|Between 1678 and 1682, Jean Barbot, a French commercial agent, traded
for gold along the Gold Coast (now Ghana), in West Africa. This drawing
is taken from his journals, held by The National Archives.
In his journals, among a variety of observations on African life,
Barbot describes how gold is mined. Methods used include panning for
gold dust and, as shown here, diving for nuggets in the local rivers.
Intriguingly, and despite his having first-hand knowledge of the area,
both Barbot’s report on gold mining and his drawing rely on
material in other sources. This drawing, for example, almost entirely
reproduces the one in an earlier work by Olfert Dapper, a Dutch scholar
who had never even visited Africa.
ADM 7/830B, f. 39 (1688)