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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Jerusalem in the Time of the Crusades by Adrian J. Boas (Routledge) Serving as both a scholarly account of Jerusalem's archaeology and a useful guide for the interested reader, this work illuminates the turbulent past of a city which is both medieval in appearance and a modern city at the center of international and religious interest. This expansive new work examines the history of the city and its unique society as well as presents archaeological evidence for Crusader Jerusalem.

The period of Frankish rule in Jerusalem is not a long one when compared to some other periods in the history of the city. It embraces two distinct phases, the first and principal one extending from the conquest of the city on 15 July 1099, at the end of the First Crusade, until the Ayyubid occupation on 2 October 1187 following the Battle of Hattin and a brief siege lasting twelve days. The second, short‑lived phase began with the reoccupation of Jerusalem by the Franks under the terms of the Treaty of Jaffa and Tell Ajul, ratified on 18 February 1229. When the treaty expired ten years later in 1239, Jerusalem was briefly occupied by al‑Nasir al‑Da'ud of Kerak. After destroying the Tower of David, he departed and the city was reoccupied by the Franks in 1241. This final phase of Crusader occupation ended with the Khwarizmian conquest of the city in 1244.

These two periods of Frankish rule together amount to little more than a hundred years. In terms of the physical changes that took place in this short span of time, we can place Crusader Jerusalem among the important periods in the history of the city. Within the contours of Roman/Byzantine Jerusalem the Franks carried out an internal transformation that was in some measure as great as any made to Jerusalem since the time of Hadrian in the second century AD. The evolution of Jerusalem into a Crusader city was a protracted undertaking extending over several decades, the dual aim of which was the physical restoration of the spiritual capital of Christendom and the transformation of a provincial Muslim city into the capital of a Western Christian kingdom. The rebuilding of Jerusalem was also aimed at overcoming the demographic crisis which the Franks themselves had created. When they occupied Jerusalem, a slaughter of the local population was carried out between 15 and 18 July 1099. It left the new capital purged of `infidels' but also almost a ghost town, as few Crusaders remained in the city after the conquest. As a result, alongside the passionate desire to restore Christian holy places to their past glory, there was a more practical need to repopulate the now near‑empty city. The lengthy process of restoration and repopulation began shortly after the occupation. However, restoration requires capital, and after the First Crusade financial support from the West was not always forthcoming. Though there were few local resources, some of the abandoned wealth of Fatimid Jerusalem could now be channelled into new projects. This must have been at least partly the means by which a fairly large number of churches was built in the first half of the twelfth century to replace those destroyed by the Egyptian Caliph alHakim at the beginning of the eleventh century.' These included not only the Church of the Holy Sepulchre but the churches of St Anne, St Mary on Mount Zion, the Tomb of the Virgin in jehoshaphat, St James in the Armenian Quarter, the Church of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives and a large number of lesser churches.

However, the efforts to repopulate the city required much more than churches. The real recovery of Jerusalem and its transformation into a city worthy of its position in Christendom was achieved when both Church and lay leaders realized the tremendous potential of pilgrimage, as a source of cash, commerce and new settlers. Thus one of the prominent features of twelfth‑century Jerusalem is its focus on what one is tempted to call the `pilgrim industry', the medieval equivalent of the tourist industry. Christian pilgrimage began to revive immediately after the Frankish conquest, and steadily increased as internal security improved. The need grew for hospices, hospitals, money exchanges and specialized markets and the Franks began to construct these in the first half of the twelfth century. An early thirteenth‑century text which describes these institutions shows the centrality of pilgrimage in the life of the city. La Citez de Jherusalem, an anonymous French pilgrim guide, describes, as do most such guides, the numerous churches and holy sites in and around the city.' However, it also describes, and in greater detail than any other medieval source, the streets, money exchanges, markets, hospices, hospitals and various other institutions established specifically for the use of the crowds of pilgrims. Crusader Jerusalem was a city in which the Christian pilgrim was well looked after.

In appearance, the Old City of Jerusalem is still essentially a medieval city. However, within the confines of its walls some fundamental changes have taken place since the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The gates are not locked at night and the walls no longer serve as bulwarks against a hostile outer world. The open fields around the inside of the walls, once used as fruit and vegetable gardens and open markets, have largely been overrun by construction works of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There is now electricity, gas, piped water and a reasonably modern sewage system. Nonetheless, with the exception of the Jewish Quarter, which has been largely rebuilt since 1967, the city is very much as it appeared nine hundred years ago and a visitor from the twelfth century would probably not have too much trouble in finding his way about.

