The Volga was known to the Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy (2nd century AD), to the Slavs, and to the Arab geographers of the 10th and 11th centuries. Information on it is contained in the Kniga bolshomu chertyozhu (1627; "Book of the Great Chart") and in a hydrographic description of1636.
Its flow was first measured below Kamyshin by the Englishman John Perry in 1700.
Two pioneer Russian navigators, Makeyev and Gavril Andreyevich Sarychev, surveyed the stretch between Tver and Nizhny Novgorod in 1782-83; in 1809-17 and 1829 the Maritime Bureau surveyed the delta and measured its depth; and from 1875 to 1894 the river was investigated from the Rybinsk to the Volga mouth.
Investigations of the upper Volga were made from 1896 to 1901, and in 1894 the upper reaches of the Volga, Oka, Syzran, and other rivers were also examined. Many institutes carried out hydrographic and hydrometric research during and after the Soviet period; and more than 500 points have been established to monitor the water levels of the Volga.