Paper and Virtual Cities New methodologies for the use of historical sources in virtual urban cartography
08 / 2003 - 04 / 2008
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
This research is concerned with the development of new methodologies for the use of historical manuscript maps, atlases and related texts in virtual urban cartography. Although these new methodologies in principal can be used with other historical sources, we shall concentrate on (manuscript) urban cartographical sources and fortification drawingsof the Low Countries (16th-17th Centuries) in Dutch and European Collections. Technically speaking it is possible to digitise all historic sources and integrate these seamlessly with each other into new (re-) constructions. But how do these (re-) constructions relate to the original and how can we assess their reliability and veracity? It is difficult to develop reliable virtual maps based on the great diversity of cartographical sources of the pre-cadastral period, which vary in scale, precision, etc. But even if we can overcome these technical problems, methodological questions remain. Differences in reliability between maps, or between different parts of the same map, are not only due to measurement techniques but also due to their original function and context. By studying how maps were used in different contexts a set of parameters will be developed to assess their practicability for historical research of town planning and urban design. These parameters will result in a matrix that visualizes the reliability and veracity of historical town plans and virtual (re) constructions (separately or in combination) in relation to function and context. The importance of the research lies in the integration of historical sources of urban cartography and digital research/design tools. The key objective is to develop methodologies which a) permit researchers to use historical maps and related sources more accurately in creating virtual reconstructions and b) allow users to recognize better technical manipulations and distortions of truth used in the process. Its ultimate goal is to make choices in the process of digitisation more explicit and to allow an ethical use of historical sources for research and design. Keywords: historical cartography, architectural/town planning history, knowledge organisation, ict.