The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Orchard Locator

Ready to turn the clock back to the early nineteenth century?

"Gardens of Crimea" highlights the 809 orchards registered as state properties in the early years of Russian imperial rule. The registers associate each orchard plot with one of eighty-nine villages, but for thirty we have data identifying tree quantities and types. Those thirty villages are highlighted in this project. 

In 1817 a cartographer named Semyon Mukhin working for the Military Topographical Depot of the Russian General Staff produced a ground-breaking topographical survey map of Crimea.
Mukhin published his map twenty-four years after the compilation of the garden registers - that is a meaningful amount of time in which all sorts of things changed. Wars, droughts, earthquakes, tragedies and triumphs of all kinds. Nevertheless, this is the first map produced at a scale that allows us a detailed look at the peninsula's topography. It allows us to see each village in its historical context. For example, here is the famous Baydar Valley.
The southern coast of Crimea runs along the bottom of the map detail. Balaklava is shown on the coast near the western edge. The Crimean mountains are depicted as a ridge line running west to east along the bottom. Areas rendered dark by hachures (lines representing elevation change) are set off from bright areas, some of which are at higher altitude (such as the alpine plateau at lower right) and some of which are low, such as the Baydar Valley at the center. The map describes the valley as partially forested, crossed by streams, and with a road running through the center.

Now for a bit of magic. What if you could see the same map, rendered in English instead of Russian?

This is Thomas Best Jervis' 1855 edition of the same map. (How Mukhin's high-end military-topographical survey of Crimea ended up in British hands on the eve of the Crimean War is a story for another day.) You can see that the cartography and data are more or less unchanged. The 1855 English edition still claims, for example, that there were 80 households in the village of Baydar.

Let's use this later edition to orient ourselves to the space described in the registers. Move your cursor across the image to see the orchard locations. The villages are listed below as "tagged" pages - go to any location page by clicking the placename.

Curious about the broader geography of fruit cultivation? Check out this interactive map! 

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