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The 'Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem'

More scientifically accurate maps of Jerusalem began to be produced from the sixteenth century onward, following on from the developments made by Reuwich and Breydenbach and other pilgrimage maps. As cartographic skills developed, so too did the veracity with which the Holy City could be mapped; in place of artistic panoramas came bird's-eye views of the city. Interestingly, however, there was less appetite to create topographically exact records for Jerusalem than there was for other, religiously less significant cities. It was not until the nineteenth century that the development away from imaginative, biblically-informed maps came to full fruition. The first modern, scientifically accurate map of the holy city, the British Ordnance Survey Map of Jerusalem, was undertaken by Major General Charles Wilson, a member of the British Royal Engineers, between 1864-1865. He was commissioned by George Grove—one of the founders of the Palestine Exploration Fund, the moving force behind Crystal Palace, a biblical Scholar and famous musicologist—with backing from Baroness Angela Burdett Coutts (of Coutts Bank fame) and approval from the British War Office, on the grounds that the map would allow for the improvement of Jerusalem’s polluted water supply. The aim of improving the water supply by mapping the city was, of course, not disinterested: greater intelligence of the area and the improvement of its infrastructure meant an increased chance of incorporating the Holy Land into the British Empire. In addition to two scaled maps of Jerusalem, Wilson published an accompanying report that included a significant review of the water cisterns below Temple Mount. This was an early foray into the archaeology of the holy city which, although conducted on the basis of civic development, ultimately functioned as a catalyst for further British exploration of Jerusalem’s architectural remains, particularly the destroyed Jerusalem Temple, presumed to be hidden below the Dome of the Rock. The production of modern scientific maps thus remained underpinned by military and religious interests, much in keeping with earlier endeavours to map Jerusalem.

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Matthew Paris's Itinerary map from London to Palestine

Pilgrimage maps of Jerusalem began to appear alongside mappae mundi and Crusader maps in the 1200s CE. This example was produced by an English Benedictine monk, Matthew Paris, and depicts the journey from London to Jerusalem. The map now appears in versions of Paris’s Chronica Maiora, his history of the world from creation to 1253 CE. It appears in a linear style, with folios pasted back to back, and may have originally have been a single long strip map. In his itinerary, Paris's Holy City is presented simultaneously as the real earthly city of his own day and as the square-walled heavenly city of the future described in the Book of Revelation. The function of the map is unknown, and has been subject to a variety of interpretations. Some understand Paris’s maps as illustrations of the historical accounts in his Chronica Majora, arguing that the images provided a political topography of the region in the wake of the first Crusades. This may have been intended to illuminate the territory for a royal English readership, as well as serving as an encouragement to reclaim the city, which had fallen into the hands of Khorezmian Turks in 1244. Others, however, argue that Paris’s map was created for his own monastic community, as an aid to a monk undertaking an imagined meditative pilgrimage to Jerusalem, the heavenly city of the future, which the monks were unable to visit in their own day.

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Hereford Cathedral's 'Mappa Mundi'

After the production of the Madaba map in the sixth century CE, no individual maps of Jerusalem are known to have been produced until the twelfth century. This should not, however, be taken as a sign that the sacred city’s importance dwindled during this period. Indeed, Jerusalem was recorded at the centre of the earth on numerous circular mappae mundi, also known as T-O maps because of their distinctive layout. These maps were produced beginning around 400 CE, continuing right up until the sixteenth century. They provide clear evidence of the pivotal position Jerusalem held in medieval cartography and the Christian imagination. This extraordinary example of a circular medieval world map, the Hereford map, now mostly brown and black, would originally have been richly coloured in blues and greens, with some of the lettering produced using gold leaf. The map is divided into three continents on a T-shaped layout, representative of the cross: in the bottom left of the map is Europe, with Africa to the bottom right and Asia at the top. It combines both real and imagined cartographic elements, with actual geographical cities and towns like Hereford, Paris and Rome appearing alongside biblical locations such as Eden and the Tower of Babel. The map is also populated by fantastical, mythical creatures. At the heart of the Hereford map is the city of Jerusalem, with the crucified Christ above. At the top of the map is another image of Christ, this time surveying the day of judgement. The producer of this map, then, was as much concerned with conveying the spiritual journey of the Christian as he was with aiding in any worldly travels to the Holy City.

