Showing posts with label Felix Bonfils. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Felix Bonfils. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

19th Century Photos of Jerusalem Now Digitized by New York Public Library

Israel's History - a Picture a Day (Beta)

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 

The digitizing of vintage photographs continues in archives
and libraries around the world. Last year the New York Public Library
digitized its photographic collections and posted them online.
The photos in the Library's Dorot Jewish Division include
hundreds of 19th Century pictures of Jerusalem and Palestine.

Below we post several of the pictures taken in the first
years of photography by pioneers such as Félix Bonfils
and Auguste Salzmann.

The images were captured by their early cameras while the
region was under Turkish role, and years before World War I,
the emergence of the Arab nationalist movement, Theodore Herzl's
Zionist movement, and the creation of the State of Israel.

Rare picture of Jews at the Western Wall,
with signature of Félix Bonfils
(NYPL Digital Gallery,1894).

Most early photos of this area were taken at ground level 
and did not show the tiny area where Jews were permitted to pray.

Inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Other collections possess this photograph, but few are of similar 
quality and clarity. (NYPL Digital Gallery, circa 1870).

Another view of the inside of Jaffa Gate
by Auguste Salzmann
 (NYPL Digital Gallery, 1856)

Damascus Gate by Auguste Salzmann
(NYPL Digital Gallery, 1856)

Zion Gate, also known as David's Gate,
by Salzmann  (NYPL Digital Gallery, 1856)
Lions Gate, also known as St. Stephens Gate,
by Salzmann  (NYPL Digital Gallery, 1856)

Jews praying at the Western Wall
by Robertson, Beato & Co.
(NYPL Digital Gallery, 1857)

 Click on photographs to enlarge.  Click on the captions to view the original pictures.

Responsible Archivists Preserve Their Photographic Treasures

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Cave under the Temple Mount's Foundation Stone?

A Cave under the Temple Mount's Foundation Stone?
More Mysteries Documented in Ancient Pictures


Descent under the "great rock" on Mt. Moriah (under the Dome of the Rock).
Woodcut in explorer Col Charles Wilson's book, Picturesque Palestine, Sinai
and Egypt. (1881, New York Public Library)
For centuries, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem has been the focus of worshippers, scholars and explorers.

But few archaeologists have explored history's secrets hidden in the caves, tunnels and cisterns beneath the Hiram el-Sharif -- controlled by the Muslim Waqf.
Interior of Mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) and the
Foundation Stone. (circa 1870, Bonfils, Library of Congress)
See also photo from American Colony Collection (circa 1900).
According to Jewish tradition the stone was the site for Abraham's
"binding of Isaac" and the location of the Temples' Holy of Holies.
Muslims believe it was from where Muhammad ascended to heaven.
The Israel Daily Picture site provided last week photos from the Library of Congress archives taken after a 1927 earthquake destroyed parts of the el-Aqsa mosque.

We were very curious when we discovered additional photos in the American Colony and Felix Bonfils collections showing the entrance to a cave beneath the "foundation stone" (even hashtiya in Jewish tradition) on which the Jewish Temples and the Mosque of Omar* were built.

The Temple Institute in Jerusalem provided details on the cave:

Beneath the rock is a hewn cave [some claim the cave is natural] seven-by-seven meters wide. In the cave's ceiling is a hole approximately half-a-meter in diameter, a sort of chimney going up.
Entrance to the staircase to the cave beneath the Foundation
Stone (Bonfils, circa 1870). See also American Colony photo

"Solomon's Prayer Place" can be
seen in the above woodcut to
the left of the staircase
A feature in National Geographic suggested that the beneath the cave may be another chamber hiding the Ark of the Covenant: "Knocking on the floor of the cave under the Muslim Dome of the Rock shrine elicits a resounding hollow echo, [but] no one has ever seen this alleged chamber....Famed 19th-century British explorers Charles Wilson and Sir Charles Warren could neither prove nor disprove the existence of a hollow chamber below the cave. They believed the sound reportedly heard by visitors was simply an echo in a small fissure beneath the floor."
The cave under the Foundation Stone today (with permission
of Ron Peled, All About Jerusalem)


The American Colony photos include a picture taken in the cave captioned "Solomon's prayer place under rock of Mosque of Omar [i.e., Dome of the Rock]." The prayer niche is more likely an ancient Muslim Mihrab pointing to Mecca.

*According to National Geographic, "the dome, called Qubbat as-Sakhrah in Arabic, is not a mosque. Rather, it is a shrine built over the rock."