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Historical Spatial Data Infrastructures on the Example of Old Charts

Josip FARIČIĆ, University of Zadar, Department of Geography, Dr F. Tuđmana 24i, 23000 Zadar, Croatia

Maps are exceptionally important spatial databases. They can be used to find out various spatial data elements, as well as how they were obtained, analysed and what their purpose is. Through centuries, historical spatial data infrastructures have been characterized as unsystematic, partial and methodologically unequal, which certainly led users to wrong conclusions and thereby wrong decisions. This was especially apparent in maritime cartography, where geographic data quality is directly related to navigation safety. Actually, quantity and quality of represented spatial data were proportional to the geographic perception precision of corresponding navigation aquatorium, and the methodological equalization was proportional to the capability of diverse international communication, which is essential in navigation. As long as the process of obtaining, analysing and representing geographic data at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century was not systematized and institutionalized, charts could not be used as a reliable and certain sources of various information to sailors and others to whom spatial relations in coastal, insular and sea areas are of paramount importance. In the case of maritime cartography of the Adriatic Sea, modernization of systematic spatial data infrastructure was done just during the brief period of French administration at the beginning of the 19th century during a partial hydrographical survey from 1806 to 1809 led by Ch. F. Beautemps Beaupré which was subsequently completed by the Austrian navy. The sophisticated and milestone work resulted in a capital cartographic achievement – the collection Carta di Cabottagio del Mare Adriatico disegnata ed incisa sotto la direzione dell' I. R. Stato Maggiore in 1822–1824 and accompanying pilot Portolano del Mare Adriatico by Giacomo Marieni in 1830.

Keywords: historical spatial data infrastructure, maritime cartography, Adriatic Sea

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