Data Description Hartwell Data - Examples Hartwell Data - Downloads

Welcome to the Robert Hartwell "China Historical Studies" datasets page. From the links above, you will find details on the contents of the datasets, some examples of use, and the datasets themselves. As time allows, we will post more information regarding applications of the datasets.

Prof. Robert Hartwell passed away in 1996 and bequeathed datasets created under the auspices of his Chinese Historical Studies, to Harvard University. These materials include functional GIS datasets for the Chinese Dynasties, from Tang to Ming, which were based on the concept of "co-location," or the use of GIS representations of modern county-level administrative units as building blocks to depict the approximate shapes of historical areas.

Making use of county boundary data for 1992, obtained from Crissman's ACASIAN, Hartwell represented historical units that occupied roughly the same areas by merging or splitting the 1992 counties. Where the contemporary boundaries could not be "co-located" in this fashion, Hartwell drew in approximate line boundaries to divide the contemporary units to fit the historical situations and therefore provide an approximation of the historical unit's area. Although the resulting boundaries are, in many cases, problematic representations, the GIS remains an interesting hueristic GIS tool for sorting, querying, and creating digital maps for selected areas within the major dynasties up to the Ming.

Harvard University released the Hartwell datasets on April 2nd, 2001, in conjunction with the CHGIS project, as a useful means of generating approximate spatial entities correlating to historical administrative units.

The CHGIS project will save a tremendous amount of time by having the Hartwell GIS as a point of comparison as new datasets are compiled. However, the CHGIS is not actually an extension or revision of Hartwell's work, but rather a completely new historical spatial data project based on new scholarly research at Fudan's CHG. Whereas the Hartwell GIS utilized co-location of contemporary county level units backwards in time, the CHGIS will only do so where there exists solid historical evidence to support the match, and will focus on building up historical units from subordinate locations as points when the evidence is not strong enough to make use of co-location. In this way, the CHGIS will resist the temptation of demarcating concrete boundaries for historical areas where the records are only fuzzy at best, and leaves the interpretation of the position of such boundaries to the user, who is free to add their own fields and annotations to the CHGIS platform datasets.

See also Peter K. Bol's Intro to the Hartwell GIS (WORD format)

Please note: the DOWNLOADS link will take you to the End User License Agreement page, which must be filled out and agreed to before downloading the datasets. These datasets are freely available for academic research purposes only, under licensing agreements with
Center for Historical Geography, Fudan University
ACASIAN, Griffith University

Your questions and comments are welcomed. Please contact us at the email address below.

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