ICA Utrecht

Controlling the Waters: Seas, Lakes and Rivers on Historic Maps and Charts

Case Studies from the Lowlands, Europe and the World over the last 500 years

12 July 2019
Utrecht University Library

It is a tradition that the International Cartographic Association and the International Conference on the History of Cartography jointly organize a pre-ICHC event. For the 28th ICHC they have teamed up with the Map Collection of Utrecht University and will together host a workshop focusing on the cartography of water. See the workshop’s website https://history.icaci.org/utrecht-2019/ for more details about this event.


  • International Cartographic Association, Commission on the History of Cartography
  • Utrecht University Library, Special Collections
  • 28th International Conference on the History of Cartography


Fresh and salt waters are a key lifeline for all civilizations but at the same time can also threaten human habitats. Over the centuries, people have ventured out to navigate and explore the waters, while also putting systems in place to manage and control them. This has resulted in numerous categories of water-related maps such as portolan charts, maritime and river cartography, hydrographic surveys, VOC charts, polder maps etc. The workshop will offer a forum to discuss this rich variety in cartographic heritage.


  • Friday, 12 July 2019
  • Meeting of Map Curators will be on Saturday in Leiden
  • Sessions of the 28th ICHC will begin on Sunday in Amsterdam


  • Utrecht University
  • Utrecht Science Park (Uithof)
  • University Library, Boothzaal and Map Collection
  • By train and bus/tram about an hour from the city centre of Amsterdam


Public transport directions

There will be a Keynote Address by Prof. Dr. Bram Vannieuwenhuyze (University of Amsterdam) on the display of waterways on sixteenth century town plans of the Netherlands.

The workshop will also be complemented by a Special Map Exhibition from the map collection of the Utrecht University Library. Water management has played an integral role in the history of the Netherlands. For centuries the country has been crusading against sea and river water that threatens to flood the valuable land from all sides. This rich tradition has left a considerable legacy of early and rare cartographic publications, with the dynamics of the landscape being showcased on old maps, for instance of water control boards. The Utrecht University Library has a large collection of these early printed works, atlases and maps, which paint a telling picture of the – often difficult – relationship the Netherlands have with water. Some prime examples will be on display during the workshop.

Call for Papers

The organizers invite the submission of abstracts for oral presentations (25 minutes plus Q&A) focusing on the human interaction with water considered from a historical perspective. Abstracts of up to 400 words need to reach the organisers by 1 February 2019.

To submit an abstract please visit https://history.icaci.org/utrecht-2019-abstract-submission/.

Invitation to Attend

The workshop is open to everyone with an interest in the history of cartography but requires participants to register. Registration will be open until the available seating is allocated and will be free of charge.

To register for the workshop please visit https://history.icaci.org/utrecht-2019-registration/.


Questions regarding the workshop can be directed to:

Imre Demhardt, Chair of ICA Commission on the History of Cartography: demhardt@uta.edu

Marco van Egmond, Curator of Maps, Atlases and Printed Works at Utrecht University Library: m.vanegmond@uu.nl