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Geocoding experience of the complex of Russian geographical drawings of the 16-17th centuries " - OPEN
The "spatial turn" has happened in humanitarian knowledge in the last quarter of the 20th century. For historians it is expressed, first of all, in keen interest in spatial aspect of the historical phenomena. This aspect demands to extract "geographical information" from historical sources and to analyse it. This kind of information has always stayed into many types of historical documents but was a little demanded before. Nevertheless, features of Russian historiography don't allow to say that "spatial dimension" of history has already taken the place appropriate to it in collective consciousness of our scholar community.
There are many publications of microregional and regional scale on historical geography which have still not form some general mosaic picture – as owing to a variety of research tasks and applied editorial technics, and owing to geographical dissociation of the mapped material. Most of historians, even if their "narrow" specialization is connected with "geographical information" of historical sources continue to remain away from this work. That is why some historians and geographers begin to think of creation of a certain general information platform capable to integrate a set of the mixed researches and case studies dealing with "spatial aspect" – on the basis of modern geoinformation technologies. National historical geographic information systems (GIS) opening access to materials via the ordinary Internet browser are already created in many countries . We are destined to go through this way as well but we are waited by many difficulties on it. So far it is possible to speak only about the experience which is bringing us closer to achieve this purpose.
One of the most perspective directions is integration of the historical sources containing explicit geographical information (i.e. historical cartographical drawings and maps) into GIS. They may become necessary for a wide range of users because "geographical information" of these sources is intuitively transparent thanks to visualization. The geography reflected by them covers, though in different degree, the territory of all the country.
A lot of things in this direction were made by geographers. For example, complex of maps prepared under the direction of general A. Mende in the middle of the 19th century lately was shared in online access [see, e.g.: 9]. But earlier materials are almost not covered by this activity – as owing to absence of a mathematical basis and because of limited access for researchers to archival materials: there is the known dissonance between users and archival community– archives aren't always interested in providing broad access through the Internet to their materials.
The Russian drawings of the 17th century form the group of cartographic materials that seems to be worthy of online publication first of all. On the one hand, job of cataloguing of these documents is already done by V. S. Kusov  (though detection of new documents that haven't been registered yet is quite possible). On the other hand, the existing catalog can be properly used only when any document considered in it (or at least the majority of considered) is in public access. Separate theme groups of drawings are published in several books and articles [see, e.g.: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7], however the majority of the 17th century drawings is still available only in archives and manuscript collections of libraries.
As an evidence of technical, geographical and artistic thought and as a historical source the Russian drawings of the 17th century are unique – they are the visible embodiment of the Russian direction of development of cartography. It is impossible to underestimate their importance for studies of wide range. Already now they are being used for studies on toponymics, history of town planning and architecture (M. V. Nikolaeva, A.D. Shakhova).
So the idea to create GIS providing online access to the Russian 17th century cartographical drawings was born. Our study was supported by Russian Scientific Fond (project №14-18-02121). It is done by Laboratory of Historical Geoinformatics in the Institute of General History together with Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts.
Catalogue made by V. S. Kusov contains 1057 drawings: 992 drawings of the 17th century, one document of the 16th century and 64 drawings of the beginning of the 18th century. Among them 75% are stored in Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts. That is why the best place where all these materials might be located is the web-site of this Archive . Directorate of the Archive welcomed the idea.
Till the moment there were made digital copies of about 700 drawings. Large format drawings were copied by parts with the subsequent compiling of several rasters in one image. The received images undergo geocoding procedure – by correlation of the recognizable elements from drawings with the identified elements of a modern landscape.
Characteristic feature of Moscovy 17th century drawings is that they were created without strict compliance of scale, without system of coordinates and, certainly, without any projection. Therefore more or less standard procedure of geocoding of raster cartographical images in this case doesn't work. On the other hand, not deformed image would have too bad divergences with that landscape which is represented on the drawing. Therefore the algorithm of transformation of Gelmert with interpolation by a method of the closest neighbor which carries out shift and turn of a raster (fig. 1a) is applied to a raster binding in GIS. This algorithm doesn't change the picture to unrecognizability (unlike, for example, algorithm of "a rubber leaf" which deforms all field of a raster between defined points – fig. 1b) and, at the same time, allows to correlate, whenever possible, visually submitted image to real geographical objects. Till this moment the procedure of geocoding was undergone by 500 drawings.
Quantum GIS 2.8. was used as the basic GIS software for geocoding. This program has an open code, it is free for share. It makes available to the user the majority of the tools used in modern GIS-technologies. This is more and more popular alternative of proprietary production of the ESRI . However the Internet user doesn't need to possess any special skills of work with this program, as well as in general with GIS. Access to the drawings is provided via any Internet browser.
For creation of web-GIS data are loaded on the server under control of the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS operating system, with the installed LAMP package. Geoserver v.2.6 and NextGisWeb are used as storages of original cartographical information. Data transmission to the browser is carried out under the WMS protocol. The set of layers on the WMS client grants user to specify the information to be shown on the map. Each layer has limits of visibility: small-scale images disappear when the map brings closer. Reciprocally large-scale objects can be seen only when the view is rather large-scale. The raster images published on separate webpages are connected with web-GIS by low quality previews by means of the simple browser reference engine. Later access to high-quality rasters will be provided by means of lightbox. Also we are planning to open access to the SQL database of objects that redirects to the appropriate place on the map. Possibilities of Ajax serve for receiving replies to the requests with long values of fields via addressing separate php-files that send inquiries in SQL-database. Display of cartographical information is realized by means of the new, third version of the Openlayers tools. As a substrate the OpenStreetMap layer was used.
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2. Белокуров С.А. Древнерусская картография. Вып. 1: Планы Москвы XVII века. М., 1898.
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8. Фролов А.А. Геоинформационные технологии в современных историко-географических исследованиях отечественных историков // Вопросы географии. СПб. Сборник 136. Вопросы исторической географии. М., 2013.
9. Щекотилов В.Г., Лазарев О.Е., Лазарева О.С. Формирование информационного пространства крупномасштабных и обзорных архивных карт XIX в. для автоматизации исследований регионального уровня (на примере "межстоличного" региона) // Геодезия и картография, 2010, №6.
10. QGIS: A Free and Open Source Geographic Information System [Электронный ресурс] – URL: http://qgis.org/. (Дата обращения: 19.03.2016).
Создание сайта: А. А. Голубинский, Г. Б. Якушин. Съемки: А. А. Голубинский, К. В. Баранов, К. Сафронов, ЭЛАР, ДИМИ