An Overview on Ancient and Modern Land Surveying

Published: 18th October 2011
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Land surveying is the science of measuring elevations, directions, and distance to identify and set boundaries on areas of land. It utilizes the principles and methods of engineering, law, mathematics, and physics. It is a science that continues to evolve as modernization provides better understanding of and means for reliable measurement.

Historical records affirm that land surveying has already existed since the ancient times. Egyptian, Roman, and European land surveying records are prime examples. The construction of the Egyptian pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid of Giza, shows that the ancient Egyptians were well-versed in building majestic structures of enduring sturdiness and geometric proportions. In addition, the ancient Egyptians possessed adequate knowledge and means to redraw boundary lines after the Nile River overflowed.

The Roman Empire was able to advance the land surveying system of the ancient Egyptians. Romans had official land surveyors who created and measured lines and angles via simple tools. Similarly, European land surveyors played important roles in broadening the available information on land surveys. In particular, the Domesday Bookóutilized by William the Conqueror in an effort to dominate Medieval Englandócontains rich information on land measurements and boundaries.

The reliability of land surveys in the past was inevitably affected by the simplicity of the available land surveying tools. During those times, land surveyors used ropes and chains of varying lengths to measure distance, and compass-like devices to determine horizontal angles. As the times progressed, modern land surveying tools became available. For instance, modern land surveyors use the Leica Total Station to accurately measure distance as well as vertical and horizontal angles.

The Leica Total Station utilizes a computer system, telescope, tripod with leveling function, and a set of lasers and prisms to accurately determine and record distance and plane coordinates. It is one of the best modern equipment for land surveying. It is preferred by modern land surveyors due to its ability to get accurate measurements over long-distance and complicated topography.

The ropes, chains, and compasses of the ancient land surveyors and the Leica Total Station of the modern land surveyors serve as testaments of the advancement of land surveying. The goals of land surveying remain the same, but the efficiency of its methods and the accuracy of its tools increased over time. With this, modern surveyors can truly look forward to improving life with the help of an evolving land surveying system.

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