Land surveying plays an essential role in nation-building, and some understanding of land survey is essential to comprehend any ancient city-state or modern country or nation, neither of which could exist without some kind of land survey.
The measurement problems posed by land surveying on a large scale prior to the age of GPS follow us from early technological eras down to the present day, and this applies even to the borders of some States of the United States.
Ivars Peterson at the Mathematical Tourist in Rectangular States and Kinky Borders talks about the fact that some of the borders of U.S. States have land surveying anomalies and are not as perfectly straight as they are shown on maps. Take a look at at that short but informative piece.
- The Mathematics of Surveying Part I by Tony Phillips of Stony Brook University.
- The Mathematics of Surveying: Part II. The Planimeter by Bill Casselman, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
- C.A. White, History of the Rectangular Survey System, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, Pdf Version modified from scans by NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICE, SPRINGFIELD, VA 22161. The 46MB searchable PDF takes quite a bit of time to load.
Bernard Hostrop, Surveyor General of the United States in 1983, writes there by way of introduction:
"With its beginning more than two hundred years ago, the United States Rectangular Survey System is typically, and yet somewhat uniquely, a record of the American frontier spirit blended with the concept of government for the people."
See my two previous postings about alleged Old World surveyors and ancient land surveying.
See also Three Mount Rushmore Presidents Were Land Surveyors: The Territorial Imperative: You Have to Understand the Importance of Property in Law, Politics and History: LAND not POTS ruled