Maps of Ereẓ Israel
MAPS OF EREẒ ISRAEL
Graphic descriptions of Ereẓ Israel relating to its topography and history and based on factual data, are not only extremely valuable sources for the reconstruction of the physiographic and anthropogenic conditions prevailing there at the time they were drawn, but are also nearly always far more important as documents which give evidence on contemporary developments of cartography in general. In this respect the cartographic representation of Ereẓ Israel differs fundamentally from that of any other country. The main reason for that was its unique status and its special significance for believers in the three monotheistic religions which had such a decisive influence upon the culture and history of the Occident. Consequently Ereẓ Israel became a main – at times almost a sole – object of cartography for several countries. There are innumerable maps depicting the "Holy Land," and they date back to the very dawn of cartography. Another important aspect is that there is no major break in the cartographic representation of Ereẓ Israel over more than a millennium and a half; thus the subsequent depictions of the country reflect the general developments of cartography and at times are even the principal reason for it. This resulted from the fact that the "Holy Land" was treated as a very special, even unique, geographical-historical and even cosmological object, involving specific problems as to adequate cartographic expression and therefore necessitating techniques and means that were not applied at all, or applied only partially and usually much later in maps dealing with other countries.
Ereẓ Israel in Ancient Cartography
Only four map-like documents dating back to classical times are known at present. Of these only one has been preserved in the original (Madaba Map mosaic), while the three others exist in medieval copies only.
This mosaic, partly destroyed when a church floor in Madaba was unearthed, is a typical pictorial map whose subject is the biblical countries, i.e., besides the land of Israel – to which it is mainly devoted – it depicts parts of Lower Egypt, Sinai, and southern Syria. For further details see *Madaba Map. It became one of the most important and reliable sources for the reconstruction in particular of the anthropogenic landscape of Ereẓ Israel in the Byzantine period.
the ptolemaeus maps
In the maps which are ascribed to Claudius Ptolemaeus, a second-century Alexandrian cartographer, and which are drawn presumably to illustrate his treatise Γεωγραφικὴ ὑφήγησισς (preserved only in medieval copies), Ereẓ Israel is represented in the map entitled "The fourth part of Asia." Its scale is very small; nevertheless, it is of great value since it contains much information pertinent to Ereẓ Israel in the period of the Antonine dynasty. From the cartographic point of view its greatest importance lies in the fact that (as will be detailed below) it changed thoroughly all the fundamental long-held clichés concerning the representation of the Holy Land, and introduced northern orientation and an exact scale by the use of the longitude and latitude grid.
the peutinger table (tabula peutingeriana)
The Peutinger Table seems to have been one of the very common road maps in use in the Roman Empire. The original table seems to have been drawn in the third century, and the extant copy probably dates from the 13th century. It is exceedingly long in proportion to its width (682 × 33 cm.), and its main subject, to which all other details are subordinated, is a communications network of the contemporary Roman Empire, specifically emphasizing its stations and the distances between them. Originally drawn in one piece, it was apparently cut into a series of sections of equal size later on. Ereẓ Israel is depicted on it in the lower portions of the sections ix and x. It is assumed that the copy does not differ appreciably from the original; the most pronounced variances are, significantly, several "Christian" additions localizing, illustrating, and explaining sights and events of Christian-biblical interest and thus mainly found in the portion depicting Ereẓ Israel and the adjacent regions. It has been assumed, therefore, that this preserved map was copied in order to serve as a guide to pilgrims traveling to Ereẓ Israel and Rome. The map is not drawn to any scale, and the location of the provinces represented on it is dictated merely by the space provided by the elongated shape of the map which led to extreme distortions in their outlines and situation.
