The History of Land Surveying: Facts about the Past, Present, and Future Possibilities

Updated: March 23, 2016

The History of Land Surveying: Facts about the Past, Present, and Future

You may not realise it, but land survey is an important part of your life particularly the area where you live. Any land owner needs to accomplish it before proceeding to other necessary activities involving land; for instance, construction, mapping, buying, selling, and a lot more. For this, it is important for you to learn some facts about land surveying. Well, the truth is a lot of people are not aware of surveying and don? think much about it until they need it. But that shouldn? always be the case. If you aspire to have your own property, it would be best to acquire knowledge about surveying. In this article, we?e going to tackle the basics: the definition and history of land surveying.

Surveying Defined

Surveying is the science of mapping and measuring specific areas of the environment using mathematics and advanced technology and equipment. By merely looking at this definition, one can easily understand that working in the surveying field in no joke. It requires a significant amount of knowledge and skills. Surveyors are licensed professionals who are technologically adept. They need to undergo intensive trainings from time and again to continually learn about the field. Technology advances in short spans of time; and so surveyors need to keep up with such progression.

Land Surveying in the Earlier Times

Did you know that surveying has been around for centuries now?

To be more specific, it has been used for 6,000 years based on historical records. Are you familiar with the monument Stonehenge? Reports suggest that it has used surveyors and employed peg and rope geometry. Additionally, other important evidences were reportedly found in ancient Egypt. Egyptians are said to create a land ownership registry in relation to the importance of land boundaries to taxation purposes. Surveyors were already extant even before the Great Pyramids were built and before the boundary markers of the overflows of Nile River were reassessed.

Meanwhile, the instrument ‘Groma’ was first used in Mesopotamia; while the instrument ‘Diopter’ was developed in Greece. These happenings indicated the advancement of surveying and the application of knowledge in geometry. This was also when the procedures for surveying were standardised.

As for being a profession, it was the Romans who first recognised surveying as a real job. In fact, they gave dignity to the field. Do you know the god Terminus? He was considered the defender of boundaries. Additionally, annual celebrations (terminalia) were conducted to celebrate the significance of Terminus. Land surveyors became in demand during the Roman Empire due to huge expansion and a steady building schedule.

In 1086, an important event took place. William the Conqueror ordered the Domesday Book, a record of landowners and the lands they owned and occupied. For this, the exact boundaries of personal properties were given more importance.

Land Surveying in the Modern Years

Science and technology progressed in the next centuries; there were a lot of discoveries in relation to the surveying field. In 1787, Jesse Ramsden made great advances in the precision of the theodolite instrument. His actions made possible the creation of a tool used to measure angles in vertical and horizontal planes. Meanwhile, telescopes were also developed; hence the greater precision and new ways of measurement.

In 1600?, triangulation was birthed; it led to various changes in land mapping and surveying techniques. It was used for mapping entire countries.

The Industrial Revolution became in control in the beginning of the 19th century, and more advanced surveying instruments were being developed. This period was considered a boom in the field of surveying. Surveyors were in demand, for they played big roles in assisting the construction of canals, roads, railways, etc.

Land Surveying at Present

Surveying has continued to develop as time went by; surveyors get to use highly-advanced equipment as technology continues to advance as well. 3D scanning and GPS have entered the picture, although a lot of basic surveying methods are still used. At present, surveying is definitely one of the most important fields and professions that affect various people.

Drone Technology in Surveying

You?e probably read our article on Drone Technology in Land Surveying, so I won? go into this too much. First off, drones refer to unmanned aircrafts or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They are also known as flying robots. They can either fly by themselves using flight plans or be remotely controlled. These aircrafts are most commonly known to be used for military tasks, but they can also be used in various activities that include surveillance, fire fighting, weather monitoring, traffic monitoring, search and rescue, and recreational activities. And of course, they are likewise currently used in surveying.

Apart from learning the advantages of using drones, every enthusiast should know more information on how the equipment can improve and transform surveying in the current and future times. Below are some facts for you:

  • UAVs are safe to use in various situations.
  • Far and difficult locations have become possible and easier to be reached.
  • High-definition and highly precise maps can be developed and created.
  • UAVs make it possible to gather different types of data like photos and videos.
  • It is possible to instantly upload the gathered pieces of information to a server; and any authorized person can have access to the uploaded information wherever they are.

As you see, everything becomes easier through the use of drones. It is likewise safer to use; hence, more tasks can be done immediately and efficiently. This is an obvious indication of a great improvement in the survey industry.

From the Old Times to the Current Days

Looking back at the whole history of land surveying, we can say that it has travelled miles and improved a lot. As time went by, the importance becomes higher. And as technology progresses, various developments have come out, making the process easier and a lot more helpful. From simple equipment to UAVs, the surveying field will surely travel further and play more important roles in people? lives.

In a Nutshell

Having read the information above, you now probably understand what surveying is. Do you own a land? Or are you planning to buy one? If so, then it really helps to be knowledgeable about this process. As mentioned earlier, surveying needs to be accomplished before other activities concerning lands can push through. Therefore, go on and continue to feed your mind. The history of land surveying can teach you a lot in the same way that updated information can.

In an upcoming article we will discuss the future of land surveying and where we are going with our profession.

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Originally published on March 23, 2016

About the Author

Wendell T. Harness

I’ve been building online properties since the late 1980’s and transitioned to web design in 1999. I formed Harness Media in 2005 to help businesses grow through online marketing. I also talk to cats in a silly voice.

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