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Digitisation project of historical topographic maps

08 May 2014

Starting this May, volunteer Jan Gerard will be a regular visitor to the GIA second-floor GIS-lab. He will help digitise early 20th century topographic map sheets of the Pontine plain in central Italy, and georeference scanned 18th century topographical manuscript maps of the Northern Netherlands, under the supervision of Martijn van Leusen. Jan has worked earlier as a volunteer on similar projects for the municipality of Groningen.

The detailed topographic maps made for the reclamation of the Pontine plain in the 1920s are an important source for the landscape reconstruction of this area, which has been studied by Peter Attema since the late 1980s. As in the Western part of the Netherlands, they record details of the surface topography that are now lost by continued subsidence and man-made changes. Elevations in particular are recorded to the nearest dm and sometimes to the cm, so the first product of the work will be a high resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM).

The manuscript maps of the Northern Netherlands were made by Johannes Beckering in the 1780s and are rich in detail (a simplified small-scale version hangs in our canteen), but need significant geographical correction and interpretation before they can be ‘stitched together’ into a useful digital topographic map. Recently, Reinder Reinders with the help of UB staff has conducted archival research to trace and scan the dispersed manuscript maps and various intermediate maps made by Beckeringh. These scans will now be georeferenced using points recognized on the Military Map of the Netherlands and, if copyright issues are resolved, the topographic information can be digitized for research and educational purposes.

For further information about this project, contact Dr. Martijn van Leusen,

Last modified:23 July 2018 1.29 p.m.

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