Rubin, Rehav: Image and Reality: Jerusalem in Maps and Views. Jerusalem 1999.
It was only natural that the Holy Land, with all its historic and religious connotation, earned a large number of descriptions by people who lived in it, by visitors and even by people whose description derived from reading, learning or only pure imagination. Many of these pilgrims and travelers, who came to the country and its sacred sites, left written descriptions, which to this very days still offer valuable material for the study of the country, its history, as well as its physical, historical, and human geographies, during various historical periods.
The maps, as well as the two and even three-dimensional depictions, are an unseparated part of these descriptions. In the second half of the nineteenth century, the Swiss physician Titus Tobler and the Berliner scholar Reinhold Röhricht compiled the most important and thorough bibliographies of 'Palestine Literature'; they both included special paragraphs to the maps of the Holy Land.1) While realizing the importance of the maps - most of them formerly unknown - to various aspects of the study of the country, the latter contributed a list of articles in the Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästina Vereins, the periodical of the German Association for the Study of Palestine. In these articles he presented and analyzed many maps of the Holy Land in the middle- and the late middle ages2). The double value of the maps as scientific and as artistic documents, led to the development of collections of 'Maps of the Holy Land', and this brought the publication of some of them. Some of these publications include not only a coloured presentation of maps, but also general discussions and details regarding the mapmakers.3)
Jerusalem, with its singular status as the sacred city for the three monotheistic religions - and therefore undoubtedly the most important place within the Holy Land - earned also an impressive amount of maps, already from early periods, i.e. the Roman and the Byzantine, until these very days. This status led in different periods to special perceptions of the city, as navel of the world, or as a heavenly-spiritual site.
Taking all this into account, one should wonder why there was no thorough systematic study of the early maps, neither of the whole country, nor of Jerusalem. Some maps, such
as the famous 6th century mosaic map found in Madaba
(Jordan), which is the earliest detailed map of Jerusalem, did attract the attention of scholars. Others were studied as part of larger geographic-historical researches, but an organized picture was still missing.
This outstanding lacuna, at least as for the maps of Jerusalem, is now filled with the publishing of REHAV RUBIN's book. RUBIN, a historical-geographer of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, dedicated the last fifteen years to a systematic study of this theme. During these years he published a long list of papers, dealing with single maps, groups of maps, and geneology of maps. In 1987 he published a book in Hebrew, titled Jerusalem in Maps and Views. The English book is a compilation of all these studies, and includes a summary of RUBIN's researches and knowledge.
As mentioned above, the artistic value of the maps gives any publication dealing with them the characteristic of an album. RUBIN includes in his book 109(!) 'Maps and Figures', all of them in the original colouring. In his preface he expresses his thanks to a long list of private collectors and curators of public collections, for their permission to photograph
and reproduce the maps. Many of them are quite rare and valuable, and can be found in The United States, Europe and Israel. None of these stands for itself - they are all used as explanations and illuminations to the text. This, I would say, is one of RUBIN's important renovations - instead of a book of maps with added text, he presents here a scientific publication in which the maps accompany and illuminate the text.
The book does not pretend to be a bibliography of the maps of the Holy City, nor a detailed study that analyzes every single map. Instead, RUBIN chose to present varied, but representative groups of maps of Jerusalem. Naturally, he needed also to define the time limits: beginning in the sixth century, and ending in the nineteenth, with the first steps of modern cartography of the city.
The introduction to such a book has almost only the
single purpose to determine the uniqueness of the maps of Jerusalem:
"Most of the maps of Jerusalem are not created to fill the utilitarian purposes of modern maps. They were not drawn to help travelers find their way; some of them do not even depict the city as it existed. They served as medium of conveying information, a viewpoint, and a concept."
The title chosen for the book, Image and Reality, presents not only one of the possible divisions for the maps of Jerusalem, but also another important phenomena in many of them. Due to the special place of Jerusalem in Christianity, many of the maps contain a mixture of realistic depictions of sites in terrestrial Jerusalem - including impressions, perceptions and beliefs of the mapmakers. Another possible division is between historical maps, those that depict Jerusalem in earlier periods, and contemporary maps, those that describe the city at the time they were drawn. Following the examples in the book, one can see a mixture of these divisions: imaginary historical and contemporary maps, as well as realistic maps of both sorts.
The first chapter is dedicated to manuscript maps, originated during the period prior to the invention of the printing. It is chronologically divided into the following periods: Byzantine (324-638), Early Islamic (638-1099), Crusader (1099-1187), and Later Medieval (thirteenth to fifteenth centuries). The first period is represented by three mosaic depictions. The Madaba map is the outstanding one of them. There are only a few maps of Jerusalem from the Early Islamic period, but the city continued to play an important role in world cartography, and moved into the center of the world in the famous T-O maps. The ninety years of Christian occupation, following the recapturing of the city by the Crusaders, brought a wealth of maps. About a dozen of them are known today and usually identified after the place where the manuscript is kept. Most of the maps are round, depicting the walls, main streets, as well as the sacred sites, within the city walls and outside them. The maps of the following centuries, such as the one drawn by the Venetian PIETRO VESCONTE for MARINO SANUDO's book, which was aimed at encouraging the Christians to renew the crusades, are in some way a continuation of them.
