25 Feb, 2021

Fact? Rumour? Fantasy?

Well that was easy, the ‘Oz before Oz’ challenge three days ago.  Well done, the Sherlocks.

I said how stimulating I find these maps, especially when musing on the stories they tell: stories of fact, of suspected fact, of rumour, and of downright fantasy.  Here’s a great one, endlessly fascinating, to me at least; and it’s absolutely core to two of the most dramatic years of my life, 1969 to 1971, living in that same ramshackle little township on the Blue Nile called Sennar, which hundreds of years earlier had been the capital of the powerful Funj Sultanate.

If you’re interested, click on it, zoom right in, and do your own exploring.  It’s worth it.

A few things you could look for:
– How many Kingdoms?  I don’t have an answer.  Lost count!
– What year was it published?  I don’t think it’s there, but no doubt a sleuth will find out.
– And here are some things that are there, most in the realms of suspected fact, rumour and fantasy.  Have a look:

Fairs and Merchants
Head of the Nile
Good Iron Mines
Vast Herds of Wild Beasts
Nation of Dwarfs
Wandring (sic) People
Gold mines
Mountains of Black Stone
Dangerous travelling because of thieves
Falaljan or the Exild (sic) Fugitive Jews
Mines of Salt
Trading in Elephants Teeth (regrettably probably ’Tusks’)

Being somewhat protective of my ‘Sennar, capital of the Funj Sultanate’, I’m a bit miffed that here it’s spelled ‘Fungi’!  Disgraceful!  But there’s much more.  Anyone find anything especially interesting?


  1. You seem to have a more monochrome version of this Emmanuel Bowen map from 1744. But you already knew that…… Just having a bit of fun??

  2. Dear David, Could you be visualised on this map eleven years ago? On18 January 2010 I was delighted to receive an email from you in the Sudan. Together with Susannah and Ann you had just travelled from the White Nile (Bahr el abiad’on the map) eastward very roughly along latititude 15: ‘The following day we drove east towards the Blue Nile stopping to climb the Jebel Moya (Water Mountains) where I know – but no guide books know -, Mr Wellcome (later of the Wellcome pharmaceutical company) lived alone for 20 years from 1910. We went to see his strange stone house in a valley up in the jebel. Then on to Sennar where I taught all those years ago, and we found my school (now a “university”) and were met with great enthusiasm and kindness. Quite overwhelming.’


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