3. British mapping of Jerusalem

In the nineteenth century the United Kingdom also exerted its influence on the Palestinian part of the declining Ottoman Empire, and the British cartographic service carried out several projects, one of which was the mapping of Jerusalem in 1864-’65.

Until the middle of the century Jerusalem was an underdeveloped city with, at the most, 8,000 inhabitants, distributed over four districts. Muslims lived mainly in the areas to the north and north-west of the Haram ash-Sharif in the east. Christians mainly in the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the north-west of the city, Jews in the vicinity of the Wailing Wall on the south-west of the Temple Mount, and Armenians in the area of the Zion Gate in the south.

In the middle of the nineteenth century the proportions began to change. Orthodox Jews came to Jerusalem to ‘lernen’, to wait for the coming of the Messiah or to die there. European superpowers tried to take up a position here, in the event that the Ottoman Empire were to collapse. A combination of colonialism, religious fervour and archaeological interest was concentrated on Jerusalem.

In the 1860s the old city, comprising no more than one square kilometre, was overpopulated. The Russian Orthodox Church erected a gigantic complex for its own pilgrims to the north-west of the old city. Jews built a residential area on the hill to the south of the Hinnom valley (just outside the limits of the map) in sight of the Zion Gate. This settlement, Mishkenot Sha’ananim, established a precedent for other communities. A new city arose.

Ordnance Survey (ed.), Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem by Captain Charles Wilson & Colonel Sir Henry James (Southampton 1866)

Ordnance Survey (ed.), Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem by Captain Charles Wilson & Colonel Sir Henry James (Southampton 1866)