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Surveying and its Ancient Beginnings

Although today land surveying often makes use of GPS, computer models, and other recent technical developments, the profession of surveying actually dates back centuries.


Land surveying principles date back nearly as far as the idea of land ownership. As soon as individuals or groups owned specified areas of land, there was a need to describe or delineate who owned what, particularly to solve land disputes. 


Let us take a step back several thousand years before the Romans, enter the world of Ancient Egypt, where the role of land and land administration started. With the first recorded land register dating back to Egypt in 3000 BC with a focus on re-establishment of farm boundaries following floods of the Nile River and construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza, Ancient Egypt was at the forefront of the surveying profession.  When the Nile River overflowed its banks, washing out the existing boundaries between farms, these boundaries were re-established through the use of simple geometrical concepts by a surveyor. At this time, surveyors were known as rope stretchers because the measuring device they used was a knotted rope.


Many other notable Ancient societies took note of the Egyptian lead for clarity in land ownership. The Ancient Babylons (1200 BC) started the trend of Boundary Stones (Babylonian Kudurru) which held the description of the property, the name of the surveyor and the owner, and the ownership history.


The Ancient Greeks (500 BC) adopted many of the Egyptian surveying techniques and took them further with their mathematicians Thales and Pythagoras. 


The Roman Empire established land surveying as an official profession from around the 1st Century AD. Agrimensores (land surveyors) were known for creating perfectly straight lines and right angles. 


Surveying as a profession is one of the oldest, but also one of the most progressive and evolutionary. Starting with knotted ropes 6000 years ago to GPS, Lidar and computers these days, Hanlons are fortunate to be operating at a time of increasing technological advancements that enhance surveying capabilities to benefit our firm and our clients.
 

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Mitchel Hanlon Consulting Pty Ltd ABN 51 104 693 736