Today you can find many different Internet sites with ancient maps of the territory of Ukraine from ancient times. The copies of such maps created by famous Dutch, French, German geographers, cartographers, engravers and publishers – Claudius Ptolemy, Abraham Ortelius, Guillaume de Beauplan, Frederick de Witt, Jan Jansson, Johann-Baptist Homann, Willem Gondius, Pieter van den Keere, issued till XVIII century can be observed at various thematic exhibitions.
Modern researchers of the history of the territory of Ukraine mapping often dedicate their scientific works to maps and descriptions of its land part or to nautical charts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, known as portolans, disregarding the inland watercourses. But the former names of our rivers – Borisphen (Dnipro), Istr (Danube), Tiras (Dniester) – are mentioned as early as in ancient sources, the works of Herodotus, Strabo, Pliny the Elder, other thinkers of the day, which indicates that these were large full-flowing rivers, whose role in the development of international relations of our ancient state was enormous: Borisphen was an important part of the historical route from the Varangians to the Greeks.
Since the State Hydrographic Service of Ukraine provides hydrographic and oceanographic study both of the seas and inland waterways of Ukraine, creates nautical and river, paper and electronic navigational charts, guides and sailing directions, the historical survey of cartographic works created in the recent past should turn attention to the materials of hydrographic researches and charting of navigable rivers, which played an important role in the transport connection during the last three centuries.
At the beginning of XIX century specialists of the Fifth (Kyiv) District of Communication Lines began to study the hydrographic network of the rivers Dnipro, Sozh, Desna, Dniester in order to improve their navigation conditions. The charts, in addition to the shoreline, depths on the existing fairway, underwater obstructions, settlements, showed water levels (spring high water level, normal low water level etc.), sections of sandbars, banks as well as the designed fairway and planned construction sites for hydraulic structures (plans and profiles of dams and pyramids on them), later – water gauges, legends of piers and shallows, places of bank protection, drainage cuts to support navigation and drainage cuts for correctional works. Large-scale channel improvement works on the Dnipro near Kyiv began in the mid-nineteenth century, but general public knows very little about it.