Major European Explorers / Travelers of Southern Africa

Bellin, Jacques Nicolas, 1703-1772.
"Carte de l'Isle de Madagascar." Copperplate map, with added color, 52 x 85 cm. From an edition of Bellin's Hydrograhie française (Paris, 1765). [Historic Maps Collection]

Intended as a guide for French sailing vessels, this map is really a nautical chart with typical rhumb lines—paths of constant bearing—providing soundings information along the coast, identifying significant ports, and locating the outlets of rivers. Bellin's assumption is that the interior of the island is bon et fertile and covered with woods, but he acknowledges that it is all unknown. An inset shows the geographical relation of the island to the eastern coast of southern Africa.

[The mapping of Madagascar is an interesting subset of African cartography and exploration, but it is outside the scope of this exhibition.]