Eighteenth century French cartography was very technically accomplished. It succeeded in mapping much of the world’s territories and oceans. In many cases, particular cartographers like Jacques-Nicholas Bellin — in service of the King of France — devoted special attention to the ports and islands that had become important in the intercontinental trading of the globalized maritime empires.
The trans-Atlantic trade in slaves was of special interest to numerous European empires, and it is perhaps not surprising that some of the most detailed maps published in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries concern themselves with the slave trade.
These ports and islands still exist. Further, with technology now widely available in many secondary schools, public libraries and colleges and universities across the world, it is now possible to view and investigate the subject of these early maps in great detail.
In fact, it is possible to get “inside” many of the key spaces that are locatable on the historical maps and from the contemporary pictures from space to see what these places look like in our day.
Consider “The Map Room” on the Island of Goree, off the coast of Dakar, Senegal
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