History of  Surveying and Measurement

International Institution for the History of Surveying and Measurement

A Permanent Institution within the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)


The Struve Geodetic Arc included in the UNESCO World Heritage List

The UNESCO delegates have adopted the Struve Geodetic Arc as a World Heritage Monument at its meeting in Durban, South Africa 15 July 2005.

At the FIG Congress in Melbourne in 1994 Jan de Graeve, former Chair of FIG Commission 1 proposed to see the longest meridian measurement classified by the UNESCO. The IIH&M has prepared files, sponsored research and coordinated preparatory works over the last ten years. The National Land Survey of Finland and the Ministry of Education Finland coordinated the collection of signatrues of the ten concerned countries from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova  and Ukraine and also printed the final version of the documents submitted to UNESCO and its experts (ICOMOS). FIG and the IIH&M have assisted the process by supporting the initiative and giving positive recommendations.

Measurements of the Struve Arc from 1815 to 1855 contributed to understand the figure of the earth and allow us and our colleagues in the future to re-measure the same points in future and monitor the evolution and changes in the earth shape.

This first "scientific instrument" classified by UNESCO could be linked with the 30th Meridian through Africa (11 countries). At the FIG conference in Cairo in April 2005, a plaque of this Meridian was unveiled near Cairo, and in 2004 another southern point near Buffelfontein in South Africa was unveiled to commemorate the 30th Arc Measurement.

The IIH&M want to express its special thanks to Jim Smith (UK), Honorary Secretary of the IIH&M, who initiated the research, to Vitaly Kaptjug (Russia) who assisted the local colleagues by the research for the original points and Pekka Tätilä (Finland) for his research assistance, Jarmo Ratia (Finland) for his technical support of the project and the coordination with his politicians, and all our colleagues who each one in their country contributed to the achievement of these goals.

The IIH&M is ready to help and monitor the preservations of the Struve Meridian Arc and the extension to South Africa by preserving the points of the 30th Meridian and to present them in the future to UNESCO.

Jan de Graeve
Honorary Director of IIS&M
18 July 2005

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This page is maintained by the FIG Office. Last revised on 15.04.2020.