A Historical Geodatabase

Guido Abbattista Project and historical analysis
Andrea Favretto Geodatabase and digital mapping
Giulia Iannuzzi Research and data entry

Department of Humanities – University of Trieste (Italy)

“The temporal dimension of world connectedness,
or: how long did it take to travel by sea
to several overseas destinations and how did that change
over the four centuries of the modern era?”

GlobalSeaRoutes (GSR) is a relational geospatial database aimed at the study of sea routes on a global scale  in the modern and contemporary ages, in order to understand how the degree of world interconnectedness from the standpoint of maritime journey times evolved over four centuries (1500-1914).

Project launch: January 2019.
Expected publication online: October-November 2020.

GSR is

• a relational database with a spatial component (Geodatabase)

• a scientific cooperation between the University of Trieste and the Italian Navy Hydrographic Institute, with the participation of Marco Pierozzi

GSR objectives:

• to analyse and represent sea connections

• to understand globalisation as a function of overseas expansion and the connected voyages, explorations and transportations from the late-15th century to the beginning of the 20th century

• collecting data from printed travel accounts and manuscript ship logbooks

• building relational online database to be accessed on the Web

Software used for the database: PostgreSQL, PgAdmin, PostGIS, QGIS
Experimental data visualization: Tableau, Nodegoat, Leaflet, D3.js

Excerpt from the circumnavigation of the Novara (1857-59)

Ongoing developments

• debug of the database structure
• data entry
• web application

Web application

• enables final users to obtain comparative synoptic visualisations,
e.g. dynamic maps and comparative quantitative tabulations,
designing routes according to specific research interests and needs

• search options based on series of variables, such as:
    -   time periods
    -   geographical areas and relations
    -   vessels nationality and purpose of the voyages
    -   technical characteristics of vessels and propulsion systems
    -   navigation techniques, relating to nautical, astronomical and cartographical knowledge and skills

Sample spatial queries:​

- Routes by ship​

- Routes by destination (Europe to Cape Horn) Background 1

- Routes by destination (Europe to Cape Horn) Background 2

Sample query by attribute​

- Navigation tools​

Awards (2018-19)

Financial support of the Foreman-Casali Foundation;  
one-year research grant in «Social Sciences and Humanities» from the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region;
scientific patronage of the Italian Cartographic Association

Guido Abbattista:, (+39) 040 558 7501
Andrea Favretto:, (+39)  040 558 3641
Giulia Iannuzzi:, (+39) 040 558 2826

Background image: Hendrik Hondius, Nova totius Terrarum Orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, 1630, detail. Copy at the State Library of New South Wales via Wikimedia Commons.