Abissinia, doue sono le Fonti del Nilo.
A Venetian cartographer, Vincenzo Coronelli (1650-1718) created hundreds of beautifully engraved maps, but he is probably best known for his globes, which were even finer than those of Willem Janszoon Blaeu. His masterpiece was a pair of celestial and terrestial globes, 384 cm. in diameter, that he made for Louis XIV of France; the star map showed the heavens as they stood at the king’s birth. He also founded the very first geographical society, the Accademia Cosmografica degli Argonauti, in 1680.
Coronelli’s cites his sources for this Nile map, including the Portuguese Jesuits Pedro Páez and Jerónimo Lobo, and contrasts his work with an inset showing the “original” (that is, outdated) course of the Nile as presented by past geographers, who followed the Ptolemaic tradition of two source lakes. Páez and Lobo had visited Ethiopia in the early 1600s, and both gave accounts of having seen the springs that natives believed to be the river’s source, though the Jesuits failed to distinguish between the two branches of the river. Coronelli’s Nile is the Blue Nile, and his geography is fairly accurate for that branch, identifying the significance of Lake Tsana and the clockwise unfolding of the river as it descends from there. Notice that he has supplied a B to mark each of the two “fountains.” The other branch, what is now called the White Nile, is virtually ignored; it meanders in a southerly direction to its origin in vague mountains at a latitude of 9-10° north of the equator.
Most of the exploration activity in the 19th century was focused on discovering the sources of the White Nile, which would lead below the equator, as ironically suggested in Coronelli’s Ptolemaic inset.