the "saint jerome maps"
There are two maps known as the Saint Jerome Maps, both of these copies drawn in the third century. They are included in a manuscript in St. Jerome's De hebraicis quaestionibus et interpretationibus nominum Veteris et Novi Testamenti, and their contents provide evidence that the originals were produced at the time of the Church Fathers, but not necessarily by Jerome himself. Both are rather crude black-ink sketches very generalized in style and content, and were thus important as precursors of a great number of maps drawn by monks in the medieval period. One of the drawings depicts the Roman Empire according to its division into provinces, emphasizing the places of special interest to Christians. As a portion of this map is missing, only the northern part of Ereẓ Israel appears on it: the Mt. Hermon area and the sources of the Jordan (designated here as "Jor" and "Dan" – a toponymic deduction from the name of the river that prevailed throughout the Middle Ages). The second sketch contains both the whole of Ereẓ Israel and the adjacent countries, Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. Some of the most characteristic features of almost all the "scholastic" medieval maps are also present here: Ereẓ Israel occupies the central part of the drawing and is represented out of all proportion to the surrounding countries, which appear as small unimportant appendages. Similarly, only places and topographical features of biblical interest appear on this map sketch.
In the Middle Ages
Although in general, cartography in the Middle Ages was of a low standard, cartography of Ereẓ Israel reached a peak in this period, both in quantity and quality. For several centuries, Ereẓ Israel was the sole, or at least the most important and prominent, subject of map making. Two kinds of maps existed in the Middle Ages:
a) World maps (mappae mundi), almost all of which were of an abstract nature, and were largely the work of monks. Their purpose was to explain and illustrate contemporary ecclesiastical views of cosmography and geography, which, rather than being based on a knowledge of reality, were based on the Scriptures, as interpreted by the Church Fathers and the scholastics, as well as by the writings of ancient polyhistors such as Pliny, Pomponius Hella, and Solinus. Not only was the content of these world maps decisively influenced by the Bible, even their shape (a circle or rectangle) was a result of dogmatic interpretations of certain biblical passages. The world maps are "oriented," i.e., their top denoted the East, the presumed site of Paradise (which is shown on many of these maps as a geographical actuality). In all the maps, Ereẓ Israel occupies a prominent place, in many instances as much as a sixth of the entire space (as for example in the famous "Anglo-Saxon" map). In some of the maps, which are so abstract in conception and drawing as to represent mere cartograms, Ereẓ Israel takes up so much space that the other countries tend to appear as insignificant background only. The description of Ereẓ Israel on these maps consists entirely of biblical topography, with an addition of explanations and traditional identifications of places. Furthermore, from the beginning of the Crusades up to the 16th century, Jerusalem, believed to be the "navel of the world," was placed at the very center of all world maps. This of course, dictated the whole framework, structure, and composition of the map, fulfilling the role played in present maps by the reference location of the poles and the equator. The proportionally great detail of the historio-geographical and physiogeographic facts in which traditional particulars of Ereẓ Israel were depicted or verbally denoted on the maps (such as Mt. Gilboa, Mt. Tabor, various springs, caves, trees, holy places, etc.), however, made it necessary to invent new forms for expressing such details, and this seems to have had a lasting effect upon the development of symbols and signs used in maps in the following centuries. Among medieval maps there were many sketch like maps of Jerusalem that were generalized and geometrical and served as guides to pilgrims and Crusaders.
b) The portolano maps, which appeared in the late Middle Ages, were used mostly for purposes of navigation and were probably derived from charts developed as early as the Byzantine period. Many Jewish cartographers were involved in the production of this kind of map, in particular those of the Catalan school, centered in Majorca. The most renowned representatives of this school were Abraham and Judah (Jaime) Cresques; the latter drew the Catalan Atlas, the most beautiful and advanced project of the portolano cartography. Although on these maps Ereẓ Israel no longer occupies a disproportionate amount of space, it continues to exhibit many specific aspects, both as to content and cartographic execution. Since these maps were sea charts aimed at serving navigation, they concentrated primarily on the delineation of coastlines and the location of ports, and show hardly any details of the interior, except perhaps for a flag (banner?) signifying the political control of the country. An exception is made in the case of EreẓIsrael, for which the relevant portion of the map shows great inland detail, such as the Jordan and its lakes, holy places, and important churches and monasteries. The Red Sea is shown in red or crimson (whereas other bodies of water are shown in blue or light green); a white strip marks the site where the Israelites are presumed to have crossed the Red Sea. It has become increasingly certain that the portolano maps served as the basis of the few regional maps made in the Middle Ages (at least the few that have been preserved). All of these maps (with one exception, which also contains Britain; see the Matthew Paris map, below) have Ereẓ Israel as their subject. Considering the period in which they were made, these are exceptional maps: (1) They are the outcome of either direct observation or factual and critically adapted information. (2) Their contents are of a topical nature, describing Ereẓ Israel during and after the time of the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem, though they also contain many details based on biblical tradition – so important for every Christian pilgrim in the Middle Ages but not corresponding to the reality of the country and in contrast to the factual content of the map. (3) They generally serve a practical purpose, i.e., as guides for armies or pilgrims. (4) Some of the maps and techniques exhibit specific features that denote marked progress in cartography and were used in the maps of other countries only much later.
