Historical Cartography in the Digital Age: Imaging Senegal – The Last 500 Years ~ New Technologies, New Questions, New Communities



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The Senegambia area of West Africa is one of the areas that has the richest documentary history of the entire continent.  Digital technologies are making it possible to undertake entirely new kinds of international research with coordinated teams of scholars from several continents.  The ‘Adjami Project of the National Endowment for the Humanities provides a powerful model for this new approach to understanding the history and cultures of West Africa.   This research can now be assisted with newly available digital technology in historical cartography.


“Selected Senegal Maps – Table of Images from Digitized Sources”
Fallou Ngom & T. C. Weiskel
(Draft version, September 2022)

The evolution from early portolan sea charts to the deliberate mapping of the African continent itself is a topic requiring in-depth, interdisciplinary and international research over the early modern period, the European Renaissance and particularly the period of the European “enlightenment.”   Over these several hundred years, the accurate mapping of the African coast and its interior became quite complex because the peoples and places that cartographers attempted to portray and display were in fact undergoing substantial socio-political transformations at the time of their documentation in these early maps.  A present-day map, summarizing a succession of African political and social groups in the West African interior, makes this complexity apparent:


This complexity of the Senegambia region and its related interior over time has now become the subject of the focused study by The Africa Map Circle.

In the 18th century, French cartographers were amongst those most engaged in documenting the the geography of the region and its river systems.  Selected maps of particular cartographers have become the subject of “map chats” developed by The Africa Map Circle.  See, for example, the Jean Baptiste Bourguignon D’Anville – Handlist of maps:


The Senegambia area is the region that is the focus of another international and intercultural research initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and based in part at the African Studies Center of Boston University.   See further information on the NEH ‘Ajami Project and


See also further information on The Africa Map Circle.

Af-Map-Circle-300as well as forthcoming research on:






Click here for further background material on a specialized digital African map library:

Afriterra-smSee related:

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