The second half of the Fifteenth century, as well as the first half of the Sixteenth - the era of technological revolutions, of the great explorations and of the intensive religious separation in Europe - saw also a growing interest in the scriptures and in pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Many of the printed books - Bibles, Exegeses, pilgrim's descriptions - often contained illustration, including maps. As a result, many of the maps were aimed to illustrate the mapmaker's concept of Jerusalem in old times (Biblical, Jesus). Accordingly they should be looked at as a piece of art. Before approaching the maps themselves, RUBIN discusses three major research problems: the identification of the maps and the mapmakers, the dating criteria, and the classification and typology.
About 300 of the today known maps of Jerusalem were drawn between the end of the Fifteenth Century and the beginning of the Nineteenth. The only way to handle them scientifically is by finding a way to classify them into groups. A cartographic classification takes into account the orientation and perspective of the map. They can also be classified after the regional / national origins of the mapmakers, or after their schools. The third classification is the one mentioned above, to historical-imaginary and contemporary maps.
In his works RUBIN developed a fourth classification, for which he proposes the name 'Carto-Geneology': the identification of an original map, together with the copies based on it, lead to the possibility of establishing some 'generations'. This classification stands at the base of the 'heavier' chapters in the book. The third chapter deals with realistic maps of contemporary Jerusalem, and the fourth with imaginary maps of the ancient city. We would suffice ourselves here with mentioning the 'families' in both groups:
In the realistic map: The maps following BERNHARD VON BREYDENBACH's (1486) and MATHIAS MERIAN's (1645), which was based on the former and started a group by itself; the maps following HERMANUS BROCULUS' (1538); the maps following ANTONIO D'ANGELIS' (1578); the map of FRANCISCO QUARESMIUS and its copies.
In the imaginary maps: Maps following CHRISTIAN VAN ADRICHOM (1585), who used a concept of depicting Jerusalem in a rectangular image, devided by walls into four parts, which is based on the description of the city by JOSEPHUS PLAVIUS, and appeared for the first time in ADAM REISSNER 's book (1563); maps following VILLALPANDO, who brought in his interpretation of the book of Ezekiel, numerous depictions of Jerusalem, and the Temple (1604); maps following PETER LEICSTEIN (1556); maps of the VISSCHER family.
In addition to the descriptions of the maps and the mapmakers, RUBIN uses a special technique to establish his genealogical arguments: he compares certain elements (bridge, gate, wall, house, tree) in the maps, showing their resemblance and even equality. He also draws 'family trees' for the different groups. One of his important conclusions is that even the most realistic and reliable maps, those that rely on real knowledge of the city, served 'as a medium of communication and as a tool to transmit ideas and concepts, which in the case of Jerusalem were naturally related to the Christian holy places'. As for the imaginary-historical maps, they reveal in the first place the strong interest in the Holy Scriptures in Europe. Their genealogical study bears also evidence to the process of the distribution of images and knowledge.
The fifth chapter, titled 'From Artistic to Scientific and Measured Maps', studies the process of change from the maps discussed in the two previous chapters, to the epilogue, which deals with nineteenth-century maps, most of them already based on surveys of the city. The maps in the transition period tend to loose their artistic characteristics, in favor of a new format that tends to be more and more graphic, using symbols instead of pictures. There is a transition from panoramic drawings - which usually depicted the city from a horizontal perspective, from the top of the Mount of Olives that borders it to the east leading to a westward orientation - to a description from oblique birds-eye view. The orientation changes slowly to a northward one. Also used for the first time are techniques to depict topographic relief.
The maps of the seventeenth and eighteenth century still present a clash between two tendencies, the traditional perceptive-artistic one, and the developing cartography of that time. Some of them, as the French geographer and cartographer BURGIGNON D'ANVILLE, make this combination by indicating the location of ancient sites on a 'modern' city map. The breakthrough came only in the beginning of the nineteenth century, whereas the first survey of parts of the country was conducted by the French Army, which did not reach Jerusalem. The city had to wait until 1818 for the first map that can be categorized as 'measured map'. Still, even in that century, when the cartographic design, following the geographical knowledge, turned out to be accurate, and based on modern scientific guidelines, 'the artistic, subjective, and impressionistic depictions of the Holy City did not disappear'. This image and reality continue to exist parallel to each other in the cartographic depictions of Jerusalem, and would continue - as long as the unique religious status of this city would attract pilgrims and visitors.
REHAV RUBIN's book is an outstanding phenomenon in the modern historical-geographic Israeli scientific literature. He succeeds to avoid the obvious trap, of being another popular artistic album, and gives the reader an illuminating combination of texts and images in a pure scientific way. Hopefully, this study of maps of the Holy City will be continued by a parallel research concerning the maps of the Holy Land.
Autor: Haim Goren