Concepts and Facts of Late Ottoman Jaffa: Cartographic Records and Archaeological Evidence
- 1Israel Antiquities Authority
- 2Independent researcher
Keywords: Ottoman, Jaffa, Maps, Archaeology, Ramparts, Urban
Abstract. The ancient city of Jaffa experienced considerable changes during the 19th century. The effects of warfare, extensive reconstruction and urban expansion turned the Jaffa of 1900 into a markedly different place than the town Napoleon besieged in 1799. Although textual, artistic and photographic records reflect these long-term changes, it is maps drawn by military and civilian European engineers that provide the most comprehensive illustrative testimony.
Recent archaeological efforts have, moreover, added yet another perspective to this mosaic of sources. Among the material evidence providing valuable insight into Jaffa's 4000 years of history, data on the later phases of Ottoman rule is particularly intriguing. We now have previously unavailable material confirmation and more detailed records in a higher resolution for urban expansion over farmland and cemeteries, road paving, public construction and the dismantling of fortifications.
The joint cartographic and archaeological testimonies offer a more realistic outlook on a period, which, until recently, had been subjectively perceived through military and religious filters, or the critical and often derogatory perspectives of explorers, adventurers and tourists. The challenges the Ottoman authorities faced were numerous and complex; cartographic and archaeological evidence has increased our understanding of the means, investment and planning they employed to maintain control over a thriving and heterogeneous harbor town during a period of profound transformation.