Jerusalem in Maps
Jerusalem, the holy city of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, has been the focus of study and interest for centuries. Before the invention of print, maps were drawn on parchment, usually as part of a Bible or holy book. Other maps were drawn on walls or created as floor mosaics. The first printed map of Jerusalem appeared in the late fifteenth century, and maps of Jerusalem have subsequently appeared in many books and publications throughout the world.
Most ancient maps of Jerusalem were not created to guide people on their travels like modern maps. Rather, they were intended to tell a story or to convey ideas or information about the Holy City. European Christians had close ties to Jerusalem during the Middle Ages and later centuries. However, the pilgrimage to Jerusalem was difficult, expensive and dangerous, and a map which presented the holy sites to the believers was seen as a substitute to the actual journey. These maps were often produced by Christian scholars, most of whom hadn't actually been to Jerusalem, and as a result, the Jerusalem of the ancient maps actually looks more like London, Paris, Amsterdam or other European cities. The impressions portrayed in the maps of Jerusalem existed in the hearts and minds of the European Christian mapmakers and readers rather than describing the city as it really was.
Until the early nineteenth century, maps of Jerusalem tended to be artistic drawings of landscapes, without measurements, scale or accurate perspective. Scenes and locations from different historical periods were depicted side by side, combining the representation of real locations with the biblical concepts associated with them. From the beginning of the nineteenth century, maps began to be based on accurate surveys, and the information about the city was much closer to reality.
The Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, National Library of Israel
The National Library of Israel has one of the largest collections of ancient maps, atlases and travel books of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. The heart of the collection includes 1500 ancient maps of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, alongside ancient maps of other parts of the world. The collection also includes surveyor maps of Eretz Israel, beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, as well as modern maps of Israel, cities in Israel, and neighboring countries prior to the establishment of the State and up to today.
Most of the map collection is available in the digitized catalogue (mostly in Hebrew) and on the different map websites:
JERUSALEM IN MAPS - ACTIVITY
Have you ever wondered what Jerusalem looked like in the Middle Ages? Or how people imagined Jerusalem looked?
With the large collection of ancient maps of Jerusalem in the digital library of the National Library of Israel, you'll be able to answer these questions and to explore Jerusalem and the people of the past who studied the Holy City.
How to Find a Map
The National Library of Israel provides access to its large collection of ancient maps of Jerusalem on the following website - http://www.jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/maps/jer/
You can search for maps according to:
Names of people who created the maps:
Dates when the maps were created:
Browse through the collection of maps and choose any interesting or beautiful map that catches your eye.
Exploring the Map
Look at the map, paying attention to:
To explore the map systematically, follow the steps of the Primary Source Analysis Worksheet.