The History of Land Surveying

Prodesign Plus, P.C.  -  Surveying

The Egyptians first used surveying to accurately divide land into plots for the purpose of taxation.  When the Nile River overflowed its banks and washed out farm boundaries, boundaries were re-established through the application of simple geometry.  The nearly perfect squareness and north-south orientation of the Great Pyramid of Giza, built approximately 2700B.C., affirm the Egyptian's command of surveying. 

Under the Romans, land surveyors were established as a profession.  Around 120 B.C. Greeks developed the science of geometry and were using it for precise land division.  The Greeks developed the first piece of surveying equipment, the Diopter. The Greeks standardized procedures for conducting surveys.

Large scale surveys are necessary pre-requisite to map-making.  In the late 1780's, a team from the Ordinance Survey of Great Britain, originally under General William Roy began the Principal Triangulation of Britain using the specially built Ramsden theodolite.

Around 1800 A.D., the beginning of the industrial revolution, the importance of "exact boundaries" and the demand for public improvements brought surveying into a prominent position.  The Science of Geodetic and Plane surveying were developed as were new instruments.

Along with the purchase of more property, additional property and land surveying was done.  This continues even today.  Surveying affects most everything in our daily lives.  A few of the areas where surveying is used is to map the earth above and below the sea, preparation of navigational maps, establishing boundaries of public and private lands, development of databases for natural resource management and developing engineering data for bridge construction, roads, buildings and land development.