Medieval Jerusalem (see the map on page xv) was the holiest of Christian cities, containing, as it still does, a multitude of pilgrimage sites. Like other cities where tourism and pilgrimage are staple industries, the city's population can be divided into two distinct groups‑permanent residents and visitors. In such cities the ratio between these two groups reflects the degree of success in ministering to the needs of visitors. A higher proportion of visitors to residents will be found in a city which is doing a better job at `selling itself' to the public. Because of its spiritual attractions Jerusalem has always done this fairly well. The Middle Ages were no exception and, while we have no statistics, or at least none that are reliable, there can be little doubt that by such standards medieval Jerusalem was quite successful.

How can we judge the degree of success of a city which, to all intents and purposes, ceased to exist eight hundred years ago? One way to do this is to look at its surviving monuments. A large number of medieval public buildings can still be found in the city. In less than ninety years the Franks not only replaced all the churches destroyed under Muslim rule but built a large number of new ones, re‑identifying and on occasion inventing holy sites to go with them. They also strengthened the fortifications and built a new palace, constructed monasteries, hospices, hospitals, covered market streets, bathhouses and various other institutions. The extent of Frankish efforts in the construction of these works has no parallel in the history of the city since the Byzantine period and by such standards Crusader Jerusalem seems to have been a great success as a pilgrimage city.

JERUSALEM: STONE AND SPIRIT: 3000 Years of History and Art by Dan Bahat and Shalom Sabar is ($60.00 hardcover, 152 pages; 220 illustrations, 157 in color, Rizzoli International Publications,  ISBN: 0847821242) This title provides some stunning images and art not otherwise obtainable reflecting on the religious meaning of this sacred city.

As the spiritual center of the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions, Jerusalem has been the focal point of religious, political, and artistic fervor since its founding by King David in 1004 B.C. The city has witnessed the building of the Temple by King Solomon, Greek and Roman occupations, the preaching of the gospel by Jesus, the crusaders’ siege in the 13th century, and the prophet Muhammad’s ascension in the 16th century on through to today’s fragile coexistence of the Israeli and Palestinian people.

Throughout this rich history, a fascinating array of art and artifacts has been created to illustrate the city’s history. Jerusalem Stone and Spirit the first book to celebrate this city through the art created during its 3,000 year history. The authors, an archeologist and an art historian. have gathered a vast array of material from around the world many pieces were virtually unknown to narrate the history of Jerusalem. The text is arranged chronologically from antiquity through Judean, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman rule to its present-day status as Israel’s capital.

JERUSALEM: STONE AND SPIRIT is beautifully designed and features lavish 5-color printing and over 200 illustrations. Visual highlights include:

  • The Priestly Benediction, the earliest biblical quotation found on a silver plaque from mid-7th century B.C.
  • An 8th century pomegranate rendered in ivory, thought to be from Solomon’s Temple.
  • Selections from Antiquities of the Jews, an illuminated manuscript by Josephus Flavius from 15th century France, a 16th century Persian print depicting Muhammad’s ascension to heaven.
  • A series of 13th century maps including crusader maps and the Hereford Cathedral map of the world with Jerusalem in the center.

With its authoritative, accessible text and superb collection of art, JERUSALEM: STONE AND SPIRIT stands out as a uniquely illustrated addition to the literature of one of the world’s most fascinating cities.

About the authors: Dr. Dan Bahat is a senior lecturer at Barllan University in Israel and was for many years the District Archaeologist for Jerusalem. Dr. Shalomn Sabar is a senior lecturer in the Departments of Jewish and Comparative Folklore and the History of Art at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. and is Chairman of the Society for Jewish Art in Israel.

VIEWS OF JERUSALEM AND THE HOLY LAND by Steven Brooke ($60.00, 224 pages; hardcover, 200 black-and-white illustrations, Rizzoli International Publications; ISBN: 0847819957)

In VIEWS OF JERUSALEM AND THE HOLY LAND photographer Steven Brooke recreates the tradition of the earlier vedutisti artists with an exquisite tour of these sacred places. Stressing the landscape and architecture, Steven Brooke's photographs are painstakingly composed, mostly shot early in the morning to capture the stillness, and printed in glorious duotone. The images are often shown with corresponding 19th century engravings that create a fascinating dialogue with the past. All the major historical views are here: overviews of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, The Temple Mount, the various Stations of the Cross, The Western Wall, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the tomb of the Virgin Mary, and the room of the Last Supper. The author contributes an essay on the history and architecture of Jerusalem, and each of the more than two hundred photographs includes historical notes that further enrich the experience of VIEWS OF JERUSALEM AND THE HOLY LAND.

About the author:
Steven Brooke is the photographer of Rizzoli's VIEWS OF ROME and is a regular contributor to books and journals on architecture and design.

