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Number: 3632
Continent: Africa
Region: East
Place Names: Eritrea, Ethiopia
Year of Origin: 1887
Title: RORE [Altipianti] MENSA, HABAB, ASGHEDE, BOGOS Ed Abissinia Settentrionale. Carta Provvisoria
Language: Italian
Publish Origin: Rome
Height: 54.9
Width: 31.9
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 1,000,000
Color Type: Outline Color
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Cartographer: Manfredo Campario
Publisher: Istituto Cartografico Italiano
Other Contributors: L. Rolla
U. Ugolini
Northernmost Latitude: 18.0
Southernmost Latitude: 13.0
Westernmost Longitude: 38.0
Easternmost Longitude: 41.0
Measurement Notes: on map
Notes: see Afriterra Map# 3445; source Dasa Pahor 2019], Colour lithograph (Very Good, overall clean and bright, wide margins, blank margin, some clean splits along folds carefully closed from verso with old repairs), sheet: 66.5 x 47.5 cm (26 x 18.5 inches); map area: 56.5 x 36.5 cm (22 x 14.5 inches). Exceedingly rare 1 of only 2 recorded examples a provisional map of Eritrea and the adjacent borderlands of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) predicated upon the best sources and compiled by the adventurer, entrepreneur and politician Manfredo Campario for the private use of the Italian War Ministry during the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887-9, a critical conflict upon which Italy secured her first overseas colony (Eritrea). This exceedingly rare, separately issued map embraces central and northern Eritrea and the adjacent Tigray region of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), and was compiled from the best sources by Manfredo Camperio, a adventurer, entrepreneur, soldier and statesman, who was one of the driving forces behind the Italian colonization movement in Africa. Camperio made the map for the private use of the Italian War Ministry as a strategic aid during the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887-9, a watershed conflict whereby Italy secured its rule over Eritrea. The map showcases the region in impressive detail and accuracy, with the dramatic topography expressed through delicate shading, with spot heights and altitudes given in metres. The Mar Rosso or Red Sea, with its coral reef-strewn coasts, occupies the upper left quadrant of the composition, marking numerous bathymetric soundings. The main Italian base in the region, Massaua (Massawa, Eritrea), occupies the centre of the map, while the Ethiopian Highlands rise above. The provisional Eritrean-Abyssinian border is marked by crossed lines, while the names of regions, such as Bogos, Mensa? Tigre, are labelled, as are innumerable tribal districts; the Danakil Depression, the hottest place on earth, appears on the right side of the map. Virtually every town, village and frontiv (the future capital of Eritrea) and the Axum the great holy site of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. The charting of the coasts is generally based upon British Admiralty surveys, while some of the mapping around Massawa is predicated upon recent Italian military reconnaissance. However, much of the information in the interior is taken from the maps, sketches and textual descriptions of explorers. The Itinerari chart, in the lower left corner, identifies the different coloured and patterned lines that traverse the map, delineating the routes of fifteen named explorers and military expeditions who visited the region between 1843 and 1884. These missions included that of Carovane; the route of the British force that invaded Abyssinia in 1868; M?ziger (1871-5); Merewether (1867); Rohlfs (1881); Lefebvre (1843); Sapeto (1851); Pennazzi (1883-4); Bianchi (1884); the Price of Coburg (1862); Reil (1868); Hilldebrandt (1872); Heuglin (1876); Pearce (1867) and Phayre (1867). While it is noted upon the map that Camperio used maps from August Petermann?s Geographische Mitteilungen as basic templates, so much new and carefully edited information has been added that the present work is an entirely novel map, dramatically superior to its antecedents. Along its lower left side, the map features profile cross-sections of two alterantive routes from Massawa to the strategically important highland town of Keren, gained from recent Italian military excursions. During and in the wake of the Risorgimento, Italy endeavoured to become a great world power, which would only be possible if it acquired overseas colonies, as had Britain and France, etc. Italian explorers, business leaders and politicians initially focussed their attention upon the Horn of Africa, in good part due to its strategic location by the Red Sea, along the world?s greatest shipping route, recently opened upon the completion of the Suez Canal. Italian entities sponsored several large-scale exploring expeditions and commercial schemes to facilitate the creation of an Italian imperial sphere in the region. The first permanent Italian base on the Horn of Africa was founded at Assab in 1882, in south-eastern Eritrea. During the Berlin Congress (November 15, 1884 ? February 26, 1885) the European powers divided Africa amongst themselves. Italy was awarded Eritrea as a colonial possession while Abyssinia was vaguely designated as being a zone of Italian influence. With the tacit support of the Britain?s Royal Navy (which controlled the Red Sea), Italy quickly moved to anchor its claim to the coast of Eritrea, by settling Massawa in 1885. However, the Italians soon became dissatisfied with the boundaries of Eritrea, which hugged the coast, so preventing them from developing the agriculturally rich Ethiopian Highlands that commenced just a short distance inland. During the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887-9, Italy attempted to prise the frontal ranges of highlands from Abyssinia. However, the Italians severely underestimated the martial abilities of the Abyssinians, and their forces suffered a devastating defeat at the Battle of Dogali (January 26, 1887), located to the west of Massawa; the battle site is marked on the present map with crossed swords and the note ?Dogali 26 Genn. 1887?. Undeterred, Italy redoubled its efforts, allocating 200 million Lira to the cause and sending 20,000 troops to the Eritrean-Abyssinian theatre. Moreover, the Abyssinians came to retreat from the conflict owing to their internal problems and the threat of a Mahdist Sudanese invasion of their country. At the Treaty of Wuhele (May 2, 1889) that ended the war, the Abyssinians were compelled to cede their borderlands with Eritrea to Italy (including the region containing Asmara, the future Eritrean capital). In 1890, Italy formally declared Eritrea to be its Colonia Primogenita (First-born Colony). Italy would remain in Eritrea for more than fifty years, whereupon it would have a complex, and often acrimonious, relationship with Abyssinia. Enter Manfredo Camperio (1826-99), who born in Milan to a wealthy family and received his formal education in Saxony and Austria, where he was exposed to world-leading Germanic cartographic techniques. He was a long-time ?freedom fighter? for Italian independence, battling the Austrians during the 1848-9 Revolution, as well as the First and Second Italian Wars of Independence (1858 and 1859). He was exiled from his homeland many times, and was well travelled throughout Europe, having lived in places ranging from Norway to Constantinople. During the Risorgimento, Cameprio fought with the Garibaldian Corps, before resigning his commission in 1866. Camperio became fascinated with the Orient?s seemingly endless potential for Italian trade, as well as the notion of the Italian colonization of Africa. In 1868, he embarked upon a tour of Egypt, the Red Sea, India and Ceylon. He personally attended the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt in November 1869. Camperio became a founding board member of the Societ?geografica italiana in 1867, and held a number of senior roles in the civil service, before being elected to the Italian Parliament in 1874, whereupon he became one of the leading voices in favour of Italian colonialism in Africa. He contributed significant funds from his personal fortune towards Italian exploring expeditions and was a key investor in Italian overseas commercial schemes. Camperio founded the academic-pro-colonization journal L?esploratore in 1877, and in 1880-1, he led an Italian trade mission to Libya. He subsequently served as the President of the principal Italian lobby for business and trade in Africa, the Societ?di esplorazione commerciale in Africa. During the first months of the Italo-Ethiopian War of 1887-9, Camperio, living in Rome, was regarded as a senior statesman and a foremost authority on Africa. He employed his skills as a geographer, first honed during his youth in Germany, to develop the present excellent map. The work was intended for the exclusive use of the Italian War Ministry during the ongoing conflict as a strategic aid to reveal the area?s complex topography and to highlight the best routes into the interior as identified by the era?s leading explorers. The map?s militarily useful and sensitive nature ensured that it was never circulated outside of top-level military and political circles. Camperio dedicated the final years of his life to promoting trade between Italy and India, via the Suez Canal. After visiting Bombay in 1894, he assembled a conference of eighty of Italy?s leading industrialists to advance this cause. A Note on Rarity The present fragile, separately issued map was published by the Istituto cartografico italiano L. Rolla in Rome in only a very small print run for the private use of the Italian War Ministry; the map was never sold or distributed to libraries. It is today exceedingly rare; we can trace only a single other example, held by the Biblioth?ue national de France (French agents were then quite accomplished at acquiring the ?secret? maps of foreign rivals!). Moreover, we have not been able to trace any sales records for any other examples of the map. References: Biblioth?ue nationale de France, d?artement Cartes et plans, GE C-928 / OCLC: 495029666.
Last updated: Jul 28, 2020