Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian EmpireMain MenuAboutDashboardsData CatalogMapStoriesGalleriesGamesWho said history was boring?Map ShelfTeach Our ContentCiting the ProjectKelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f5The Imperiia Project // Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
locator map note
12020-08-18T13:32:02-04:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f594usage noteplain2020-09-14T23:11:18-04:00Kelly O'Neilldc20b45f1d74122ba0d654d19961d826c5a557f5The placemarks on this map show the location(s) of provincial towns (administrative seats). Showing the city of Moscow on a map is not at all the same thing as showing you the boundaries of Moscow province. Here we are simply using Google Maps to help you put location in rough perspective.
The coordinates are all drawn from GeoNames.org. They describe the centroid of the space of the current (modern) town location and therefore need to be taken with a grain of salt in terms of their accuracy as markers of historical places.
This page is referenced by:
12020-08-17T01:43:43-04:00forests24playing card taggoogle_maps2022-05-18T03:39:25-04:00What does the map above tell you?
The cards speak not of forests, but of "bountiful forests."
Chukotka/Kamchatka and the lands of the Black Sea Cossack Host are some 4,000 miles apart. But they share two common geographical features: forests (of course) and... can you figure out the other?
12020-08-17T01:44:04-04:00swamps17playing card taggoogle_maps2020-09-25T11:08:44-04:00What does the map above tell you? Ah, swamps. Everyone's favorite topic. The cards make note of their presence, and often specify "a significant quantity," but otherwise we are left to imagine what they looked and smelled like, and whether they were seen as resources or obstacles. (And we ought to fess up: we have translated болота (bolota) as "swamp" but it can also be translated as "marsh," which is considerably less dramatic-sounding.)
Swamps and marshes were common elements of the imperial landscape. While most maps you encounter do not bother to show them, they do play a prominent role on the maps of Siberia made by Semyon Remezov in 1696. Remezov produced 150 river maps (plus a great many others) for something he called the Chorographic Sketchbook. (Think of it as a manuscript atlas of Siberia.) The maps tell extraordinary stories about Siberia and contain some 9,000 pieces of information about what was where at the turn of the 18th century. On Remezov's maps, swamps/marshes look like this:
There are 295 swamps - or, to be more accurate, swampy/marshy areas - in the Sketchbook. Ready for your challenge? Try finding the swamps shown on the map below, which shows a segment of the Vagay River. And perhaps, if you can find them, you might try your hand at identifying some of the other geographic features of the map.
(Tip: Toggle off the side panel to see the map a bit better.)
12020-08-17T01:34:17-04:00lakes14playing card taggoogle_maps2020-09-14T23:37:05-04:00What does the map above tell you?
Lakes were a prominent - almost ubiquitous - element of the empire's geography. Along with rivers, they are among the few features included on the small map insets on the cards. We only attached the "lakes" tag in cases where they were specifically mentioned on the cards. (Salt lakes are treated separately.)
There is only so much you can learn about Russia's lakes from a set of playing cards. That said, they do include nuggets of information here and there. We learn, for example, that Novgorod Province has 3,220 lakes, and Lifliand has 1,000.
The combination of lakes and mountains often makes for astonishing scenery. How many provinces of the Russian Empire offered both?
12020-08-17T01:43:53-04:00mountains13playing card taggoogle_maps2020-09-15T00:00:35-04:00What does the map above tell you?
Mountains are not the signature feature of the Russian landscape. However. If when we say "Russian" we have the entire empire in mind (as we almost always do at Imperiia) rather than something more like the Russian Federation... it is a different story. Several remarkable ranges - wholly or in part - fell within the boundaries of the empire, including the Carpathians, the Caucasus, and the Eastern Range of Kamchatka (home to the highest volcanic peak in the northern hemisphere).
Charmingly (or comically, depending on your mood), the playing cards also make note of a number of... eh-hem... glorified hills. It won't take too much sleuthing to distinguish one kind of "mountainous" province from the other. Try resting your cursor on the "Map" button above (next to "Satellite" and toggling on "Terrain". Zooming will be a much more productive experience. Or, try inspecting the pictures of the mountains and ridges in the playing cards listed here. You might come close to being able to arrange them in order of least grand to grand!
12020-08-17T01:44:48-04:00salt lakes10playing card taggoogle_maps2020-09-15T00:33:09-04:00What does the map above tell you?
12020-08-17T01:44:12-04:00islands7playing card taggoogle_maps2020-09-15T00:24:28-04:00What does the map above tell you? next
12020-08-17T18:11:15-04:00curative mud baths3playing card taggoogle_maps2020-08-18T13:45:35-04:00[What does the map above tell you?]