September 19, 2016
Monday Geology Picture: Old Maps of Africa
Posted by Evelyn Mervine
Earlier this year I visited a local wine farm here in the Western Cape of South Africa, and there I saw a lovely display of some reproductions of some old maps of Africa. I’m not sure about the background of these maps, but I snapped a few pictures because I thought they were interesting. If you recognize any of the maps, please let me know in the comments.
Here are a couple of close-ups of the detailed map of the Cape Town area, where I live:
If you look closely on the close-up view (click for a larger version), you can see that there are some useful descriptions on parts of the map. For example, there’s a description “Very Good Grounds” and then there’s a description “Grounds Not Fit for Tillage”. There are also some comments about the local mountain chains, with one being described as “Inaccessible Mountains” (I’ve corrected to modern spelling).
My husband and I live roughly in the “Grounds Not Fit for Tillage” part of the map, which probably explains why we struggle with our garden! The soil where we live is indeed very sandy and mostly comprised of quartz. Thus, it’s tough to grow anything other than local, native plants. So, we’ve planted a garden full of local succulents and are attempting this year to grow a few vegetables in a raised bed. We tried planting some flowers earlier this year, but only the ones in the pots (with special soil) seemed to survive!
I think that “Inaccessible Mountains” description may be fair, too. I’ve been on some tough hikes in that area!
I really enjoy old maps, and it’s great when they contain detailed information such as the Cape Town area map. I’d say that this map is still useful today!
Cool display (although the skewness would drive me crazy too). I once stumbled upon this website about the evolution of maps of Africa: http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/maps/websites/africa/maps-continent/continent.html
One of the maps in your photos looks like it might be pretty close to the 1554 map.