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The World War I Tactical Maps of the Italian Army: Proposals for a Typological Classification, an Interpretation of Symbols and a Digital Analysis of the Cartographies in the Historical Archive of the Third Army

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Part of the Advances in Military Geosciences book series (AMG)

Abstract

Innovations in military operations during the First World War have been widely documented by international historiography. The necessities of trench warfare and their consequences in the production of military maps, however, still require in-depth study. Accordingly, this paper addresses military maps preserved in the Historical Archives of the Italian Third Army in Padua, Italy. The Third Army had a crucial role in the conflict, as it settled along the Piave River after the Retreat of Caporetto and later led the final advance toward Istria. We focus on tactical maps, i.e., maps that were continuously updated during battle, to show the evolution of frontline positions and activities. The analysis of this map collection opens a new research path for interpreting map symbols and typological classification categories depicted on military maps. Major attention has been paid to the Italian Istituto Geografico Militare printed maps that were continuously updated by hand on the battlefield during military operations. First, the map corpus is described; second, a typological classification and semiotic decoding (based on interpretation of the map symbols) is carried out; and finally, a digital analysis using georeferencing and data vectorization of troop movements and battlefield dynamics is presented.

Keywords

  • Military cartography
  • First World War
  • Historical geography
  • Historical GIS
  • Tactical maps
  • History of cartography

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-79260-2_8
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Acknowledgments

The paper has been developed with common research by the three authors. However, E. Dai Prà is the main author of Sections 1, 2, and 7; N. Gabellieri, of Sections 3 and 6; and M. Boschian Bailo, of Sections 4 and 5. The authors gratefully thank the referees for their constructive recommendations which improved the readability and quality of the paper, as well as the Director of the Historical Museum of the Third Army of Padua for copyright permission to publish reproductions of historical maps.

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Correspondence to Nicola Gabellieri .

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Prà, E.D., Gabellieri, N., Bailo, M.B. (2022). The World War I Tactical Maps of the Italian Army: Proposals for a Typological Classification, an Interpretation of Symbols and a Digital Analysis of the Cartographies in the Historical Archive of the Third Army. In: Bondesan, A., Ehlen, J. (eds) Military Geoscience: A Multifaceted Approach to the Study of Warfare. Advances in Military Geosciences. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-79260-2_8

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