BiblePlaces Newsletter
Vol 9, #2 - February 25, 2010

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This newsletter has moved servers.  Earlier today we sent out the February edition of the BiblePlaces Newsletter from the new server.  If you did not receive it, you may need to do one of several things.  First, check your spam folder to see if it was improperly moved there.  Second, look to see if you have received a subscriber verification request.  About 10% of our subscribers must confirm their subscription by clicking a link in the email.  Third, you can always sign up for a subscription here (if you're not sure of your status, give it a try; you cannot be subscribed twice).

This is a great opportunity to thank our gracious hosts at Vpop.  They have provided a wonderful service to us all these years, and we are very grateful. The newsletter began as a Yahoo Group in March 2002, but Vpop attracted us with a far superior service (and no inappropriate ads!) in June 2003.  At the time this newsletter had only 604 subscribers, and today we have more than 7,000.  Brad Hilton deserves our special thanks—he has done an enormous amount of work behind the scenes to enable this newsletter to exist.  Thank you, Brad, for your tireless work.

This month we're releasing a collection of photos that's unlike anything we've produced before.  Our primary interest is in the Bible, and all of our photo collections are intended to help in studying and teaching this book. Naturally, there is some overlap with ancient history.  But this is the first time we have created a collection that is devoted to modern history.  Why did we do it?  Because we find the history of Palestine/Israel in the 20th century to be fascinating.  Some of our colleagues teach this history in university courses.  And the photos that the American Colony took were just too good to pass up.

The Early 20th-Century History is the seventh volume in The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection and it features more than 400 selected photographs of important events from the pre-1948 history of Palestine, including the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm to Jerusalem (1898), the surrender of Jerusalem (1917), the Arab Riots (1920s), the founding of Hebrew University (1925), and Zionist projects in Palestine.  Interesting figures photographed include Winston Churchill, Lawrence of Arabia, Lord Balfour, Emir Abdullah, and King Hussein. You can read more about the CD, with a list of all the photographs, here.  The photographs have descriptive titles but do not include explanatory notes. The CD is available here for $15. 

Thank you for reading!

Todd Bolen

News from the BiblePlaces Blog...

Massive Wall in Jerusalem Dated to Solomon's Time - It's big and it's old, but it appears to be largely a recycling of previously reported excavations...

One Million Kippot Donated to Western Wall - Men no longer have to worry about the cardboard head coverings flying off...

High Level Aqueduct Discovered in Jerusalem - This Roman water channel replaced a Herodian system that brought water to Herod's Palace...

Two New Trails and 150 Restored Sites - Israel is planning to spend $135 million(!) to develop two new hiking trails and to restore biblical and modern sites of historic interest...

Decumanus Discovered in Jerusalem - The major east-west street from the Roman period has finally been found in excavations near Jaffa Gate...

And more...

Featured BiblePlaces Photos:
Turkish Surrender of Jerusalem

One of the most dramatic events in Jerusalem's history was the Turkish surrender to the British in December 1917.  Without a shot being fired, the Holy City came under Western control for the first time since the Crusades.  The photographers of the American Colony had a thriving photographic enterprise in the city and they witnessed this historic event through the lens of their camera. 

Each photo below is linked to a higher-resolution version, but we recommend that you download the 1917 Turkish Surrender PowerPoint presentation (8.6 MB), which includes an additional 29 photos (34 total).  The annotations below were written by Tom Powers for this newsletter.  The CD volume includes descriptive filenames, but does not include any annotations.

You are welcome to use these images for personal study and teaching. Commercial use requires separate permission.  These photos are included in the new American Colony volume, Early 20th-Century History. For more high-quality, high-resolution photographs and illustrations of biblical sites, purchase the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands or the Historic Views of the Holy Land collections.


Turkish surrender to British, 1917

Click picture for higher-resolution version.

