Map showing journey from Jerusalem to Jericho


Most of the manuscripts I've selected have no particular personal significance to me, but drawn into the back pages of Hay's private journal I find a map that marks out a route I have travelled many times. In the mid-nineties I spent over a year living in a small place about a mile away from the Dead Sea called Arad, a 1950s Israeli pioneer town on the edge of the Negev desert. When this map was drawn, Arad and most of the other places I got to know in that area did not exist.


The author of the map has not attempted to describe the area in its totality but rather to detail his own journey from one place to another, remapping a place from his own reference points. This is something I am able to do as I look at his map, as I know many of the places he passes on route from Jerusalem to Jericho extremely well. It's a fascinating project, to compare a 19th-cenrury map of a place you know with your own mental map. Few places in the world have probably changed as much in this time period as this former part of Palestine. When the map was drawn, the area was so uninhabited that there were few towns or cities to describe. Instead, the artist chooses to portray landmarks on the route by their physical descriptions, such as 'deep glen, ruinous castle, clump of rocks and ruined bridge'. The Bedouins you meet in the desert today would do the same thing. The only places that are constant on Hay's map and which are also contemporary are Jerusalem, Jericho, Nazareth and the Dead Sea. I select a fragment of the map to photograph showing the Dead Sea; the resulting image looks like a bleeding wound. R. L.


Taken from: Add. 17469 A Little Dust Whispered
Author / Creator: Rachel Lichtenstein
Publisher: The British Library
Date: 2004
Copyright: By permission of the British Library Board