THE WESTERN WALL  photographs by Michael Ronnen Safdie, with an introduction by Yehudah Amichai ($40.00, hardcover, 144 pages, Levin Associates; ISBN: 0883631970)

THE WESTERN WALL in Jerusalem is undoubtedly recognized as the most sacred and important place in Jewish biblical history and evokes the deepest emotions in millions of Jews the world over. When you stand at the Western Wall, you stand at the center of ancient Israel and at a place where Jewish pilgrims have come for thousands of years.

Michal Ronnen Safdie presents an intimate photographic portrait of the Wall and the people who come to pray, to see, to touch, or just to share in the experience of being in its presence. During the course of a day, the Wall receives thousands of different people from as many different cultures and walks of life. Scores of activities take place there, and this book captures them as only the eye of a skilled photographer can: brides and grooms arrive at dusk on the way to their wedding to pose for the perfect wedding shot; a Jew wearing Tefiffin holds a video camera in his free hand, pausing in his prayers to capture his own special moment at the wall; thousands of excited young boys amass at the Wall as they lay Tefiflin for the first time. Ronnen Safdie captures the mounting excitement as crowds of people blanket the plaza to celebrate numerous celebrations: religious holidays such as early sunrise prayers for Shavuot, national ceremonies such as Memorial Day, and political events such as the end of a three-day fast by hundreds of Israelis protesting the bloodshed in the region. In contrast there are intimate moments of individuals at the Wall. Photos of everyday life around the Wall show people passing by its shadow on their way to market, and laundry from nearby homes dries in the heat of the Jerusalem midday sun. Combined with this are rare views of Moslems at their holy Friday prayer atop the Temple Mount, while Jews are seen praying below at the foot of the Wall.

Men and women, soldiers and children, and people of all ages and cultures come to the Wall to inscribe their most fervent prayers on tiny pieces of paper that they insert into the cracks between the ancient stones. It is a place of hope and awe, and Ronnen Safdie's juxtaposition of the intimate and the public, the sacred and the everyday, as well as her ability to artistically capture the scene, make this book all the more remarkable. Accompanied by acclaimed Israeli poet Yehudah Amichai's poignant introduction, THE WESTERN WALL provides a superb visual and verbal introduction to this most remarkable sacred place.

Michal Ronnen Safdie was born and raised in Jerusalem. Following her military service as an officer, she studied sociology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Brandeis University in Massachusetts. She then embarked on a career in photography, focusing on architecture. From 1994 to 1995 her photography was devoted to documenting life in Jerusalem. Currently, she is working on her next book, which is on older women who have lived through the span of the 20th century.

Yehudah Amichai is world renowned as one of Israel's finest poets. His poignant verse has placed him among the more notable writers of our time.

JERUSALEM: One City, Three Faiths by Karen Armstrong ($17.50, paper, 472 pages, notes, index, color insert, photos, Balantine, ISBN: 0-345-39168-3)

JERUSALEM: In the Shadows of Heaven, photographed by 50 of the World’s foremost photojournalists, edited by David Cohen and Lee Liberman (cloth, 192 pages, color photos throughout, Collins Publishers San Francisco, ISBN: 0-00-225095-0) Now out of print, this stunning photojournalist study of the city captures the wide cultural disparities and devotional styles in the city. Worth looking for.

CITY OF STONE: The Hidden History of Jerusalem by Meron Benvenisti ($24.95, cloth, 278 pages, 14 photos, 7 maps, index, University of California Press, ISBN: 0-520-20521-9)

JERUSALEM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Martin Gilbert ($30.00, hardcover, 421 pages, photo insert, bibliography, maps, index, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., ISBN: 0-471-16308-2) PAPERBACK

THE DOME OF THE ROCK photographs by Said Nuseibeh, text by Oleg Grabar ($42.00, cloth, 176 pages, color photos throughout, Rizzoli, ISBN: 0847819426)

Jerusalem (Hebrew: Yerushalayim; Arabic: Bayt al-Muqaddas) is the capital of Israel, is a holy city of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is situated in the Judaean Hills,35 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. Jerusalem's history stretches back about 5,000 years. About 2500 BCE, the Canaanites inhabited the city. Later, Jerusalem became a Jebusite citadel. The growth of the city may be attributed to its location along a pass through the Judean Hills on an ancient trade route, and to its religious importance. For Jews, Jerusalem is the focus of their religious longing, the site of their ancient Temple, and their historical capital; for Christians, the city is the site of many of the events in the life of Jesus Christ; for Muslims, the city is their third holiest as the site from which Muhammad is said to have risen to heaven and the site of important mosques. Jerusalem's religious role makes tourism a major source of income. In 1949, at the end of the First Arab-Israel War, Jerusalem was partitioned between Israel and Jordan. In 1967, however, Israel took control of the entire city; it officially proclaimed all of Jerusalem the capital of Israel in 1980. These actions were bitterly resented by the Arabs, and most nations refuse to recognize the Israeli claim to sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Karen Armstrong's book is a readable and evenhanded account of the complex disputes, religious, ethnic and political. She maintains throughout her discussion a sharp focus, never losing sight of the whole city as her topic. Her selection of crucial historical detail makes her account informative for a general reader.
Domain of Moslems, Jews, and Christians, Jerusalem is a perpetual contest, and its shrines, housing projects, and bulldozers compete in a scramble for possession. Now one of Jerusalem's most respected authorities presents a history of the city that does not fall prey to any one version of its past.

