Module II – Telling Jerusalem’s History though Maps



By Dr. Sarit Kattan Gribetz

There are many ways of mapping the history of Jerusalem, and exploring its development and role as a holy city and a sacred center from antiquity to the present.  One might examine the impact of the city’s geography and topography in its early history; the layers of temples, churches, mosques, and shrines that were built within the confines of the city and often on top of earlier sacred sites; destruction caused by military and religious conquests; imaginations of heavenly cities and temples in lieu of an earthly Jerusalem; the depiction of Jerusalem on ancient and medieval coins, handled on a daily basis as part of a commercial and economic system; the location’s natural resources, such as bedrock and water, and their transformation into theologically potent commodities; or Jerusalem as a pilgrimage center that drew people in and sent ideas and souvenirs out of it.

This assignment is designed to help you explore the history of medieval Jerusalem through depictions of the city in maps.  What might maps be able to reveal to us about how the cartographers who made them imagined Jerusalem and regarded their own relationship with and perceived proximity to the city?  What do we learn about how people related to Jerusalem – as a real and imagined city – through a close examination of medieval maps?

Below, you will find a series of late antique and medieval maps, each of which depicts Jerusalem in some way.  As you carefully examine each one, please pay attention to all of the different aspects of these maps: their date and location of creation, what they include and exclude, what colors are used, what geographical regions they depict, what details they highlight, what shapes are used, how writing is incorporated, what images are represented, and other ways in which they are similar and different from one another.  What can we say about the depiction of Jerusalem in each map?  Please pay particular attention to the Oxford Outremer Map, which can be studied in great detail on the accompanying website.

Please write a one-page analysis of these maps and their depictions of Jerusalem, with a focus on what we might learn about their creators as well as the changing place of Jerusalem in medieval Europe before, during, and after the crusades.

1. Madaba Map
This mosaic map was discovered on the floor of the Byzantine Church of St. George in Madaba, Jordan.  It depicts several monumental buildings in Jerusalem and has been dated to the mid-sixth century.

2. Arculf Map
Vienna, Osterreichisches bibliothek 458, f. 4v|
This is a map illustrating a copy of Arculf’s De locis sanctis, from the mid-ninth century.

3. Isidore World Map
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 10058
This is a map illustrating an eleventh century copy of Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae

4. KBL Map
Psalter Fragment, Hague KB 76, f. 5
Early-Mid 12th century map of Jerusalem

5. Cambrai Map
Cambrai, Médiatheque municipale, 437
This is a map of Jerusalem from c. 1170

6. Peutinger Table
Tabula itineraria ex illustri Peutingerorum Bibliotheca quae Augustae Vindel. Est.,Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Vienna, Austria
This road map depicts the road network of the Roman Empire.  This sixteenth-century print was created by a Flemish cartographer, Abraham Ortelius, based on a thirteenth-century manuscript, which itself was based on a late antique map.

7. Oxford Outremer Map
The thirteenth-century Oxford Outremer Map, attributed to Matthew Paris of the abbey of St. Albans, can be explored digitally here.  For an overview of the map and its history, see here.

8. Hereford Map
This “mappa mundi” from the Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England is from c. 1300.  It can be explored interactively here.

9. T-O Map
This type of world map was widespread in the medieval period; Jerusalem sits at the intersection of three continents and two rivers at the very center of the world.  It was inspired by Isidore of Seville’s passage from the Etymologiae, in which he states that the inhabited world is round, surrounded by an ocean, and divided into three parts.

This version is from the 1472 printed edition of Isidore’s Etymologiae, printed in Augsburg by Günther Zainer