Two Historic GIS and Their Applications on e-Databases

by Fan I-Chun  

Institut for History and Philology, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

The Background

Space and time are the two most important elements that constitute changes in history, culture, and environment.  Through computer technology, traditional maps can be transformed into virtual reality which can be updated and integrated with various database.  Before our projects, there was no adequate digital Chinese and Taiwanese history, culture and natural resources atlas which can serve as a comprehensive reference for scholars in Sinology studies.  The CCTS Project (Chinese Civilization in Time and Space) which began in 1996 aims to build up a fundamental system for historical GIS and basic data of Chinese history of the past 2000 years.  The THCTS Project (Taiwan History and Culture in Time and Space) which began in 2001 aims to develop a spatial-temporal application infrastructure on the basis of digitized Taiwanese history, culture and natural resource maps of the past 400 years.  

The Content

Both of these two systems consist of three components: geospatial base data, thematic map database, and WebGIS-based application.  Take THCTS for example. The development of Taiwanese history can be divided into Dutch and Spanish Period, Koxinga Period, Qing Dynasty, Japanese Colonial Period and After WW II.  Accordingly, we have developed various base maps of each period.  Among them,°mAtlas of the historic administrative pau division of Taiwan°n(1904) ,°mAtlas of the topography of Taiwan during the period of Japanese rule°n(1920) and the newly published “Topography of Taiwan” constitute the main body of the base maps.

On the basis of these geospatial base maps, we have integrated available researches in Taiwanese history and culture.  Nine groups of thematic maps were produced, such as population distribution, religion, education and aboriginal people.  In addition, through Internet and GIS functions, we integrated various Taiwanese maps and important research projects, such as “Taiwan Studies over the Internet”, “Taiwan Aerial Photo Management System” and “Taiwan Gazetteer”.  With this integration, we developed interface for data search and application, and further facilitated ongoing research projects of different kinds.   


In addition to providing digital geospatial and thematic maps, there are other applications of the two systems, CCTS and THCTS.  Take CCTS for example, the first application is the integration and retrieval of electronic database.  The CCTS system serves as an integrated tool for searching the “Scripta Sinica” and the bibliography of Chinese Local Gazetteers.  One can use this system to easily search the “Scripta Sinica” and the bibliography of Chinese Local Gazetteers through keywords or directly through the CCTS Web-GIS system, which allows users to locate a certain place or geographic area on the digital map and search for Chinese local histories related to that area.  The second application of CCTS is the application of digital archive projects.  The CCTS system is in collaboration with such digital archive projects as “Distribution of the Han Tombs and Temples” and “Mapping the Journeys of the Song-dynasty Poet Su Dongpo”.  The third application of CCTS is spatial analysis.  On the basis of various geospatial base data, researchers and users can create their own maps, integrate with available information and conduct spatial analysis using the CCTS system.  Research projects such as “Overlay Analysis of Ming-Qing Jiangnan Market Towns” and “Buffer Analysis for the Flooding of the Yellow River during the Tang Dynasty” are examples.  

The CCTS and THCTS are Web-GIS based infrastructure for content navigation and web mapping. These two systems integrate a variety of geospatial information and digital database via the Internet.  In the future, we hope to make more value of this spatio-temporal infrastructure through active participation from scholars across different fields.