Investigation Work for Nomination

During 1993/94 the first attempts were done to draw the international attention on the preservation of the remaining stations of the Struve Geodetic Arc. A Scientific Conference in Tartu underlined the importance to take all possible steps to preserve the relics [IIHS&M, 2002]. The boundaries have had major changes since this time. Many points were for long time on the area of the Soviet Union and only since recently in ten different countries, namely Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Also the aim of suggesting the Struve Arc to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List has grown since. Later the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the International Association for Geodesy (AIG) also expressed their support. The details of this project were discussed at a conference held in Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Struve Geodetic Arc in 1993. Surveyors of eight participating countries joined. It was decided that there should be 1-2 delegates from every country, like representatives of the national survey agencies, to form the committee. The coordinating role was given to the National Land Survey of Finland and the status as project managers to Jarmo Ratia and Pekka Tätilä [Nomination, 2004].
For the nomination paper, available information, survey documents and literature have then been gathered in an extensive process during 9 years. Due to the incidents at the Observatory, the original books written by Struve in 1860 are not available in large quantities and not every participating country owns a copy. Fortunately one copy of the volumes was presented to the ETH by Johannes Wild, professor of Topography and Geodesy at the ETH in 1855-1889 and can be consulted at the HDB-library at the ETH Hönggerberg.
The original measured data was used to re-calculate the coordinates of the survey stations in the Bessel ellipsoid. To transform a group of coordinates into another reference system at least three points need to be known in the new system, because the mathematical relation between the Bessel- and WGS84-system is not known exactly. Several national survey agencies still use stations of the Struve Arc in the national survey network. From the therefore known coordinates in the modern WGS84-system, a first transformation could be calculated to receive WGS84-coordinates for the whole chain.
The committee decided to choose 1-6 stations in each country which would be suitable for a nomination. The requirements on these points were that they are within reachable distance for tourists, prevented from destruction and possibly evenly spread over the area of the country.

Nomination Paper and Decision

In January 2004, the final paper “Nomination of the Struve Geodetic Arc for inscription on the World Heritage List” [Nomination, 2004] with the request to include the Struve Geodetic Arc on the World Heritage List was submitted to the UNESCO committee. The document includes about 200 pages with the description of the historic work, the coordinates of all points, the planned management of the preservation of the remaining stations and several photos and maps of different points. The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) then evaluated the nomination paper, visited the sites and attended a conference on the “Future of the StruGeodetic Arc”. It finally recommended the World Heritage Committee to inscribe the Struve Arc on the World Heritage List [ICOMOS, 2005].
On 15 July 2005, the World Heritage Committee announced the declaration of the Struve Arc as World Heritage Monument. The Struve Arc is the first monument on the list with an important scientific background in astronomy, geodesy, navigation and mapping and represents more a remnant of a technical instrument than a cultural heritage. Thus, the inscription is considered a success.
According to the criteria of the UNESCO, the Struve Arc meets the following points [UNESCO, 2005]:

  • Criterion (ii): The first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian, helping in the establishment of the exact size and shape of the world exhibits an important step in the development of earth sciences. It is also an extraordinary example for interchange of human values in the form of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries. It is at the same time an example for collaboration between monarchs of different powers, for a scientific cause.
  • Criterion (iv): The Struve Geodetic Arc is undoubtedly an outstanding example of technological ensemble – presenting the triangulation points of the measuring of the meridian, being the non movable and non tangible part of the measuring technology.
  • Criterion (vi): The measuring of the arc and its results are directly associated with men wondering about his world, its shape and size. It is linked with Sir Isaac Newton's theory that the world is not an exact sphere.

The included list contains 34 stations of the Struve Arc from all ten countries: Norway (4), Sweden (4), Finland (6), Russia (2), Estonia (3), Latvia (2), Lithuania (3), Belarus (5), Ukraine (4), and Moldova (1).

Progress since Nomination

The management of the committee receives an annual report of every country about their progress in the research for further points and the preservation of the discovered ones. Initially, a meeting of the committee was held every year but was been decided that the meeting should be held only every two years because of the big effort to arrange a visa for some countries. The next meeting will be held in August 2008 in Jacobstadt, Latvia.
Since the Struve Arc has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the research process to find more points has continued in many countries. They increased the attractiveness of the stations by rising monuments. To arouse the popularity of the Struve Arc, approaches have been undertaken to create remembrances. Belarus fabricated a coin showing the Struve Arc and a booklet featuring a stamp collection. Estonia already owns a stamp of the Tartu Observatory and published booklets about the triangulation chain in the country. Finland also publicise brochures about the arc and for every station on the UNESCO List. Latvia created a stamp displaying central marks of stations.

Resolutions of Conferences and Coordinating Committee Meetings (Get a list by pressing "Files" below)

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License