Rare 150-year-old Jerusalem maps sell for NIS 13,000 at auction

First modern maps of Jerusalem from Ottoman era composed by British Army contractor sold.

By
April 11, 2016 01:53
1 minute read.
jerusalem map

AN IMAGE of one of the maps, which dates from 1864. (photo credit: KEDEM AUCTION HOUSE)

Rare, 150-year-old maps of Jerusalem from a British Army operative during the Ottoman Empire, constituting “the basis for the modern understanding and recognition of Jerusalem,” were sold at auction on Sunday for NIS 13,000.

The maps in question, the first modern topographic maps of the city drawn by Capt. Charles Wilson, attempted to resolve sewage and sanitation problems in Jerusalem.

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Wilson, a British Army engineer contracted by the Palestine Exploration Fund in 1864 for one year to determine the most practical means of improving the holy city’s pressing sanitations issues based on the most relevant data of the time, is considered to be a pioneer in the field.

His scholarship and research led to an advanced understanding of topography that resulted in a pronounced improvement of how to advance Jerusalem’s primitive sewage system.



The maps include the first cartographic maps of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

They had an estimated sale price of NIS 2,700.



At the time, the maps, considered the first practical survey conducted in the city, were part of Britain’s “Survey of Jerusalem,” constituting the first modern archeological cartographic survey ever conducted of the city.

Until that point, most maps were arranged based on antiquated scripture.

“This map is the basis for the modern understanding and recognition of the city of Jerusalem, which had been shrouded in mystery,” said Ron Warren, the owner of Jerusalem’s Kedem Auction House, which sold the documents.

“Until then, it was customary in Europe to draw Jerusalem according to... scriptures,” Warren said. “This map is the basis for the modern understanding and recognition of the city of Jerusalem, which had been shrouded in mystery.”

Wilson, a devout Christian and proto-Zionist, mapped out other critical areas of Israel, as well, in what is considered to be the most comprehensive and accurate delineation of the country’s infrastructure.


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