Images of the Past: Colonial Guanabara Bay and the European

Leandro Andrei Beser de Deus
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
[email protected]
Paulo Márcio Leal de Menezes
Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
[email protected]
Show me a geographer who doesn’t need or want them around them (maps) constantly and I will have my doubts
if he made the correct choice in his life. The map speaks through the barrier of language. (SAUER, 1963)
Space and time are fundamental elements that enable us to understand the phenomena
evolution. There are several applications and studies demands that require both concepts. In
Geography, for instance, space and time are responsible for the comprehension of the socialspatial dynamics. Thus, space-time studies are essential to establish the understanding of such
evident integration of these two terms, frequently analyzed in a disconnected and isolated way.
Regarding these matters, the paper presented is related to the Historical-Geography area,
considering Historical Cartography as the main source of the geographic space analysis.
According to KNAUSS (1997), cartography is an old human habit of reflection about the
space and therefore, it must be critically used in the attempt to understand the development of
geographic space throughout time.
Historical Cartography has been considered lately as an important support source to
geographic space analysis in various applications, amongst which can be pointed out the
structure, the development and the evolution of areas, the occupation and land use, the search
and research for elements and the geographic features modified by the landscape, landscape
alterations caused by earthworks, rectification of the hydrography, hills dismount, etc.
According to MENEZES (et al., 2005), Historical Cartography objective is to study maps and
old cartographic representations, made in the past according to old techniques and methods.
To this Historical Cartography study, one intends to highlight the Military Cartography,
which is understood as the cartographic part that shows military aspects. Old military maps, as
historical sources, will be read and studied critically, because rather than representing the
space, they represent what the cartographer or the institution who made it, wished to show
Lately, the studies involving Historical Cartography can be subsidized by tools as the GIS
(Geographic Information Systems) which help making decisions and have already enabled the
development of some analysis methods, planning and decision regarding the geographic space.
The use of a space-time model in GIS increases its analysis capability, making the study of the
geographic phenomena evolution possible.
The importance of Historical Cartography and Geotechnologies integration especially
with the GIS, reflects in the capability these two disciplines will have to organize the data
gathered and to provide a past spatial dynamics comprehension of` the spatial scale chosen to
be studied despite its limitations, restrictions and different analysis methods.
Figure 1 – Center of Rio de Janeiro – 1838 – Original e Centro of Rio de Janeiro – Atlas 1965
based in map of 1930 (MENEZES et al., 2005).
The scene chosen for the study is the Guanabara Bay region, located in the Captainship of
Rio De Janeiro (Brazil). The study will be subsidized by the European Military Cartography
(specifically from Portugal, France, Spain and England), regarding the Brazilian colonial
period (since the arrival of the Portuguese until 1822), that stands out the geopolitical interest
in Rio de Janeiro. The choice of the region was made due to its spatial scale full of
transformations (that took place throughout History since the sixteenth century). As we know
all process requires time, this one could be considered the ideal study for the accomplishment
of the paper. The "focus-process" of this work fits the action of Portuguese Cartographic
Politics in Colonial Brazil. Those politics were responsible for the occupation, defense and
territorial management and ended up in various spatial configurations, in addition to acting in
the spatial financial valuation of lots of fragments from Guanabara Bay and its surroundings,
throughout time. Moreover, there are other historical interests which were crucial for the
history of occupation of the Bay by Spain, France and England.
In order to study this space, we must draw a comparison between it and two other types of
scales. The first is the framing scale that corresponds to the captainship or the state of the Rio
de Janeiro and enables us to understand the changes that could be observed in this littoral
band. The other scale includes local and urban space maps as well as buildings plants,
however, only in the military scope. The reflections about the comparison between this
cartographic universe is the main concern of this work.
Figure 2 – Guanabara Bay – 1586, 1698 e 1767 (adapted of COSTA, 2004).
As has already been evidenced, Guanabara Bay is a spatial scale full of historical
information. Its dynamics has been through changes at specific and non-identified time
intervals. Facing these facts, some questions that can be answered or thought considering the
analysis subsidized by the Historical Cartography and by a Temporal Geographic Information
System. The central problematic lies to the occupation and defense of Guanabara Bay, which
will be analyzed through the comparison of its Portuguese, Spanish, Frenchmen and English
representations with different objectives and standpoints. These different points of view will
improve the understanding of the conjectural representations dealt with in computational
The cartographic representations will disclose military interests through
occupation strategies and some spatial tendencies. Consequently, the spatial dynamics
financial valuation of some scales will be more easily understood.
The main objective of this paper is to understand the modifications in the space
organization of Guanabara Bay starting from the Portuguese, Spanish, French and English
cartographic production in the Brazilian colonial period, based on specific methodology for
historical-geographic studies. Such methodology resulted from a careful analysis of old maps
and of the integration of Historical Cartography with the Geotechnologies, in order to support
works aimed at the understanding of the transformations and/or spatial scales evolution in
regional and urban areas.
In the general scope, this work can be justified as a theoretical and methodological
reflection as well as a source of information to be incorporated to the historical-geographic
and cartographic property of the countries involved, strengthening the scientific and
technological cooperation between Latin America and the European Union. In the specific
scope, in order to develop the paper, two types of difficulties which must be equated can be
cited, justifying the present paper:
The first one lies inside a historical domain, especially regarding the historical research
sources, its origins (since they can be found in various countries), representations and
interpretations and the absence of maps of some colonial periods of Rio de Janeiro.
