GeoCarta Has Moved

Feb 10, 2007

Ancient Holy Land Maps Posted Online

More than 250 rare maps and antique prints of Jerusalem and the surrounding area have been posted online. The impressive collection, which dates to 1462, was assembled by Eran Laor, and donated to the Jewish National and University Library in 1975. The library has posted high resolutions images on its website enabling study by anyone.

Most of the early maps are oriented to the east, reflecting the view point of European mapmakers looking in the direction of the Holy Land. It wasn't until the Renaissance that cartographers began drawing maps oriented to the north. Reviewing the collection, one can see a change toward the end of the 18th century as maps began replacing pictorial elements with symbols and legends.

The introduction of surveying at the beginning of the 19th century produced much more accurate maps of the area. Jacotin, a cartographer who accompanied Napoleon on his journey to Egypt and Palestine, was the first to produce maps based upon scientific measurements. Other notable cartographers of the era whose maps are included in the exhibit include Robinson, Kiepert and Van de Velde.

Posting the maps online is part of the David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project at the Hebrew University. The site is easily navigable and provides several different search criteria, as well as options for viewing high or low resolution images. It should be an invaluable asset to researchers, or anyone who appreciates ancient maps.

Some information for this post from an article in the Jerasulem Post.
You can view the maps here.