Follow the road: historical GIS for evaluating the development of routes in the Negev region during the twentieth century

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At the beginning of the twentieth century, a British mapping team led by Captain S. F. Newcombe surveyed and mapped the Negev region, Sinai, and western Jordan. The map was mainly produced for military use. Consequently, it included a network of branched routes, water supplies and facilities, and topographic contours. This study used this map to examine the development of routes in the Negev region between the beginning of and until the end of the twentieth century. First, the individual sheets comprising the study area were pieced together and the accuracy of the map was evaluated. The accuracy found on the Newcombe map was 0.76 mm on the map scale, equivalent to 100.3 m. Route development during the twentieth century was then evaluated by comparing the routes digitized from the Newcombe map to digitized routes on a late twentieth-century map. The results do not reveal tremendous changes in path, shape, or number of routes. Instead, they merely indicate the natural development in their quality. This Historical GIS-based approach provided a useful technique for analyzing and comparing the line segments extracted from historical and modern maps. The implemented approach may also serve other geographical or historical studies aiming to examine the development of branched networks throughout history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-546
Number of pages15
JournalCartography and Geographic Information Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Cartography and Geographic Information Society.


  • Historical GIS
  • Newcombe
  • Palestine
  • accuracy of historical maps
  • historical maps
  • routes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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