Mapping Global Agricultural History: A Map and Gazetteer for Sub-Saharan Africa, c. 1800 AD

  • Mats WidgrenEmail author


Recent global historical cropland modelling grossly underestimates the pre-colonial development of agriculture in the Americas and many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Such models are usually developed by back casting from recent land cover, combined with environmentally deterministic algorithms. Historical geographers have been slow in responding to a new demand for a global synthesis. In this paper, a preliminary map of African agricultural systems dating to AD 1800 is presented. It forms a component of the project Mapping Global Agriculture and is based on the existing historical literature, observations by early travelers, archaeology and archaeobotany. It should be emphasized that the generated map should be considered preliminary.


Land cover Land use Agricultural systems Historical croplands 



A map like this is by nature always in progress. This version benefitted greatly from important critical remarks and suggestions from the participants of 8th International Workshop for African Archaeobotany in Modena 2015 and of the PAGES LandCover6k workshop in Utrecht 2016, two anonymous reviewers, from the editors of this volume and many other colleagues. But as a work in progress much more can be done to improve it. The GIS-file can be critically scrutinized by downloading it from Please quote this chapter if the GIS file is used in further work.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Human GeographyStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden

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