschung:35-66.
Collier, P., D. Forrest, and A. Pearson. 2003. The representation of topographic information on maps: the depiction of relief. The Cartographic Journal 40 (1):17-26.
Handtke, F. H. 1849. Nordöstliches Afrika, Ca. 1:5 600 000. In Supplement-Band zum Hand-Atlas der neueren Erdbeschreibung, edited by K. Sohr. Glogau/Głogów and Leipzig: Flemming.
Nyssen, J., M. Debever, Gezahegne Gebremeskel, B. De Wit, Kiros Meles Hadgu, S. De Vriese, J. Verbeurgt, Sultan Mohammed, A. Frankl, Tulu Besha, J. Kropáček, A. Forceville, and Biadgilgn Demissie. 2020a. Aerial photographs of Ethiopia 1935-1941: PANGAEA. Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science
Nyssen, J., G. Petrie, R. N. Munro, M. Jacob, W. Smidt, M. Haile, A. Frankl, and P. Billi. 2019. Historical Maps, Terrestrial and Aerial Photographs. In Geo-trekking in Ethiopia’s Tropical Mountains, edited by J. Nyssen, M. Jacob and A. Frankl. Cham: Springer, 461-476.
Nyssen, J., Tesfaalem Ghebreyohannes, Hailemariam Meaza, and S. Dondeyne. 2020b. Exploration of a medieval African map (Aksum, Ethiopia) – How do historical maps fit with topography? In Liber Amicorum: Philippe De Maeyer In Kaart, edited by M. De Ryck, J. Nyssen, K. Van Acker and W. Van Roy. Wachtebeke (Belgium): University Press, 165-178.
Ullendorff, E. 1965. The Ethiopians: An Introduction to Country and People London: Oxford University Press.
Witkam, M. 2007. Sohr-Berghaus Hand-Atlas, 4th edition (1847-1850). http://www.atlassen.info/atlassen/flemming/sohha04/sohha04.html#summary.