In Abyssinia. Observations on Tigre

The maps

Georg Wilhelm Schimper was not only an eminent botanist, but also a very able cartographer. His interest in the habitat of plants made him determine the geographic altitude in particular at which he found his specimens. However, he was also interested in the geology and geography of the area in general. He collected rock samples[1] as well as plant specimens and sent these also to his European sponsors and to other academic institutions.[2]

The maps which are edited here with the manuscripts were purchased by the British Library together with the manuscript, but are bound in a separate volume.[3] They have been digitized by the Map Department of the British Library and made available online.

Initially it was intended by the editors to link place names or the names of rivers and mountains mentioned in Schimper’s manuscript to those digitised maps and geo-reference them as exactly as possible. However, it soon became clear that this could not be implemented in a reasonably consistent way. As one can see from the version of Schimper’s maps which were also inserted into a Google Earth map by the British Library, there are only very few identified places in this part of Ethiopia which correspond to names on Schimper’s maps and could be taken as reference points for exact geo-referencing.[4] In addition, Schimper’s maps are not always totally accurate as one can also see from the British Library’s digitized and partially geo-referenced accuracy analysis. These functions can be accessed for all of Schimper’s maps via the British Library website
Images here:

This is the reason why the editors eventually decided to use Schimper’s digitised original maps and to link the text to these images only. For this purpose all names in the maps in their German transcription were electronically tagged and linked to an alphabetical index on place names (mountains, rivers, settlements). In this index

  • a click on page numbers will lead the user to the respective pages where a name can be found (highlighted in bold);
  • a click on the Symbol (x/y) will lead to the maps where this name is given in a printed transcription and marked with an ‘x’ in the middle of the map-section presented in the frame.

As more exact geo-referencing would be desirable the editors would be happy to accept any help from specialists on the geography of the area.

[1] Samples are kept at the Natural History Museum, London and the Naturkundemuseum, Berlin.

[2] See for details the relevant section in the text on Schimper’s biography.

[3] ‘Map, profiles and appendices to ‘Observations on the Botany of Tigre’; n.d. Bound together with ‘The map of Begemder trigonometrically planned by Dr. Schimper. 1864/65’. London, British Library, Add Ms. 28506. See for more details Schimper’s Biography and Bibliography.

[4] Please see also Acknowledgements.