The outstanding medieval maps of Ereẓ Israel that have been preserved are the following: (1) A large map (2,080 sq. cm.), preserved at Florence, that is extraordinary not only with regard to its delineation of the coast, which corresponds closely to reality as is the rule with portolano maps, but also as to its wealth of detail. The details, however, are of a much lower standard; for example, the markings of locations – which is a major subject of all medieval maps – are out of proportion to the areal extension of the map. The map is oriented to the East, in contrast to the portolanos, thus reflecting the prevailing influence of the mappae mundi and their affinities. (2) A sketch map of Ereẓ Israel at Oxford, whose portolano origin is evidenced by its orientation to the North. It contains a great number of topical details, including some based on observation, such as a unique description of the road leading from the coast to Jerusalem. (3) Another map kept at Florence, outstanding in the quality of its illustrations and colors, but inferior in content to the two maps mentioned above. Because of its highly heraldic and ornamental designs and its wonderful coloring, it represents one of the most pronounced examples of the artistry employed in the late Middle Ages. (4) A map drawn by Matthew Paris of England (1250 c.e.), outstanding for its unique description of the road system and its allusions to caravan traffic between Ereẓ Israel and Syria. Some places, especially Acre, the most important Crusader fortress, are depicted in great detail in a separate small vignette. Paris was also the author of an illustrated road guide (England to the Holy Land) which is unique in cartography. The map has the form of a long strip and signifies with miniature designs the stops along the route between the two countries; the stops were usually churches or monasteries that pilgrims customarily visited, and even the roads leading from one stop to the next are indicated by two parallel lines. (5) Medieval cartographic presentation of the Holy Land reached its climax in a series of maps and sketches attached to a memoir by the Venetian Marino Sanuto, appealing for a renewal of crusading (liber secretorum fidelium crucis). The map appendage consists of a map of Ereẓ Israel, a rather stereotyped mappa mundi, a map of the Near Eastern countries, and a detailed, extremely accurate sketch of Acre, and a far more conventional one of Jerusalem. It is now established that at least the maps of Israel and of the Near East were drawn by Pietro Vesconte, a noted portolano cartographer. The map of Ereẓ Israel is an astounding piece of work, anticipating various future cartographical developments by several centuries. It is not only relatively exact in scale – a characteristic common to most portolanos as far as the coasts are concerned – but also exhibits a grid of longitudinal and latitudinal lines equally spaced throughout at the distance of 1 "leuca" (approx. 2,500 meters). The location of the towns and villages, at least those existing at the time, is rather exact, as are the sites of most topographic features represented in the map. Another extraordinary feature is the wealth of information (besides the usual indication of biblical sites, the areas assumedly occupied by the tribes of Israel, and pertinent remarks and explanations derived from the Bible) on the contemporary situation, based, as were the above-mentioned features of the map, on the author's personal observation and/or intensive study of the memoir. Because of its relative accuracy and abundance of detail, the map served as a pattern for other maps during the Renaissance period; however, its grid was generally replaced by the Ptolemaic latitude and longitude grid. (6) A map drawn by William Wey in the 15th century. It is a typical medieval depiction of Ereẓ Israel, in which all the elements of medieval presentation of this country are incorporated and superbly executed, in particular the pictorial embellishments and the coloring (illumination).
