Friday, December 17, 2010

Het Eyland Mauritius (Circa 1700)


Map by Van Keulen (c. 1700) - 20 cents. History of Mauritius collection (1978).

The Island Mauritius, map drawn by Johannes Van Keulen, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company.


van Keulen Mauritius 1

The most accurate map of Mauritius at that time. I haven’t been able to date when it was drawn. Here it suggests 1753, while elsewhere it’s 1695. The stamp (c. 1700) and the fact that this was in the secret Atlas of the Dutch East India Company suggests it’s closer to 1695.

Map photo credits.

Full map – 5.5MB -


Siganus Sutor

In "La Revue rétrospective de l'île Maurice", vol. VI, No. 3, May 1955 (a scan of the page can be seen here), there is an article about "Early places-names of Mauritius" which begins as follows:

"The Chevalier de Nyon map of Ile de France, dating from 1725 or so, was published for the first time in the Atlas Souvenir de l'Abbé de la Caille (...).
"The de Nyon map has some sixty important coastal names; which will form the main framework of these present notes. The Dutch maps which preceded the de Nyon map were three or four in number. First came what may be called the Tasman map, which is supposed to have been begun by the great explorer Abel Tasman and to have been completed by the Dutch governor Van der Stel, round about 1644; it was published eighty later by Valentyn, when thoroughly out-of-date. The other Dutch maps date from about 1675. One version is in the Cambridge University Library; another was published in the travels of Mandelso; a third, kept at the Hague is reproduced in the Atlas Souvenir."

The author doesn't mention the fourth Dutch map, which might be the one in question here, but if I get things right from what is written above it must date from about 1675.

One can also note that the Tasman map is said to have been published 80 years after it was completed, which can explain the confusion on dates. Often maps were top secret documents during these times, which can explain why it took so long for them to be made public.


@Siganus Sutor
I did come across the Ile de France map (1725) which was what led me to believe that the 1753 date was wrong.

The Tasman map is one interesting map. I note the correct positions of the Mascarene islands.

Siganus Sutor

Carrot, the map you linked to seems very much to be a map of Australia (then known as "New Holland"), not of Mauritius. If the three dots we can see on the left part of the map are Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues, then there is a problem with the distance to the west coast of Australia. Their latitude might be good, but not their longitude, which is not so surprising since establishing accurately the longitude was a problem until Harrison's H4 marine chronometer in the late 1750s/early 1760s.

Do you know a place on the internet where the de Nyon map of 1725 can be seen?


@Siganus Sutor
I made the same mistake at first until I realised that the Mascarene map was an inset with Tropic of Capricon line. When you align both Tropic lines, you get one impressive map (for that time) - a map quite accurate in both longitude & latitude. :)

Ruud Stelten

the Nyon map can be found online on the website of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France (also many other eighteenth-century maps). I have a high resolution PDF of this map. If you want I can e-mail it to you....


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