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  • Author: Tomasz Panecki x
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The aim of the article was a comparison of the content’s scope, classification and presentation methods on topographical maps issued at the turn of 19th and 20th century covering the territory of former Russian partition. Three of such maps were chosen for the analysis, namely: Russian (scale 1:84,000), Austrian (scale 1:75,000) and German (scale 1:100,000). As a starting point of the study served an attempt at reconstruction of map legends, as, a coherent symbology key (i.e. map legend) can be found neither for Russian nor German map. It was conducted by employing the symbology keys prepared in the Interwar Period, as for the Russian map there was no legend enclosed, while in the case of German the legend enclosed featured only the road network. Apart from the legends, an analysis of the map sheets covering four areas was conducted. Those areas were, as follow: Brest, Dęblin, Pinsk and Pułtusk vicinites. The next stage was to elaborate a legend comparison with summary in the form of a table for particular thematic layers: settlement and built-up area, transport network, sacral buildings facilities and other buildings, land cover, hydrography, relief, and borders. An assumption was made that despite the apparent similarity of the scales (1:75,000, 1:84,000, 1:100,000) and source materials the maps analysed are distinct in terms of presentation of the geohistorical landscape. The settlements on the Russian map were illustrated in a schematic manner, while the other maps approached the subject more meticulously. The discrepancies involve also such areas as: road network, land cover, and waters, which were categorised along different sets of criterion. It happened that some categories present on the Russian map were absent from the Austrian and German. It involved such objects as: fascine roads, wooden churches or radiostations. Those differences stem from not only the “military mode” of elaboration of the German and Austrian map, but also conscious interference in the scope of content and classification methods.


The author presents an overview of the scope of content of selected topographic maps of Polish lands from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century in its quantitative aspect. 19 maps were analysed and a common conceptual model linked to the Database of Topographic Objects (DBTO10k) was developed on the basis of catalogues of object types. Quantitative statistics were also prepared for the object types from maps before and after harmonization. Differences between their numbers within the same maps reflect the conceptual variety of said maps. The number of types of objects (before and after harmonization) was then juxtaposed with selected thematic layers: water network, transport network, land cover, buildings, structures, and equipment, land use complexes, localities and other objects. Such factors as scales, publication dates and topographic services which created analysed maps were also taken into consideration. Additionally, the analysed maps demonstrate uneven levels of generalization. Inclusion of objects typical for large-scale cartography on topographic and general maps is one of the distinctive features.


The crowd-sourcing approach should be implemented into a new historical geoportal of Poland due to its increasing potential in WebGIS. Registered users will be able to acquire spatial data from various map series. As it requires feature class harmonization, a common symbol classification should be proposed. It will be based on chosen topographic maps of Polish land from the 19th and 20th centuries. Feature classes derived from archival maps will be standardized and reclassified, but with no information lost. This will be done in four steps which require: data acquisition, map content harmonization, feature class typification and attribute table elaboration. In addition, four methods of data harmonization can be distinguished: symbol sequence, semantic analogies, spatial relations and a combined method. The paper covers the elaboration of two thematic layers - roads and railways based on three topographic maps (Austrian 1:75 000, German 1:100 000, Russian 1: 126 000).


The array of archival maps from the 19th and 20th centuries is very large and, in order to assess their reliability for a particular analysis, some kind of evaluation form must be used. The proposed evaluation form comprises both formal and quantitative criteria, enriched with the maps’ elaboration circumstances, which may influence their reliability. These factors are also applied at both the spatial and attribute levels of information. Guidelines include: the scope of content, the map’s mathematical precision, the descriptive information correctness, the time reference of the content, and the information transfer efficiency.


Built-up area is a particularly important element of the content of topographic maps. Its presentation changes significantly when map scales are reduced, due to both conceptual and graphic generalization. What is more, historically, changes in the depiction of built-up area were consequences of changes in the intended use of topographic maps, development of technology and changes in the cultural landscape, of which the built-up area is an important component.1

The authors describe the method of presentation of built-up areas on six Polish topographic maps or series of maps. The above-mentioned maps include the following:

Topograficzna Karta Królestwa Polskiego (Topographic Map of the Polish Kingdom) at the scale of 1:126,000 developed in 1822–1843;

– topographic maps of the Polish Military Geographical Institute (MGI) at the scales of 1:25,000 and 1:100,000, published in 1930s;

– a series of military maps (or military-civilian maps) at the scales of 1:10,000, 1:25,000, 1:50,000 and 1:100,000, developed in 1956–1989, in accordance with the instruction for developing Soviet maps;

– a series of civilian maps at the scales of 1:10,000, 1:25,000, 1:50,000 and 1:100,000 developed after 1995.

The basis for a quantitative comparison of the content of the maps was the number of categories of objects (identifications) which constitute part of built-up area and are presented on individual maps as symbols, as well as the number of characteristics represented by these symbols. These characteristics are divided into two basic types: functional characteristics and physiognomic characteristics.

The analysis shows that military maps issued after the Second World War differ from the civilian maps, as they contain a much larger share of physiognomic characteristics, which is caused mainly from the fact that the vast majority of military maps distinguish between wooden and brick buildings. This difference was to large extent already noticeable among the oldest of the analysed maps – the Quartermaster’s Map and nineteenth-century Russian maps, which were partly modelled on the Quartermaster’s Map, and later also Soviet maps. Due to political reasons, the model of these Soviet maps was later adopted for the development of post-war Polish military maps. Out of all maps drawn up by military services, the inter-war MGI map serves special attention, as it was modelled on German maps. The main difference between military and civilian maps is foremost the fact that civilian maps include more functional characteristics of buildings and take into consideration new physiognomic characteristics related to residential development (compact, dense, multifamily dwellings, single family dwellings).

The analysed maps include not only the characteristics of buildings and built-up area, but also information on the features of the town – population size, number of village houses and the administrative function.