Ereẓ Israel in Arab Cartography of the Middle Ages
In general, medieval Arab maps were more exact, more detailed, and more comprehensive than European maps, but in technique they were far more uniform and stereotyped, employing outlines and symbols of a strictly geometric nature. In Arab maps, Ereẓ Israel did not occupy the most prominent place. The best and most comprehensive Arab map of Ereẓ Israel was made by Idrissi, whose cartographic works represent a mixture of Moslem and Western European style and content.
In Modern Times
The cartographical representation of Ereẓ Israel underwent some fundamental changes in modern times: 1. As a result of constantly growing geographical knowledge (gained from the works and maps of Ptolemaeus) and the extensive discoveries of whole continents, accompanied by the development of the sciences, in particular those dealing with the earth – its astronomical position, movements, and surface nature, Jerusalem could no longer be regarded as the "navel of the world" and ceased to be used as the center of world maps. 2. The mathematical and astronomical fixing of locations – by means of lines of longitude and latitude – based upon the method used by Ptolemaeus and arrived at by exact measurements, made it possible to establish the proper outlines of the countries and their relative size. Each map was now based on a distance scale and it was no longer possible to exaggerate the size of Ereẓ Israel in comparison with the other countries of the world. 3. However, whereas the maps of other countries usually contained only details of a contemporary nature, maps of Ereẓ Israel retained their historical character. The main purpose of these maps was to describe the topographical and geographical background of the events described in the Bible and the Gospels, and they ignored the actual landscape of the country, and in particular, the anthropogenic features (villages, roads, etc.). For this reason, a contemporary map of Ereẓ Israel (tabula moderna) was usually attached to the Ptolemaeus maps, made to a much larger scale, orientated to the East, and containing many traditional topographical designations. Most of these maps were based on that of Sanuto. Nevertheless, for a variety of reasons, maps of Ereẓ Israel retained their special importance in the early modern period: (1) For various historical and religious reasons (the Reformation, Bible translations), the invention of printing made maps of Ereẓ Israel the most popular and most widely distributed maps; they were also the first to be produced in print. (2) The competition resulting from the wide demand for maps of EreẓIsrael that provided the location of sites mentioned in the Bible, caused these maps to become generally the most splendid and beautiful ones produced in this period; this applies particularly to the signs and symbols used on the maps, the decoration of the margins, and the cartouche, i.e., the part of the map separated by an ornamental enclosure containing the title of the map, its author, the scales, sources, and so on. The historical content, that seemed to illustrate the background of the Bible and Gospels with the little contemporary geographical detailing that was available during the Renaissance period, made it possible to experiment with the maps and even led to innovations as regards scales, symbols, shading, coloring (illumination), etc. Thus the first indication of magnetic variation was made on a map of Ereẓ Israel.
ereẒ israel in the era of atlases
The magnificent atlases produced during and after the Renaissance, in Western and Central Europe, usually contained at least two maps of Ereẓ Israel, which were the works of different cartographers and were scarcely compatible with each other. One of the maps forms an integral part of each atlas and is usually based on Ptolemaeus; it is oriented to the North, contains some slight changes in the delineation of the coast and some additional relief features and hydrographic details, and a wealth of place-names mentioned in the Scriptures, in the works of Josephus and so on. Thus, in essence, the map depicts Ereẓ Israel as it is shown in "The fourth part of Asia" by Ptolemaeus. There are numerous instances, however, in which the Ereẓ Israel map in the atlas is oriented to the East and is much closer in content and nature to the Sanuto map, with the important addition of the use of the astronomic longitude and latitude grid derived from Ptolemaeus. The second map of Ereẓ Israel (and sometimes even a third, produced by yet another cartographer) is found among the numerous addenda (additamentum) that were attached to the atlases in this period. Important EreẓIsrael maps in this period were produced by Ortelius, Mercator, Tilemanus Sigenensis, Laicstein, Blaeu, Janszon, Homann, Sanson, Seutter, de Lille, Bonne, and d'Anville. The maps made by the last three cartographers mentioned (who represent the French school) were superior to others in the precision of their content and may be regarded as the most advanced maps prior to those of the 19th century. There were also maps of Ereẓ Israel that were attached to the numerous cosmographies published in this period (of which that by Sebastian *Muenster was the most widely distributed). Even more important, as a source for the maps appearing in the atlases, were the various works on Ereẓ Israel, which contained maps made to a large scale. Among these, mention should be made of the works of Jacob Ziegler, Adrian Adrichomius (1590), and last and most important, Hadrianus Relandus' Palaestina ex monumentis veteribus illustrata, which contains a number of detailed and relatively precise maps, especially one showing the relief and the consequent physiographic division of the country in the coastal plain, the mountains, the Valley of the Jordan, and the Transjordan plateaus. Only a single map of Israel, made in 1483 by Bernard Breitenbach, is based entirely on the author's personal observation and describes the country as he saw it. Combining both the medieval and modern cartographic style, the map enjoyed great popularity.
