The depiction of soil profiles since the late 1700s

A.E. Hartemink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Artists have depicted soils in paintings since medieval times, and most landscape and soil paintings were made in the eighteenth century. The systematic study of soils started later and soil science was dominated by agricultural chemistry for most of the nineteenth century. Since the late 1800s soil profile drawings, paintings and photographs have been depicted in hundreds of textbooks. This paper traces the depiction of soil profiles in the scientific literature from the late 1700. The first soil profile depictions were simple diagrams illustrating different layers and soil processes. Photographs started to appear in textbooks at the end of the nineteenth century. In the 1950s, several books contained water paintings and from the 1970s onwards textbooks had colour photographs. Soil profile depictions were merely used to illustrate different orders in a classification system. Since the 1990s, efforts have been made to depict the soil profile in 3D. The overall trends and pattern found in this analysis not only reflect the technical ability to depict soils (e.g. camera, printing techniques) but also reflect the state of knowledge on the key properties and processes that have formed a soil
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-127
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • historical development
  • science literature
  • united-states
  • 3d
  • cartography
  • framework
  • horizons
  • pedology
  • genesis
  • world


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