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Matthaus Seutter's 'Prospectus Sanctae olim et Celebrimae, Urbis Hierosolymae', after Juan Villalpando

The works of Rashi, Maimonides and Nicholas of Lyra all offer literal diagrams of the Temple. Another important part of the iconographic tradition of Jerusalem are other, more imaginative, more theologically motivated, and more extensive reconstructions of the Temple, such as the map of Jerusalem produced by Juan Villalpando, a sixteenth century Spanish Jesuit priest, with a major Temple complex at the centre. Villalpando’s early modern printed reconstructions of the Temple were presented in a monumental illustrated three volume work, In Ezechielem explanationes, produced between 1594 and 1605 CE with assistance from Hieronymo Prado. With this work Villalpando aimed to offer the first comprehensive and to-scale reconstruction of the Temple, including its apparatus and its furnishings. As his title suggests, this was according to the description found in Ezekiel 40–48. As others concerned themselves trying to reconcile the varying accounts of the Temple presented by different biblical books and historical reports, Villalpando believed that the vision in Ezekiel was an accurate description of the Temple built by Solomon. He reasoned that the original Temple was planned by God, and was consequently entirely confident that the fantastic structure described by the prophet must have been a true-to-life memory of the temple destroyed by the Babylonians. Furthermore, the same Temple was also a vision of the Holy Church. Indeed, Villalpando was so confident in the original perfection of Solomon’s Temple that he went even further in his assertions about the architectural merit of the building and its Divine Architect. The Temple, he believed, formed the foundation for Vitruvian architecture and was the blueprint for all classical architecture in Greece and Rome. The work of baroque imagination that Villalpando produced on the basis of his convictions caused a great theological stir when it was published: he was tried for heresy by the Inquisition for misrepresenting scriptural accounts of the Temple, but eventually acquitted. Villalpando’s work considerably influenced later re-imaginings of the Temple, informing the architecture of monasteries and Churches across Europe. The version shown here was produced by Matthaus Seutter around 1734 and gives a sense of Villalpando's influence over subsequent imaginings of Jerusalem’s past.

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Bernhard von Breydenbach and Erhard Reuwich's 'Map of the City of Jerusalem' from Peregrinatio in Terram Sanctam

Peregrinatio in terram sanctam, a guide for pilgrims, is probably one of the earliest examples of an illustrated travel book. It was produced by Bernhard von Breydenbach following his pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1483–84, with illustrations by Erhard Reuwich of Utrecht. It includes the first printed map of Jerusalem. This section is from a pullout gatefold of the Holy Land, which in full stretches a remarkable 1.5 metres long.The panorama offers a relatively realistic rendering of the city, although the artist, viewing the city from the Mount of Olives to the east, has made several alterations to the geography of Jerusalem in order to accommodate his outlook. There were both aesthetic and theological reasons for these creative repositionings. Not only did the vantage point offer a spectacular view of the Holy City, but it was also the site at which Jesus wept for Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44). By presenting the city from this perspective, Reuwich enables his viewers to see as St Luke's Christ saw. More than any other work of its time, the map presented a realistic rendering of the city, albeit skewed in relation to its surrounds. The architectural accuracy with which Reuwich presented the Dome of the Rock, which is accompanied with the inscription Templum Salamonis or 'Temple of Solomon'—a elision of past and present also seen in the Hague Map—is acknowledged as an early example of a new type of realism in the depiction of the architecture of the Holy City. Reuwich's work signals a shift from previous, more theologically influence and imaginative conceived maps towards work of greater architectural and geographical accuracy. As a result Reuwich’s map of Jerusalem became one of the most influential of its time, shaping artistic renderings of the city and the Temple in the following centuries, including Holbein’s Icones as well as numerous maps up until the middle of the eighteenth century.

