Surveying Empires
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Surveying Empires is a collaborative international research project exploring the landscape legacies of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India.

The purpose of the Surveying Empires project is to better understand the built heritage associated with the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS), and to raise greater awareness globally of India’s surveying heritage and history and also its international significance as ‘heritage in danger’.

The project focuses on towers constructed for the purpose of surveying and mapping India in the 19th century by the GTS. Led by George Everest in the 1820s and 1830s, teams of skilled surveyors used these towers for their trigonometrical survey work, covering the entire sub-continent with a network of ‘triangulation stations’.

Today, these GTS survey towers stand as a testament to the enterprise, determination and ingenuity of all those who mapped India two hundred years ago. Based on the research carried out through the Surveying Empires project, this web-site shows something of what survives in the landscapes of West Bengal from this huge and ambitious effort to map India.

Surveying Empires is a collaborative project between Queen’s University Belfast (UK) and the University of Calcutta (India) and benefitted from funding granted by the British Academy through its International Mobilities and Partnerships programme. The project has drawn from the expertise and support of the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis (CDDA) and Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork at Queen’s University Belfast, and the Department of Archaeology of the University of Calcutta.

GTS surey tower at Bhola, West Bengal.  Photo: K. Killey, November 2016

GTS survey tower at Bhola West Bengal.
Photo: K. Lilley, November 2016