(National Service for Archaeology, The Netherlands)
The Dutch mapmakers of the 16th and 17th century were famous for their accurate and highly detailed maps. Several atlases were produced and the pride and joy of many a captain, whether Dutch, English, French, fighting or merchant navy.
For modern eyes, these maps often seem warped and inaccurate; besides, in those times it still was impossible to accurately determine ones longitude, so how could these maps be accurate at all?
But since these maps were actually used to navigate on, and (most of) the ships actually made it to their destination and back, the information on the maps should have been accurate enough.
Using old navigational techniques and principles it is possible to place these maps, and the wealth of information depicted on them, in a modern GIS. That way these old basic-data not only provides us with an insight in the development of our rich maritime landscape over the centuries, but also gives an almost personal insight in the mind of the captains using them and the command structure of the fleets dominating the high seas.
Keywords: historic Dutch maritime maps, georeferencing historic data, maritime archaeology