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0012 Innermost Asia : vol.1
Innermost Asia : vol.1 / Page 12 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000187
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Help of Survey of India.

Support of R. Geographical Society.

Interrelation of geographical and historical interest.

Record of topographical work.


the Museum of Indian Ethnography, Art, and Archaeology which it was designed to instal at New Delhi would be the first to benefit by prospective ` finds '. Thus by the close of July 1913 I was free to set out from Kashmir for another long journey.

For the geographical investigations which were intended to play a large and important part in my travels, most effective help from the Survey of India was assured to me from the outset. Colonel Sir SIDNEY BURRARD, then Surveyor-General of India, very readily extended to this part of my programme the same unfailing aid and encouragement by which my previous topographical surveys and their publication had benefited so greatly. He kindly agreed to depute to assist me my old experienced travel companion Rai Bahâ.dur Lai Singh, Sub-Assistant Superintendent, Survey of India, and also to make available the services of a second Surveyor of the Department. Apart from a special grant to cover the expenses connected with the employment of these surveyors, the Survey of India also provided all requisite surveying equipment, including that to be used by myself and a third assistant, Miân Afraz-gul Khan, whose valuable help will be presently noted.

In connexion with the wide extension of our topographical labours which was thus rendered possible, I must record also my very grateful appreciation of the moral support which the Royal Geographical Society generously gave me, in addition to granting the loan of some surveying instruments. From the constant sympathy and friendly interest with which Sir JOHN KELTIE, the Society's lamented Secretary, ever followed my efforts, I never ceased to derive true encouragement.

In devoting so large a share of my care and attention to work of direct geographical interest I was guided by two important considerations. On the one hand my explorations were taking me through portions of innermost Asia where extensive areas, both in the barren mountains and in the desert wastes of the great drainageless basins, were still in need of systematic survey or practically unmapped. • On the other hand these very regions, though in some respects deserving to be counted among the least attractive portions of our globe, are, when studied on the ground with an eye to their past, singularly fitted to illustrate the close interrelation between physical features and human activity, as reflected by history and archaeological relics. In my lecture on ` Innermost Asia : its Geography as a factor in History ',2 I have fully discussed the reasons which make it particularly important for the historical and antiquarian student of that great region of Asia to pay the closest attention to its peculiar geographical features. I have shown in the same lecture how helpful for the investigation of much-discussed physical changes may be the study on sound critical lines of the traces which the human past, whether of historical or prehistoric periods, has left on such ground.

The important bearing here briefly indicated which the exact record of topographical facts must have upon archaeological research in this region will explain the special value that I attach to the generous help of the Survey of India, since it has made it possible to issue with the present publication the atlas of detailed maps forming Vol. IV. These 47 map sheets on the scale of I : 500,000 have been prepared at the Trigonometrical Survey Office, Dehra Dun. They embody the carefully compiled results of all the surveys made on my three Central-Asian expeditions. These surveys comprised throughout continuous plane-table work by my assistants and myself, and, where conditions would permit, triangulation and astronomical observations. How great were the labours in the field involved by these systematic surveys is sufficiently indicated by the fact that they extended over no less than 28 degrees of longitude and 8 degrees of latitude. The appearance within the limits of these maps of unsurveyed and in many cases wholly unexplored areas is to be attributed to the exceptional physical difficulties of penetrating the vast forbidding deserts and the lofty and almost equally desolate mountains that constitute the major portion of this ground.

2 See Geographical Journal, 1925, lxv. May—June, pp. 377-403, 473-98.