Cartographic Heritage into the Digital

Cartoheritage on the Web

5711.2 - Old maps into digital: the example of 'Geographic, Military and Statistical Map of Greater Poland' (1807-1812)

Wednesday, July 5
4:30 PM - 4:50 PM
Location: Hoover

The aim of the paper is to present an ongoing project of developing a method of old maps’ digital edition. The work is based on “Geographic, Military and Statistical Map of Grater Poland" (1807-1812) – a perfect example of a map providing the whole catalogue of problems related to their presentation in the digital form. Today, we can observe an increasing interest in spatial humanities, as well as more frequent maps dissemination via web services. However, consistent methods of their depiction in the digital manner have not yet been developed. The aim of the project is not only to develop such a method, but also to indicate its perspectives and constraints in the context of its future application among the whole array of old maps.
The first stage of the project and the paper involves the analysis of old maps’ editions elaborated until now (paper and digital). It will allow to determine previous achievements in that field, as well as to assess strengths and weaknesses of the editions and relate the proposed method to those already developed such as: “OldMapsOnline” (; accessed: 23.09.2016), “David Rumsey Historical Map Collection” (; accessed: 23.09.2016) or “Historical Maps of the Habsburg Empire” (; accessed: 23.09.2016).
The most important part encompasses map’s digital edition which is formed by several components that will be stored on a website at the end of the project. “The Map of Greater Poland" consists of 8 sheets covering Poznań Department of the Great Duchy of Warsaw and its scale is approx. 1:78 300 based on the field survey. Once colorful, what remains today are only its black-and-white photocopies as it was lost during the Second World War. Due to that, one of the research tasks covers the reconstruction of the original color of cartographic symbols. This stage has to be preceded by studies based on the data sources (old maps) as well as literature in order to find similarities in the use of color on archival topographic maps. Next step comprises of map georeferencing both as individual sheets and mosaicked sheets. The application of appropriate methods of georeferencing (linear or spline transformations) is also an important problem. Georeferenced sheets are the basis for spatial database development which will serve as an overlay allowing users to search the map. The database includes settlement network, outbuildings, major roads, afforestation and hydrography. Each feature in the database is supplied with unique identifier, therefore it possible to set relations between features form various databases e.g. "" (; accessed: 31.009.2015) or contemporary, reference spatial database called “The database of topographic objects” elaborated by Polish NMA. Since each map published online should be accompanied by metadata, the project includes a source commentary describing every step of the edition development. It also includes information related to: conditions and circumstances of map elaboration, data sources, the scope of content and methods of its depiction along with generalization analysis, mathematical accuracy, and scale.
The consistent model of publishing old maps as web services is the main outcome of the project. The elaboration of such a method based on the “The Map of Greater Poland" map will allow not only to publish the map in the way corresponding with contemporary geoscience trends, but also will facilitate distributing of such editions. Various users will be able to make use of such a digital map including scholars (historians, geographers, etc.) and all those interested in local history and geography. The model itself will be also applicable in the future to other maps.

Tomasz Panecki

Research assistant
University of Warsaw/Polish Academy of Sciences

Research assistant in University of Warsaw (Faculty of Geography and Regional Studies) and Polish Academy of Sciences (Institute of History). MA in history (2012) and MSc in geography (2013).

Preparing PhD dissertation on harmonisation and integration semantic data form historical maps. Working in projects combining historical geography, geographic indexation of historical sources, old maps analysis and ontological approach towards historical data integration for Polish hGIS geoportal.


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Mátyás Gede

Senior lecturer
Eötvös Loránd University

Mátyás Gede is a senior lecturer at the Department of Cartography and Geoinformatics, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. His main fields of interest are globe digitising, virtual globes, webcartography and map projections. He is the vice chair of the ICA Commission on Cartographic Heritage into the Digital.


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5711.2 - Old maps into digital: the example of 'Geographic, Military and Statistical Map of Greater Poland' (1807-1812)

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