by Tatiana ILYUSHINA, Cand. Sc. (Technol.), Moscow State University of Geodesy and Cartography
Long before the Christian era savants of Phoenicia and ancient Egypt, and then of Greece and Rome studied and mapped terrestrial surface. Further progress of humanity - what with humming industries and farming, exploration of new territories and the growth of national states-made such work ever more imperative.
Let us take gardening or agri- and viticulture to begin with. Cultivated tracts of land had to be either irrigated or else drained. Such lands were surveyed and marked with a number of reference points for benchmarks. In time these benchmark data were evaluated and brought together for making plans of large territories and whole countries. The very first land-surveying and topographic maps were thus drawn up.
Our ancestors used rather primitive, rule-of-thumb methods in determining geographical latitudes and longitudes, and that did not make it possible to pinpoint the exact position of real objects. But people sought to achieve better accuracy through new surveying methods and instruments. Specific sciences appeared, too. One was topography (topographic mapping) - the detailed description or drawing of the features of an area, district, or locality. Special topographical techniques were developed. As a science, topography remained rather primitive until the 19th century and the invention of modern surveying instruments, making accurate plane and profile measurements possible.
The scale is an important part of topography. This is the proportion that a plan, map, or model has to what it represents. Maps were drawn accordingly. Say, a military-topographic map that came out in 1846 was scaled 1 inch to 3 versts (1/126,000)*; it had many reruns subsequently and came to be known as the "three-verst" map.
The first half of the 18th century was marked by grandiose geographic discoveries and vigorous cartographic activ ... Read more