Late 18th century Russian Navy maps

and the first 3D visualization of the walled city of Beirut.

In 1772 and 1773 Beirut was twice besieged by Russian forces in the context of a war between the Russian and Ottoman empires. Two manuscript maps of Beirut held at the Russian State Navy Archives in St. Petersburg, a sea-front view from the logbook of shebeca "Grecia" (1772) and a coastal map (1773), contain many details on the area inside the city's walls and the surrounding countryside.

Using available information and its comparison with maps produced several decades later allowed a significant part of depicted objects to be identified and georeferenced. These findings were used to estimate the accuracy of the map sources. Applying GIS techniques made it possible to produce a tentative reconstructed cityscape of Beirut for the late 18th century.The 3D map produced by the described method aimed to show how 18th-century Russian navy maps, combined with modern altimetric and topographical data, could help visualize the urban morphology and organization of the walled city of Beirut.

The document used as the base-map is the oldest detailed cartographic document discovered as yet of the city and provide invaluable — though occasionally inaccurate —data of the position and shape of the military fortifications, the walls and other main buildings such as mosques, church, baths, khans, etc. Numerous problems were encountered and dealt with during the carrying out of this case study. Found solutions and developed techniques may greatly contribute to the production of similar documents for other cities of the Levant, as well as other 3D maps based on early 19th century maps.

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Authors: Michael F. Davie, Mitia Frumin

Article and Image Source:


Michael F. Davie, Mitia Frumin

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