Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 4: from the Ya-hu oasis to Hami.

[Back to Part 3: from the Hun-kua-ling sandhills to the Ya-hu oasis] From Ya-Hu to Hami, we can see that Younghusband now has to turn south, as his own map shows. The journey takes from June 23rd to July 4th, or twelve days. His mapmaker places Ula Khutun almost halfway from Ya-hu to Hami, butContinue reading “Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 4: from the Ya-hu oasis to Hami.”

Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 3: Hun-kua-ling sandhills to Ya-hu oasis

[Go back to Part 2: From the Galpin Gobi to the Hun-kua-ling sandhills.] From here to the Ya-hu oasis (which Younghusband reaches on June 23rd) the route is obscure, and we find old maps less useful. We have to rely more upon comparing his route description with images of the landscape. Let’s work backwards fromContinue reading “Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 3: Hun-kua-ling sandhills to Ya-hu oasis”

Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 2: Galpin Gobi to Hun-kua-ling sandhills

[Go back to Part 1: Kwei-hwa-cheng to Galpin Gobi] On the 13th we passed through some low hills, and then descended a valley in which were some gnarled and stunted elm trees, the first trees I have seen in Mongolia. They were about thirty feet high, and evidently very old. We then passed over aContinue reading “Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 2: Galpin Gobi to Hun-kua-ling sandhills”

Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 1: Kwei-hwa-cheng to Galpin Gobi

[Go back to the Introduction] At the end of Chapter 4 of The Heart of a Continent, it is April, 1887, and Younghusband has travelled northwest from Peking to a town called Kalgan, and then to a further town—from which caravans to the far West depart—called Kwei-hwa-cheng. I’ll begin by pulling in one of theContinue reading “Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887, Part 1: Kwei-hwa-cheng to Galpin Gobi”

Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887: Introduction

In 1887, Francis Younghusband travelled across China, a tale he told in his 1896 book, The Heart of a Continent. Although the book describes Younghusband’s entire journey overland journey from Peking to British India, the part we’re going to look at is specifically the first leg of his trip, the crossing of the Gobi desertContinue reading “Mapping Francis Younghusband in the Gobi Desert, 1887: Introduction”

Shaded Relief using Skymodels, courtesy of Raster Chunk Processing

A couple of weeks ago I watched some excellent presentations from the How To Do Map Stuff day organized by Daniel Huffman. One that I particularly enjoyed was Jake Adams’s talk on building shaded relief out of hillshades. Toward the end of his talk he brought in something called a skymodel. In this post, I’llContinue reading “Shaded Relief using Skymodels, courtesy of Raster Chunk Processing”

The Hollow Plain of Ka’ra

I learned about the existence of  the hollow plain of Ka’ra, in Iraq, when I was reading Gertrude Bell’s letters. On the 10th of February, 1911, Gertrude, who is forty-two years old, sets out across the Syrian desert from Damascus to go to Hit, some 600 km east, on the Euphrates River. Both of theseContinue reading “The Hollow Plain of Ka’ra”

How do we understand the size of Syria?

This inset appears on a CIA map of Syria from 2004. We can assume it’s meant to give the map reader a sense of the size of Syria by comparing it to a region that he or she is familiar with. I’m fascinated, first, by the assumption that the decision-maker reading the map is locatedContinue reading “How do we understand the size of Syria?”

Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

Fans of the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire basemap (or DARE basemap) may have noticed that it disappeared from Peripleo a few months ago! Peripleo is the superb mapping site where you can look up the locations of places in the ancient world. It is is absolutely indispensable in those moments when you justContinue reading “Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire”

Shaded relief with BlenderGIS (2019), part 3

[Back to Part 2] Why do this? The shaded relief images (also often called a hillshade) that GIS software produces are pretty good. Here’s one made with QGIS. Hillshading algorithms typically take three parameters: the elevation of the sun, the azimuth (direction) of the sun, and the vertical exaggeration of the landscape. (60°, 337° andContinue reading “Shaded relief with BlenderGIS (2019), part 3”