Meron Benvenisti begins with a reflection on the 1996 celebration of Jerusalem's 3000-year anniversary as the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. He the juxtaposes eras, dynasties and rulers in ways. that provide grand comparative insights. But unlike recent politically motivated histories written to justify the claims of Jews and Arabs now living in Jerusalem, Benvenisti has no such agenda. His history is a polyphonic story that lacks victors as well as vanquished. He describes the triumphs and defeats of all the city's residents, from those who walk its streets today to the meddlesome ghosts who linger in its shadows.

Benvenisti focuses primarily on the twentieth century, but ancient hatreds are constantly discovered just below the surface. These hostilities have created intense social, cultural, and political interactions that Benvenisti weaves into a compelling human story. For him, any claim to the city means recognizing its historical diversity and multiple populations.

A native son of Jerusalem, Benvenisti knows the city well, and his history makes clear that all of Jerusalem's citizens have enriched the Holy City.

Meron Benvenisti is a former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and is the author of numerous books. A modern history of Jerusalem, from its 1917 liberation from the Turks by the British to present-day uneasy peace accords with the Palestinians covers every political, cultural, religious, intellectual, architectural, and social facet of the city. Lucid, readable, essential history, JERUSALEM IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Martin Gilbert covers every facet of political, cultural, religious, architectural,
intellectual, and social life in Jerusalem. It reflects all the conflicts,
traumas, aspirations, and achievements of this often tense yet always
vibrant city.

Jews have constituted a majority of Jerusalem's population since about 1876; today they constitute about 75% of the population, and Arabs constitute about 20%. Both Hebrew and Arabic are spoken. Jerusalem is divided into three sections: the Old City, New City (West Jerusalem), and East Jerusalem. The walled Old City, in the center, contains Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian quarters. The Old City was under Jordanian control from 1949 to 1967; during this period the Jewish quarter was destroyed, but it has recently been restored. Most of the narrow streets of the Old City are lined with shops where merchants sell foodstuffs and traditional handicrafts; homes are clustered around courtyards separated from the streets by high walls.

Many of Jerusalem's religious landmarks are located in the Old City. The Western Wall (or Wailing Wall) is a small remaining portion of the original wall of Solomon's Temple. After the Jews were banished from the Temple Mount, the Western Wall became the most sacred place of Judaism. Atop the Temple Mount are the gold-domed Dome of the Rock (begun CE 661) and the silver-domed al-Aqsa (begun CE 710) mosques. The Via Dolorosa, a street in the Old City, is believed to be the site of the original Stations of the Cross. The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was begun in the 4th century CE and was rebuilt by the Crusaders beginning in 1099. The largest of Jerusalem's 160 parks is a 121-ha (300-acre) national park encircling the walls of the Old City.

This plainly gorgeous art book, THE DOME OF THE ROCK carefully documents a world-renowned Mosque that sits atop the hill upon which the   Jerusalem Temples once stood. It commemorates the Night Journey of the prophet Muhammad from Mecca to Jerusalem, a central Islamic mystical event.  On account of this association, it is one of the most visited sites in Islam outside of the Hajj pilgrimage sites. With its shining golden outer dome, richly tiled walls, and mosaic-laden interiors upheld by gleaming marble columns, it constitutes a treasury of Islamic sacred decor, which is almost completely nonrepresentive of natural forms. Nuseibeh's colorplates reveal many closer views of details of the building than could be enjoyed on the site itself, and perhaps better perspectives and panoramas of the shrine and its surroundings, as well. This work is accompanied by an important and useful architectural text by Oleg Grabar. Highly recommended.

The New City, built mostly by Jews, has expanded since the 19th century. This section was under Israeli control during the period of partition. Notable among the government buildings is the Knesset, seat of the Israeli parliament. To the south is the Israel Museum, housing an art collection and an archaeological collection, as well as the Shrine of the Book, where the DEAD SEA SCROLLS are located. Further to the west, are modern high-rise apartment projects and the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Center.

East Jerusalem, located just north of the Old City, is the modern Arab section. Although primarily a residential area, it is also the site of the Rockefeller Museum, with a fine archaeological collection.

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