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Nebenzahl, K., Maps of the Holy Land: Images of Terra Sancta through Two Millennia. New York: Abbeville Press, 1986. ISBN 0-89659-658-3. 38x30cm., 164pp., illustrated, cloth. (505 Park Ave., New York, NY 16022).

This fine book continues the Abbeville press tradition of producing attractive works by well-known experts on various cartographic subjects.  It is the same size and format as their three earlier books on early maps, early sea charts, and celestial charts, all of which have been reviewed here previously. An interesting and informative introductory essay reminds us of the many "firsts" associated with Holy Land mapping. For example, what some consider the first printed map (excluding crude T-O maps) is the Holy Land map in Rudimentum Novitiorum.  Speed's first known map is a beautiful four-sheet map of Canaan known in only one copy. Similarly, Mercator's first known map is a six-sheet Holy Land map done in 1537.  The only known copy is a restrike done by C. J. Visscher from the surviving plates, unfortunately lacking the decorative border.  There is hope that a complete copy will be found, since in the introduction we learn that 100 copies were ordered from Mercator by the Jewish Community in Morocco.  Those planning trips to Morocco might want to check out the antique shops.  The introduction is followed by illustrations and essays on 60 individual maps, beginning with the Ptolemy and ending with a Napoleonic survey printed in 1818. Some of the maps discussed are the Peutinger Table, the Madaba Mosaic, as well as the more familiar maps of Ortelius, Plancius, Visscher and others.  The essays contain much fascinating information on Middle-Eastern history, as well as showing how cartographical knowledge of the region changed with time.  The book will of course appeal to specialists in the Holy Land, but I think others would enjoy the essays on early cartography and admire the illustrations of some seldom reproduced items.

David C. Jolly, 1988
 

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