International Institution for
the History of Surveying and Measurement
A Permanent Institution within the International
Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
- general history
From L'Henry-metre. H de Suberville, 1598. Courtesy
Jan de Graeve.
Much of the
subject of surveying (as defined under the entry for FIG
) is related to the use of scientific instruments. Interest goes back some
3000 years to the various simple equipment used to reestablish field
boundaries after the annual floods of the river Nile or to build tunnels,
aquaducts and other structures, the remains of which can be found in parts
of the Middle East today. From simple squares, water levels and the like the
profession has progressed through many forms of theodolite and level,
quadrant, astrolabe, zenith sector, plane table and numerous other
instruments. Many of these will be found in such reference works as:
Instruments: their history. by E R Kiely 1947. Reprinted 1979 by Carden
Surveying Reprints, Columbus, Ohio.
Scientific Instruments. Europe 1400-1800. Anthony Turner. 1987.
Sotheby's Publications. ISBN 0 85667 319 6
Divided Circle. A history of instruments for astronomy, navigation and
surveying. J A
Bennett. 1987. Phaidon-Christie's. ISBN 0 7148
zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Theodolits. Max Engelsberger. 1969.
Deutsche Geodätische Kommission, München.
Instruments of the 17th and 18th centuries and
their makers. Maurice Dumas. 1989 Portman Books London. Originally
published in French. First English edition
1972 B T Batsford Ltd.
Compass and Chain. Early American Surveyors and Their Instruments. S
Bedini. 2001. Professional Surveyors Publishing Company Inc. 774 pages. ISBN
Writings of the Roman Land Surveyors. B Campbell.
2000. Soc. For Promotion of Roman Studies. London. 570 pages. ISBN
the Line. How Mason and Dixon surveyed the most Famous Border in America.
E Danson. 2001.
Wiley, New York. 232 pages. ISBN 0-471-38502-6
papers on particular instruments can be found in a wide range of journals
but there are few books devoted just to instruments. For those with interest
in the instruments and makers of the USA a regular column by Silvio Bedini
in the journal American
Surveyor has been going
since 1985, now gathered together in the book above.
History of Science courses at
post-graduate level run at