DIGITAL DOCUMENTATION OF THE ISANDLWANA AND RORKE’S DRIFT BATTLEFIELD SITES USING MODERN MAPPING TECHNIQUES
Michelle Dye and Annie van de Venter-Radford
African Conservation Trust, Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu-Natal

 

Abstract
The Anglo-Zulu War was one of the great 19th century dramas that played out in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Zulu warriors armed only with spears famously took on British forces armed with the most modern firepower of the time. The Anglo-Zulu War has been the subject of numerous historical studies and the continued interest in the battles is the basis for a thriving tourism industry drawing both local and international tourists. This paper uses the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, now both protected areas jointly managed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and Amafa/Heritage KwaZulu-Natal, as case studies to show how new spatial techniques can be used to improve our understanding of these significant conflicts. A variety of techniques were used in the documentation process including geographical information systems (GIS), 3D laser scanning and 360° high resolution photography. A GIS was used to create a series of maps showing phases of the battles and also to compare historical data with current features on the battlefields. Accurate models of significant structures and their surrounding landscape were created using 3D laser scanning and terrain modelling. The enhanced visualisation helps in understanding how the complex events of these two battles unfolded. Viewsheds were generated from a digital elevation model to show what key role players could see from various locations; this is a useful tool to compare the orders a commander was given to what was actually visible from his location. The panorama images were used to produce a virtual tour of the battlefield sites. The tour allows people to move through the sites on their computer screens and it a powerful interactive tool for tourism and education. This paper has shown that modern mapping techniques can enhance our understanding of historic battles by providing new tools for historical research and promoting tourism and education through innovative displays and learning tools.It further adds a valuable tool in the management of these sites, with applications in site and feature specific management regimes and also landscape management and planning.

 

Presentation Topic
DIGITAL DOCUMENTATION OF THE ISANDLWANA AND RORKE’S DRIFT BATTLEFIELD SITES USING MODERN MAPPING TECHNIQUES
Contact Ms van de Venter-Radford:
Email Annie van de Venter-Radford