Ottoman Archives Posts More Rare Photos of the Holy Land This Week
More pictures were digitized and posted by the Ottoman Imperial Archives this week, and we are thankful to the archivists for preserving and sharing their photographic treasures.
Among the pictures was this unique photo of Jerusalem, taken from the Mt. Scopus area and dated 1886. The remnants of snow are still visible.
Another photo, dated 1916, shows the Galilee town of Tiberias on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. One of Judaism's holiest cities (along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed), Tiberias dates back to the era of the Bible and the Talmud.
|Jerusalem's Old City and Temple Mount, photographed from the east. (Ottoman Imperial Archives, 1886)|
By Ottoman order the town was confined within the ancient walls until 1908 when a Christian order built a convent outside of the walls. Several farms were established in 1911 outside of the walls, and they are visible in the photograph.
Ottoman Imperial Archives Releases Important Mystery Photo of Jerusalem
The Ottoman Imperial Archives continues to digitize and post Online its massive collection of documents, photos and illustrations.
Resposible archivists and librarians around the world realize the importance of digitizing its treasures and sharing them with the world.
We will continue to present and analyze the photographs from this archive as we review and identify them, but we wanted to immediatey share this historic photograph of Jerusalem's Old City taken from the Mount of Olives.
|Jerusalem's Temple Mount with the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque. Also note the small Muslim |
graveyard in front of the city wall and the "Golden Gate" or "Gate of Mercy." (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
We surmise that the photographer or owner of the photo was French from the notes made on the image to identify 16 sites numbered on the photograph. It is difficult to read the notes, but number 3, "Mosque d'Omar," and number 12, "Tombeau de David [David's Tomb]," are legible and in French.
But when was the photograph taken?
The answer is provided by one of the landmarks not contained on the tourist list -- the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue near the Hurva Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter.
ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿The Hurva, built in 1864, is the building on the left with the dome. Short of funds, Tiferet Yisrael didn't complete its dome until Emperor Franz Josef of Austria visited the site in 1869 and supposedly asked why it had no roof. "Why, the synagogue took off its hat in honor of Your Majesty," he was told. He contributed money for the project, and the synagogue was dedicated in 1872.
|The Hurva and Tiferet Yisrael Synagogues. The former|
was built by students of the Gaon of Vilna, the latter
by followers of Hasidic sects. The two groups
The photo of the topless synagogue, therefore, was taken prior to 1872, more than 140 years ago.
Both synagogues were blown up by the Jordanian Legion during the 1948 war. The Hurva was recently rebuilt, and there are plans to rebuild the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, too.
Life and Death of a Jewish Courtyard in Jerusalem's Old City
|A scene in a Jerusalem courtyard in the Jewish Quarter, April 1917 (Imperial War Museum Q 86316) |The picture of this Jerusalem courtyard in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City was taken by a German army photographer during World War I and was found in the British Imperial War Museum. Jerusalem at the time was ruled by the Ottomans.
The distinctive arches on the building on the right identify it as the Rothschild Building, part of the Batei Machaseh compound built for Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter. It was donated by Baron Wilhelm Karl de Rothschild of Frankfurt. The building still bears the Rothschild family's coat of arms. The compound was built between 1860 and 1890 to provide housing for Jerusalem's poor.
The Rothschild Building appears in a series of dramatic Life Magazine photographs
taken by John Phillips during the Jordanian capture of the Old City during the 1948 war. The arches can be seen on the left side of these pictures; the picture above was a reverse view of the ones below. The first was taken in the midst of the fighting in June 1948, and the Jews are seen gathering their belongings for their evacuation. The second picture, taken in July 1948, shows the looting that took place. The pictures appear in the DaledAmos
|Jewish Quarter courtyard prior to evacuation (Life Magazine, John Phillips)|
|Jewish Quarter after the evacuation and looting (Life Magazine, John Phillips)|
Phillips' last picture shows the Jews' evacuation from the Old City under the guard of Jordanian Legionnaires. The Rothschild Building serves as the backdrop to the tragic picture.
|Jewish refugees heading to the Zion Gate near the Rothschild Building |
"The Merchants of Jerusalem" -- Are They Not Jews? Pictures Taken by a German Photographer during World War I
Mystery Picture: A Fountain Found and a Windmill Disappears
Several excellent answers were received giving the location to our latest mystery picture. But where's the windmill?
|One caption in the Ottoman Archives labels this picture as the Ottoman Train Station Opening Ceremony.|
Another identifies it as the dedication of the Fountain in 1902. (Ottoman Imperial Archives)
As pointed out by several readers, the location is the public sabil (public fountain) above the Braichat HaSultan (Sultan's Pool) valley outside of Jerusalem's Old City, on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The event is the public (re)dedication of the fountain, one of seven built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century.
Simon provided a contemporary photo and this explanation: It would be hard and dangerous to take a picture from the same location as today's mystery photo, because you would need to stand in the middle of a very busy road. In fact you would need to crouch down, because the level of the street has obviously risen since the photo was taken.
This screen capture from Google Maps Street View is very close though: Mishkenot Sha'ananim, the arch of the drinking fountain at the end of Sultan's pool, and the Sephardic synagogue in Yemin Moshe can all be seen in both pictures. I'm not sure why the Montefiore windmill isn't visible in the old picture -- either it's behind the flag or it blends into the background.
Unless I'm missing something, I don't see where the picture was doctored: the fancy pediment on top of the drinking fountain looks like a wooden attachment made at the time, not photo-doctoring.
|Google Street View picture of the site today. Note the windmill of Yemin Moshe|
Jonathan added: Suleiman the Magnificent's fountain "sabil" on Hebron Road (technically the dam at the southern end of the Sultan's Pool). Built in 1536. The entablature above the sabil is not original and was added by the editor. Mishkenot Shaananim is in the background.
What's missing in the Ottoman picture? A whole windmill!
Why was the windmill, built for the Jewish community in 1857, removed from the Ottoman picture? Perhaps because the imposing structure overshadowed the fountain.
|The same dedication ceremony before the 114-year-old Ottoman version of "Photoshop"|
(Harvard, Central Zionist Archives)
We thank Martin for this additional view of the fountain (below), taken from the Sultan's Pool. The hand-colored picture is from Chatham University's collection of Jerusalem pictures.
|The fountain is in the center of the dam beneath St. Andrew's Church and St. John's Eye Hospital (today|
the Mt. Zion Hotel)
|On the road from Jerusalem to Bethlehem (today's "Hebron Road") Note the fountain on the dam. |
(Hand colored. Chatham University)