Moldova in eastern Europe is one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week, so why not spend a few minutes today learning about one of Moldova’s World Heritage Sites: the Struve Geodetic Arc (which traverses Moldova and several other European countries as well).
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey points more than 1700 miles long that helped to establish the exact dimensions of the earth:
The determination of the size and shape of the world was one of the most important problems of natural philosophy since at least the 4th century B.C. The development, in the 16th century, of a measurement system called “triangulation” improved the ability to determine the size and shape of the world. In this system, long chains of triangles were measured, creating arcs that stretched along hundreds and thousands of kilometres.
The Struve Geodetic Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through ten countries and over 2,820 km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by several scientists (surveyors) under leadership of the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped to establish the exact size and shape of our planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of the development of sciences and of collaboration among scientists from different countries, as well as monarchs, for a common scientific cause.
Prior to the Struve Geodetic Arc, an arc of about 2,400 km had been measured in India by Lambton and Everest (completed in 1845), and a shorter arc in Lithuania by Carl Tenner. Struve, who was working at the Dorpat University (currently University of Tartu in Estonia), decided that he would establish an arc following a line of longitude (meridian) passing through the observatory of the university. The new long arc, later to be known as the Struve Geodetic Arc, was eventually created by connecting earlier, shorter arcs to the southern one measured by Tenner, and their extension to the north and south. The arc thus covered a line connecting Fuglenæs, near Hammerfest at the Arctic Ocean, with Staro-Nekrassowka, near Ismail, on the Black Sea shores, along more than 2,800 km. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The inscribed property includes 34 of the original station points established by Struve and his colleagues between 1816 and 1851 – four points in Norway, four in Sweden, six in Finland, two in Russia, three in Estonia, two in Latvia, three in Lithuania, five in Belarus, one in Moldova and four in Ukraine. Other preserved sites of the Arc are protected nationally.
These marks take different forms: small holes drilled in rock surfaces, and sometimes filled with lead; cross-shaped engraved marks on rock surfaces; solid stone or brick with a marker inset; rock structures (cairns) with a central stone or brick marked by a drilled hole; individual bricks; as well as especially constructed ‘monuments’ to commemorate the point and the arc.
The Struve Geodetic Arc is an extraordinary example of the interchange of human values in the form of international scientific collaboration, as well as an outstanding example of a technological ensemble. (World Heritage Centre #1187)
You can find a gallery of additional photos of the Struve Geodetic Arc on the World Heritage Centre’s website.
World Heritage Sites are cultural or natural landmarks of international significance, selected by their home countries and recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. More than 1000 such sites have been designated in over 160 countries, and we feature one every Wednesday, drawn from one of our homeschool countries-of-the-week. You can find a complete list of World Heritage Sites online at the World Heritage Centre and in Wikipedia.
The World Heritage Centre also has a free and comprehensive World Heritage education kit for teachers, as well as a wonderful full-color wall map of World Heritage Sites, available for the cost of shipping. Why not add them both to your own homeschool library. 🗺
What world treasures will you be exploring in your homeschool this Leo Term? 😊
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Homeschool Geography posts featuring cultural and natural sites of international importance. Download a copy of our River Houses World Heritage Calendar and follow along with us as we tour the planet, and add your name to our weekly mailing list to get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 🌎 🌍 🌏
❡ This is a printable lesson: Down at the bottom of this post you’ll find a custom “Print” button and icon, along with several social-media share buttons. The Print button will let you create a neat and easy-to-read copy of this little lesson, and it will even let you resize or delete elements that you may not want or need (such as images or footnotes). Give it a try today! 🖨
❡ Books in the running brooks: You can always turn to your River Houses almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia for more information about any of our countries-of-the-week. The almanac has profiles of all the nations of the world on pages 752–859; the endpapers of the atlas are indexes that will show you where all of the individual national and regional maps may be found; the history encyclopedia includes national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes. For an ideal little lesson, just write the name of the Weekly World Heritage Site on your homeschool bulletin board, find its location in your atlas, read the WHC’s brief description aloud, look at a picture or two, and you’re done. Over the course of the year, without even realizing it, your students will absorb a wealth of new historical, geographical, and cultural information. 🇲🇩
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