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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:A Map to Treasure: The Literary Significance of Thomas Baines's 'Map of the Gold Fields of South Eastern Africa
Author:Stiebel, Lindy
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic terms:South Africa
literary history
Great Zimbabwe
History and Exploration
About person:John Thomas Baines (1820-1875)ISNI
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02582479808671329
Abstract:In 1869, Thomas Baines set off as leader of the South African Gold Fields Exploration Company's vanguard expedition on a trip to secure a written mining concession from the Ndebele king. This hazardous journey Baines recorded in detail both in his journal and travelling map. The map was completed in sections and tracks the expedition's journey in South Africa from Durban through Natal and the Transvaal into present-day Zimbabwe. The map's interest from a literary point of view is in its linking of Great Zimbabwe with the realm of the Queen of Sheba. The myth that Great Zimbabwe was the work of an ancient white civilization, probably of Phoenician origin, was linked to theories of the 19th century. Baines's map, on which clearly verifiable physical features reside side by side with wishful thinking, influenced writers such as H. Rider Haggard in his novels 'King Solomon's Mines' (1885), 'She' (1887), and 'Elissa' (1898). Associations between Great Zimbabwe and King Solomon's biblical Ophir also echo in John Buchan's 'Prester John' (1910) and Wilbur Smith's 'The Sunbird' (1972) and 'A Falcon Flies' (1980). The legacy of Baines's map lingers on in South African popular literature even a century after the map's drawing. Note, ref.