HGIS for evaluating routes development in the Negev region (Israel) during the 20th century

Authors: Motti Zohar*,
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Historical Geography, Middle East
Keywords: HGIS, historical maps; Palestine; Newcombe; Routes
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Delaware A, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


At the beginning of the 20th century a British mapping team led by Captain S. F. Newcombe surveyed and mapped the Negev region, Sinai and western Jordan. The main purpose of the map produced was for military use and consequently it included a network of branched routes, water supply facilities and topographic contours. This study used this map to examine the development of the routes in the Negev region between the beginning and the end of the 20th century. First, the individual sheets of the map comprising the study area were pieced together and the accuracy of the map was evaluated. It was found that the accuracy of the Newcombe map is 100.3 m, equivalent to 0.8 mm on map scale, which is considered accurate by modern standards. Then the development of routes during the 20th century was inspected by comparing the routes digitized from the Newcombe map to routes digitized on a late 20th century map using GIS (Geographic Information System). The results do not imply of tremendous changes in path, shape or number of routes but rather indicate a mere natural development of their quality. The historical GIS-based approach provided a useful technique to analyze and compare the line segments extracted from both historical and modern maps. This approach implemented may also serve other geographical or historical studies aiming to examine the development of branched networks along the course of history.

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