Israel, circa 1900: 115 year old photos of the Holy Land

A photographic treasure uncovered by the Church of Ireland.

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Lenny Ben-David,

Irish Church Photos: Jaffa
Irish Church Photos: Jaffa
INN:LBD

From the find: Coming ashore at Jaffa Port (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). Note the Turkish flag flying.

In 2011, Rev. Stephen White brought to Dublin several old cardboard boxes found in the old Church of Ireland Killaloe deanery in Limerick. He delivered them to Dr. Susan Hood, the archivist for the Church of Ireland's Representative Church Body Library.

Above is what a treasure looks like. Boxes of lantern slides -- the precursor to photographic slides and slide projectors

Dr. Hood understood she had just received a photographic treasure: hundreds of century-old "lantern slides" of sites in Ireland, India, and the Holy Land.

Dr. Hood deserves credit for preserving the images, digitizing them and posting them on the RCB's homepage.

We thank her for granting us permission to publish the RCB photographs.

Last year, Dr. Hood and BBC undertook an investigation to discover the name of hitherto anonymous photographer. They were able to identify him as David Brown, a soap manufacturer from Donaghmore who was also an amateur photographer. In 1897 he joined a pilgrimage led by his brother in law, a Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland.


Click on pictures to enlarge. Click on the caption to view the original.



Damascus Gate (Credit: RCB Library, 1897) View inside Damascus Gate HERE
View Herod's Gate HERE
View Lions Gate HERE

Jews praying at the Western "Wailing" Wall. The day is a Sabbath or Jewish Festival since the men are wearing their Sabbath finery, including fur hats. The photograph is very unusual since in virtually all of the other 19th century pictures at the Wall men are not wearing their customary prayer shawls (talitot) perhaps because of a Jewish prohibition of carrying objects on the Sabbath, or because of the harassment of Muslim authorities.
(Credit: RCB Library, 1897)

Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The man on the right is believed to be the photographer, David Brown. Note the Turkish soldier on duty inside the Church. (Credit: RCB Library, 1897).

A Turkish soldier was also on guard in Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus). See below.

Joseph's Tomb (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). Certain pictures, such as this one, were almost obligatory to
all visiting photographers assembling a travelogue.

Turkish guard inside Joseph's Tomb (Library of Congress 1900)

A "hides market," according to the RCB's Library caption, but no location is given. Actually, the photo is taken in Jerusalem at the entrance of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Looming over the complex on the hill is the Tifferet Yisrael Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). The synagogue was destroyed by the Jordanians along with the Jewish Quarter in 1948.

Lenny Ben David is author of American Interests in the Holy Land Revealed in Early Photographs

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