Maps Archive

Just as there were different versions of questionnaires, different kinds of maps were used to pinpoint the locations of historic buildings. This has affected the process of numbering the buildings; in the beginning of the project, we adopted the municipalities’ official numeration of basins and of buildings in the main cities. This led to the lack of a serial numeration in many centers, because land plots in the municipality maps were not serially numbered in the first place. In the majority of localities that consisted of villages, other kinds of maps were used, like those we obtained from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, which we divided into presumed basins to facilitate the fieldwork. These maps were no better than the previous ones used; they were inaccurate, and historic buildings were often not marked on them, especially deserted ones. They were designed to identify inhabited buildings only. It was necessary therefore to redraw the buildings in accordance with the field maps, which researchers modified, and to include missing buildings, a process that invariably includes a risk of human error.

Most of the maps we obtained from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics were paper maps that had to be scanned into the computer as a picture. The maps then had to be drawn and computerized after we had introduced the modifications drawn by the field researchers, who gave numbers, defined the location of the historic buildings, and drew them if they were not in the original map. From a technical point of view, then, hand drawn maps carry a risk of error, especially in terms of area and spatial relationships. However, these maps give a good indication of the location of the building and the number of historic buildings in the center; these buildings were pinpointed according to field maps and were color coded.

We then adapted most of the maps to the Geographic Information System, so that they could be linked to the information in the database as soon as each building on the map was allocated a number. We did that for various localities like the old city of Jerusalem, the city of Hebron (in cooperation with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee), and for extensively studied villages Ein Sinya and the city of Bitounia. Work started in Riwaq on additional localities like Bani Zaid Al-Gharbiyyah, Deir Estya, and Al-Mazra'ah Al-Gharbiyyeh. We plan to work on the rest of the centers that need to be given real coordinates to link them to the West Bank and Gaza Strip maps. After that, we will be able to get unlimited information and maps through the reports that database can generate.

It is still very difficult to obtain maps of localities. We did not find a single center from which we could obtain all the maps needed and that were available. Therefore, we cooperated with a number of institutions to solve this problem: the Geographical Center at the Ministry of Local Government, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, the Central Bureau of Statistics, and municipalities and village councils. This project has shown the extent to which a national map center is needed in order to gather all available maps of Palestine. It also showed the need to obtain maps for all areas. It may be useful to shift all maps, especially those produced by aerial photography, to the Geographic Information System to achieve maximum benefits by this system.

Readers of this report will notice that maps are not available for each center. Moreover, we were able to pinpoint only some historic buildings; some maps remain incomplete, especially in the centers that were surveyed in the Cultural Resources Project.

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