History of Surveying and Measurement

What are Surveying and Measurement?

From Problematum variorum geodaeticum. B Pitiscus, 1768- Courtesy Jan de Graeve.

By "surveying" is meant all those topics that come under the FIG definition of the term it is here at present mostly involved in those aspects of surveying relating in some way to the construction of maps.

By "measurement" is meant those activities that go into the making of measurements for surveying and related purposes.

The history of the topic has been studied by both practitioners and historians for many years. FIG (The International Federation of Surveyors) was formed in 1878 and around 1980 set up an ad hoc Commission in the History of Surveying. In 1998 this developed into an International Institution for the History of Surveying & Measurement, which hosts this web site.

Since time immemorial surveying has impinged particularly on astronomy and mathematics. It is under these heads that many of the historical references to surveying and related measurement instruments and techniques will be found although several other major areas of study also have relevant references.

Whilst there are one or more surveying institutions/societies in most countries history plays only a small part within those organisations. Thus one of the reasons for forming an international institution to bring the scattered individuals of like interest in contact with one another.

FIG holds a major international gathering at least once every year and the History of Surveying & Measurement endeavours to be represented at each of these with either an exhibition and/or a symposium.