One of the best-known of all American Colony images, this photo depicts the "first" surrender of Jerusalem to the British in World War I (by some accounts there were as many as five "surrenders" on the one day, December 9th, 1917). On that fateful morning, after the last Turkish forces had evacuated the city overnight, the Arab mayor Hassain Effendi al-Husseini (center) first consulted with his neighbors at the American Colony and then, armed with the Turkish document of capitulation, headed westward through Jerusalem toward the British forward units. The mayor's entourage now included the American Colony's chief photographer, Lewis Larsson, and when the party encountered two bemused Brits, sergeants Sedgewick and Hurcomb, on sentry duty near the village of Lifta, Larsson immortalized the moment: the "first surrender" of Jerusalem. Later that day Larsson thought to retrieve for posterity the white flag of surrender - a bed sheet from a Colony-run hospital, which wound up in London's Imperial War Museum.

Date of photograph: Dec. 9, 1917


Parade on Jaffa Road

Click picture for higher-resolution version.

A British military formation has descended Jaffa Road in connection with the arrival of General Allenby at Jaffa Gate. The view is looking north, with the corner of the gate-tower appearing at the extreme right. The guards at the head of the column, who appear to be passing in review, are obviously Indian. Allenby may be one of the mounted officers on the right (although it is known that he actually entered the city on foot, out of respect). Today, this particular spot appears dramatically different: First, the British in the 1940s made a point of removing all the buildings crowding the Old City walls, including the entire block seen on the right (the city wall is just visible above the roof-line of the hotel, upper right). Then, decades later, the Israelis constructed a broad, paved esplanade in this exact location and lowered the grade of the street itself so as to carry traffic underneath.

Date of photograph: Dec. 11, 1917


British troops entering Jaffa Gate

Click picture for higher-resolution version.

Here British troops proceed into the city through Jaffa Gate. The view is to the west. Seen here are both the original, 16th-century angled gate passage and, at far left, part of the wide breach opened for Kaiser Wilhelm's visit in 1898. Looming over the gate-tower is a mostly forgotten Jerusalem landmark: the Turkish clock-tower erected in honor of the sultan in 1907 and dismantled in 1922 by the British, who sought to eliminate all such dubious accretions to the Old City walls and gates. The American flag seen hanging from the façade of the hotel marks the location of the American Colony Store, a multi-faceted commercial venture that was a fixture there right up until 1948. Finally, a draped camera on its tripod appears in the street at lower left, perhaps a British Army photographer—or is it a rival studio to the American Colony?

Date of photograph: Dec. 11, 1917


Pasha reading proclamation of surrender

Click picture for higher-resolution version.

The setting of this photograph is the area inside Jaffa Gate, where the British authorities are conducting the official ceremony marking their newly-won control over the Holy City. The elevated platform fronting the gate-house of Jerusalem's medieval Citadel provided the ideal location. The "Pasha" said to be reading a proclamation—probably the officer seen holding a sheaf of papers—is actually the British general Bill Borton who for a few weeks held the post of military governor, until the installation of Ronald Storrs on December 28th, 1917. The brief proclamation, intended to restore order and reassure the local populace, was read in several different languages, its words focusing on the imposition of martial law and the guaranteed safety of the holy places of all faiths. As for the cityscape recorded on film here, it is interesting that very little has changed today. The hotel building across the plaza is today's Petra Hostel and the steeple beyond belongs to the Greek Catholic patriarchate.

Date of photograph: Dec. 11, 1917


Allenby investiture by the Duke of Connaught

Click picture for higher-resolution version.

A few months after their capture of Jerusalem, General Allenby and other officers were awarded military decorations in this ceremony. The "Duke of Connaught" shown presenting the medals is Prince Arthur, a son of Queen Victoria. In this view, looking west, two historic structures frame a gap in the city walls south of Jaffa Gate: the Citadel, with its 17th-century round minaret, appears on the right, and the "Kishleh," a Turkish police station and prison, is on the left. The Kishleh compound has continued to serve as a police post under all the successive rulers over the city: British, Jordanian, and now Israeli.

Date of photograph: March 19, 1918



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All contents (c) 2010 Todd Bolen.  Text and photographs may be used for personal and educational use.  Commercial use requires written permission.