Monthly Archives: April 2010

From Archive to Map to Landscape

In order to help students of the Sea Island Fieldschool this summer think about the history of the South Carolina coastal landscape I used archival material and current satellite imagery for a simple demo to visualize historical traces in the landscape today.

The introduction of rice farming had an enormous impact on the South Carolina coastal landscape, firstly because it required mass draining and clearing of swamps, and secondly because an elaborated canal system needed to be put in place to ensure proper flooding and draining of the fields. Not only is it possible to see the remnants of canals and dams from those rice fields today, but it is also possible to trace those back to plans that were surveyed centuries ago.

For this demo I used Google Earth imagery from 2005 and a 1793 plat from the McCrady collection. I simply outlined the individual fields as they were shown on the historical plan.

This demo is a rough and simple, (non-georeferenced) overlay of a subsection of the plat, the outline of the canals and dams, and Google Earth imagery, which I added together in Keynote with the transitions and then exported as Quicktime. This particular location is a few miles south of Georgetown, SC.

Not that this has not been researched before, but it is stunning nevertheless to see how the traces of this humongous amount of enslaved Africans' labor from hundreds of years ago has left its traces on Google Earth.

Old Rice Fields