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Rabbi H.S. Pinie's 'Jerusalem Pilgrimage, 1875'

There was an established Christian tradition of mapping of the Holy Land throughout the Middle Ages, but there is little evidence of Jewish mapping of the Promised Land during this period, aside from Rashi's diagrammatic plans of the Holy Land. Jewish cartography began to develop during the early modern period, as Jewish map makers began to produce pictorial accounts of the route of the Exodus. Paralleling the Christian creation of maps of the Holy Land that aided or recorded religious journeys or battles—pilgrimages and Crusades—Jewish maps focused on the holy, historical geography of Jerusalem. This printed map produced by Rabbi Pinie was designed for pilgrims to Palestine and was published in Poland in 1875. Jerusalem appears at the centre of the panorama. Above the Dome of the Rock is the inscription ‘the place of the holy of holies’, hinting at the Temple site below the mosque (compare the Hague Map and Breydenbach's Peregrinatio). At the centre of Jerusalem is the Kotel Ma'aravi, or the Western Wall. The surrounding countryside is labelled with key sites from Jewish ancient history, including the tomb of Huldah the prophetess, the tomb of the ancestress Rachel, and the tomb of the prophet Samuel. The map has more recently appeared on Israeli postal stamps.

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Rashi's Diagram of the Holy Land

One of the most difficult tasks for interpreters of biblical texts has been to try to imagine and reconstruct the restored Temple which is envisioned in Ezekiel 40–48. One early instance of medieval imaginings of the Temple, based on Ezekiel’s descriptions, is the work of the Jewish scholar Rashi (1040–1105). Writing to a group of rabbis in Auxerre, France on the matter, Rashi hinted tantalizingly that, ‘concerning the northern outer chambers, about not being able to understand where they began to the north-west and how much they extended to the east ... I cannot add anything to what I explained in my commentary, but I shall draw a plan of them and send it to him.’ The images hinted to by Rashi’s letter have, like the Jerusalem Temple, been lost for several centuries. What has survived instead, in a number of thirteenth and fourteenth century CE manuscripts of Rashi’s commentaries, are his diagrammatic interpretations of the description of the Holy Land given in Ezekiel 45 and Ezekiel 48. The version here, inked some two hundred years after Rashi’s death, is an illustration for his commentary on Ezekiel 48. In it we can see the prophet’s proposed division of the Holy Land, with the land to be portioned off to God—the sanctuary—in the centre. Moving outward from this holiest space are the territories of the twelve Israelite tribes, beginning with the Levites who served in the Temple.

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The Hague Map

Although Jerusalem remained at the heart of the Christian imagination between the sixth and the twelfth centuries CE, it was not until the city came under Christian rule during the Crusades that it began to be mapped with detail comparable to the Madaba mosaic map. Approximately fifteen such maps are known from the Crusader period (1099–1187). Combining apocalyptic images of the New Jerusalem with the cartographic tradition of representing the world as a circle with Jerusalem at its centre, these maps present a peculiarly circular image of the holy city. The map shown here is a beautifully preserved example known as the Hague map, which produced in connection with the first Crusade. It offers a detailed rendering of the city, with Jerusalem is depicted as a walled city. Like the Madaba map and the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the Hague map presents a synthesis of reality and imagination. While not including fantastical beasts, the map takes liberties with the geographical layout of the Holy City, prioritising the presentation of Jerusalem in cruciform rather than according to its cartographic realities. The map also takes liberties in its presentation of the city’s architecture. For example, it shows two temples on the Temple Mount: the templum domini (the Temple of the Lord) and the templum salomonis (the Temple of Solomon). The buildings marked as such were, in actuality, the Dome of the Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque, which the Crusaders converted and renamed as churches. The continuation of this elision between the Dome of the Rock and the Temple of Solomon may be seen in Reuwich's map of the city, four centuries later.The overarching effect is a map that simultaneously erased Islamic influence on Jerusalem whilst glorifying and celebrating the Christian heritage of the city. As such, the Hague map offers an important witness to the struggle between Christians and Muslims over the Holy City, its architecture, and, indeed, its history. Indeed, this sense of Jerusalem as a place of conflict is heightened in the map itself, as mounted Crusaders speed across the bottom of the map, giving chase to several fleeing Saracen fighters. The figures have been identified as St George in the lead, with St Demetrius of Thessaloniki following on behind.