The Caucasus Littoral of the Caspian Sea in the Russian Military Survey of 18th – first half of 19th cc.

(North Caucasus Federal University)

Purpose. To trace the Russian Naval officers’ impact into the Caucasus bank of the Caspian Sea studying in the context of its cartography and gathering the data about the Caspian as an inner sea with great position in economic and military-strategical means. Tools of assessment (Methods): Based on the critical analysis of Russian offices papers kept in the vaults of Russian National Archive of Navy (RGA VMF) we have performed some reconstruction of the history of setting up and performing the seaside survey expeditions together with studying the results gained by them and comments of the military practical users of the maps.
Discussion. The Author comes to the conclusion that military and political events in the region had massive influence on the way the survey expeditions of the Caucasus side of the Caspian Sea were held. The massive of data on both the coastal line and the outer Sea surface configuration had been constantly increasing correlative the extending of the Imperial influence in the region.
This occasion had the direct impact on the Caspian Sea cartography due to the fact, Russia had much more solid data about its North-Western and West sectors of the whole littoral. Finally, by the middle of the second decades of the 19th century the Empire obtained the satisfactory map of different Caspian littoral sectors together with the concrete General Map of the Sea performed by A.E. Kolodkin. This map being then most detailed Caspian map was either not free from misunderstandings and calamities in the less-known sectors of the Sea because of the way the investigator applied the results of his research. The blunders of Kolodkin Atlas
turned into the plot for criticism from the civil investigators together with the Naval officers who were obliged to adopt their practical activity to the wrong data of the Atlas.
Results. The research underlines the importance of the scrutinized studying of the regional issues. The works performed by the naval officers in 18th – early 19th cc. in cartography and survey of the Caspian Sea set the pattern of the Imperial influence on the region via the transit, economy and military activity in the coastal regions of it. But the core way Kolodkin compiled his Atlas in the early 19th centuary from data gained from some older maps together with shallowing of the Sea itself questioned the effective of using the map in the way the imperial authorities intended. Thus, the idea of performing new high-scale survey of the whole Caspian littoral was coming into life by the middle of 19th century.
Caucasus studies, Caspian Sea West Littoral, cartography, Navy officers, F.I. Saimonov, A.E. Kolodkin, G.S. Karelin, Sea navigation

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