In the 18th and 19th Centuries
The first mapping of Ereẓ Israel based partly on topographical survey was made in connection with Napoleon's campaign in Egypt and Ereẓ Israel. The main result of this was a series of 47 maps of Egypt, Sinai, and Ereẓ Israel, named the Jacotin maps after their author (1810). Six of the maps depict parts of Ereẓ Israel, especially those parts through which the army passed on its invasion of the country. The scale is 1:100,000, and the maps show precise details of the areas where measurements were taken by means of the trigonometric methods that had developed in Europe by this time (based on the theodolite and the principle of triangulation). Thus, even the representation of relief on these maps was relatively exact and adequate. Relative differences in height and the diverse gradients of the slopes are shown by hachuring (i.e., expressing the gradient of the slope by discontinuous, proportionally dimensioned lines extending down from the summit to the base of the slope; the steeper the slope the shorter but thicker the hachure line and vice versa), and in general, the rest of the details shown on the maps, i.e., symbols and so on, are of a high standard. Some of the place-names are given in Arabic script, in addition to Latinized transcription. For a period of about 50 years these were the maps used in the exploration of the country.
Toward the end of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, Ereẓ Israel became the subject of numerous exploratory voyages and expeditions, as though it was still "unknown territory." Although the emphasis was on the archaeological and historical aspects of the country, much attention was also paid to its natural conditions including its physiography. In particular, interest was centered on the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, because they formed the lowest depression on earth. The works produced by such itinerant scholars and explorers as Seetzen, Burckhardt, Buckingham, and Robinson generally included sketch maps of some areas and sites, and an overall map of the country. Outstanding among these maps is the one attached to Robinson's work, drawn by Kiepert, the well-known German cartographer. An American naval expedition, led by Lynch, executed a map survey of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea. All these works were summarized in Erdkunde von Asien ("Geography of Asia"), the famous work by Ritter, which also contains a comprehensive list of all known maps of Ereẓ Israel, from ancient times up to the 19th century. A companion to Ritter's work, the atlas by Zimmermann, contains detailed maps of Ereẓ Israel, to the scale of 1:333,333. All the maps listed above were used as an important source for the study of the landscape of Ereẓ Israel in the first half of the 18th century. The final work of this period of individual research and mapping was the map of Van de Velde (scale 1:315,000), one of the most beautiful maps of Ereẓ Israel of this time.