The other one lies inside a personal domain regarding the time insertion problems in GIS,
where several impeditive aspects for the accomplishment of this work can be observed.
The work will be carried out on the following phases (detailed in the items below),
showing the methodology to be applied to the paper:
Phase 1: Bibliographical survey;
Phase 2: Cartographic, Geographic and Historical Data Acquisition
Phase 3: Temporal compartmentalization of the Study Periods:
Phase 4: Cartographic Historical Bases Spatial integration;
Phase 4.1: Digitalization and rasterization
Phase 4.2: Vectorization
Phase 4.3: Validation;
Phase 4.4: Georeferencing;
Phase 5: Graphical and Tabular Data Treatment;
Phase 5.1: Space-Temporal analogical analyses;
Phase 5.2: Space-Temporal digital analysis;
Phase 6: Conclusions.
Specifically on phase 2, we can already count on some material gathered in Brazil that it
will allow us to establish an x-ray of the area which will be allied and compared with the
available historical documentation (in archives, libraries, inquiry centers inquiry and also with
specialists) gathered in the European institutions.
Figure 3 – Francisco João Honesto Map – 1778 (MENEZES, 2005).
Bellow it is possible to observe some institutions researched preliminarily and some
of the contacts established:
In Portugal: University of Porto (Universidade do Porto), University of Lisbon
(Universidade de Lisboa), Historical Archive of the Army (Instituto Geográfico do
Exercito), Services of Engineering Direction (Direcção dos Serviços de Engenharia);
Army Geographic Institute (Instituto Geográfico do Exercito), National Library
(Biblioteca Nacional), Overseas Historical Archive (Histórico Ultramarino),
Portuguese Academy of History (Academia Portuguesa da História), among others.
Moreover, the contact and support from Professor João Garcia, Cartography History
specialist and supervising professor the present paper.
In Spain: Catographic Intitute of Catalunya (Institut Cartogràfic de Catalunya),
Nautical Museum of Madrid (Museo Naval de Madrid), University of Santiago de
Compostela (Facultades de Xeografía e Historia - University of Santiago de
Compostela), National Library of Spain (Biblioteca National de España), National
Historical Archive (Archivo Histórico Nacional), among others. Contacts made in
the ICC (International Cartographic Conference - 2005) in La Corunna; event with
publication and participation of the author.
France: The National Library of France (Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Institut
Géographique National), The National Geographic Institute (Institut Géographique
National), The National French Archives (Archives Nationales Françaises), Marine
Hydrographic Service (Service Hydrographique de la Marine),
Géographique Militaire, Commission Nationale of toponymie, among others.
Contact: Marli Cigagna, in Cartography by the University of Sorbonne
Nouvelle (Paris III), Paris, France.
In England: (United Kingdom): various institutions as the British Patrimony, The
National Archives, The British Library and contact to be made with the Brazilian
Luciana de Lima Martins, researcher of the Social and Cultural Geography Group of
Royal Holloway, University of London. This researcher gathered documents in the
United Kingdom in which travelers would describe the New World using aesthetic
and technical codes to be deciphered by their pairs. She also published a study called
“Brazilian Landscapes, British eyes” which contemplates the Brazilian landscapes
according to the British point of view. Her temporal scale corresponds to the end of
the seventeenth century and part of the eighteenth century, her research period focus,
when Great Britain used to be the biggest world-wide power. MARTINS (2001)
points out that in this period art and science had never been so close. The eyes which
mapped, measured and compared the landscapes features were also delighted by
doing a picturesque comparison of the same landscapes. Nowadays, these drawings
worth is also historical.
MARTINS (2001) claims to have obtained with such
drawings, certifications of the past times of Rio de Janeiro as well as clues about the
development of a new look towards landscapes and therefore of the emergence of the
modern observer.
In summary, this work searched to divulge a study possibility integrating the Historical
Cartography, the Military Cartography and the Geotechnologies. The intended study is in the
beginning phase of research. However, it already presents some perspectives and possibilities
for contacts and products. Some results are waited, such as:
Searching for old maps and other sources in European institutions about the Guanabara
Bay in the colonial period;
Comparing cartographic images made at the same period, following the analogical analysis
Establishing a geographic and geopolitical comparative study analyzing the moments of
each representation of the Bay considering the historical-geographic context of Rio de
Janeiro and in other analysis scales;
Presenting the technological evolution of the representations. The presence of a projection
system, a system of coordinates (spherical or plan), the representation of parallels and
meridians, orientation and scales can provide conclusive elements on the cartographic
knowledge of the past if compared to the document and the cartographer who made it;
Presenting a cartographic evolution of the processes (occupation and defense), maps,
letters that represent the Guanabara Bay throughout time, also appealing to the production
of conjectural maps;
Studying the space organization evolution and the structure of Guanabara Bay, as well as
its modifications and consequences for the inhabitants of this area, besides implementing
concepts on space financial valuation throughout time;
Studying the information mapping techniques indicating a connection between
Cartography, Geography, History and Geoprocessing knowledge;
Implementing a Temporal Geographic Information System (TGIS) which will organize the
gathered data and generate information about it using a space-temporal analysis in addition
to it the TGIS will subside this area space organization throughout history.
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