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Application of Geographic Information Systems(GIS) in the History of Cartography

Authors: Bangbo Hu

Abstract:

This paper discusses applications of a revolutionary information technology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), in the field of the history of cartography by examples, including assessing accuracy of early maps, establishing a database of places and historical administrative units in history, integrating early maps in GIS or digital images, and analyzing social, political, and economic information related to production of early maps. GIS provides a new mean to evaluate the accuracy of early maps. Four basic steps using GIS for this type of study are discussed. In addition, several historical geographical information systems are introduced. These include China Historical Geographic Information Systems (CHGIS), the United States National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), and the Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System. GIS also provides digital means to display and analyze the spatial information on the early maps or to layer them with modern spatial data. How GIS relational data structure may be used to analyze social, political, and economic information related to production of early maps is also discussed in this paper. Through discussion on these examples, this paper reveals value of GIS applications in this field.

Keywords: Cartography, GIS, history, maps.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1330681

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