In the second half of the 19th century, the existing maps were felt to be insufficient to meet the requirements of the growing interest in the country, especially for archaeological purposes. The Palestine Exploration Fund (pef) was established in Britain to carry out a systematic survey of Ereẓ Israel "from Dan to Beer Sheba." The work of the fund was preceded by a survey of the coastline and the adjoining hinterland, ordered by the British Admiralty (1858–62). They established not only the exact outline of the coastline but also a fixed number of points that were of great help in the survey that followed. An early project undertaken by the Fund was a survey of the Sinai Peninsula, aimed at establishing the route of the Exodus and the location of Mt. Sinai. The maps of Jebel Katerina (the presumed location of Mount Sinai) and Jebel Serbal, whose relief is expressed by form lines, are among the finest maps of the entire area. The first undertaking of the Fund in EreẓIsrael proper was a survey of Jerusalem and its surroundings (1864), carried out with a precision hitherto not applied in the Near East. In the resulting maps the relief was presented by the hachuring method. In 1871 an expedition of the Fund, led by Conder and later on by Kitchener, embarked upon the main mapping project. The survey encompassed the entire country, from the Qasimiye River up to south of the Dead Sea, and resulted in a set of 26 sheets, made to the scale of 1:63,360 (inch to mile), as on the British topographical maps, and based on a precise triangulation (two base-lines), leveling (Acre–Sea of Galilee, Jaffa–Dead Sea), and altimetric measurements. The relief is represented by means of shading and tinting. In many instances the height is also given in figures; rivers and springs are shown in blue; the various kinds of vegetational cover are indicated by accordant symbols, as are also anthropogenic features. The maps are particularly accurate in the location of the many existing ruins of ancient places of settlement; much effort was also devoted to establishing the names of places and their proper transliteration. The Fund published its Memoirs, and they serve to this day as an important geographical and historical source.
"The Survey of Western Palestine" was followed by efforts to carry out a similar survey of Transjordan, which, however, failed for a variety of reasons. Only the Deutscher Palaestina Verein eventually carried out a survey of Gilead, executed to the same scale as the maps of pef. The maps of the pef and, to some extent, the German maps too, served as a basis for Ereẓ Israel maps that were produced up to the conquest of Palestine by the British. Among later maps based on those of the pef, the most important was the Bartholemew map, in which the relief is expressed by contour lines and the subsequent altitude zones are also indicated by varying coloring. In World War i the existing maps were adapted to military requirements, with the help of aerial photography. The maps employed by the British army were made to a scale of 1:40,000, those of the German army to 1:50,000. Shortly before World War i a survey of the Sinai Peninsula was carried out by Newcombe, to a scale of 1:125,000; this included the Negev and the relief was represented by contour and form lines. Shortly after its establishment, the Mandatory government embarked upon a new survey of the country, using up-to-date methods. Two series of maps were printed, one a topo-cadastral set, made to a scale of 1:20,000, and the other a topographical set made to a scale of 1:100,000. This survey was also restricted to the area of Ereẓ Israel extending from the northern political boundary to somewhat south of Beersheba, and consisted of 16 sheets. In these maps the relief was presented by contour lines with a vertical interval of 25 meters. Agricultural areas appear in green and the hydrographic network in blue. The mapping was executed with comprehensive triangulation and fieldwork. Other maps produced by the Mandatory government were maps of the major cities and villages (scale 1:10,000) and a geographical map of the country (1:250,000). During the Mandatory period, efforts were also made to produce a Hebrew map of the country (Press, Brawer, Lief). These were necessarily adaptations of 19th-century maps and those issued by the government Survey Department but they made important contributions to the proper identification of localities, and the use of historical place-names and Hebrew transliteration. With the establishment of the state, "Survey of Israel" became one of its basic governmental institutions in view of the country's ever-expanding exigencies, in particular those connected with economic-demographic planning. These were met by extensive triangulation, leveling which also resulted in a dense altimetric network, new additions (Hebrew) of totally revised and updated map series 1:20,000 and 1:100,000, largely improved not only by the above-mentioned measurements but also by the thorough use of photogrammetric techniques. The 100,000 series is continuously supplemented by a far more comprehensive one at a scale of 1:50,000. The Israel Atlas (Heb. 1956–64) and its English edition (1970) – the latest additions to the series of "National Atlases" – summarize both the history and the development of the cartographic representation of the country and its present state in all the fields given to cartographic expression. In the early 21st century, the Survey of Israel was responsible for producing new maps in various fields, such as historical maps, topographical maps, regional maps, general maps, satellite maps, etc. The recent maps were produced with new techniques such as gis (Geographical Information Systems) and satellites. The Survey of Israel was also in charge of the updating of the Israel Atlas.
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