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New project allows users to explore the maps of pre-1948 Palestine

May 24, 2018 at 12:12 pm

A new open-source project has used historical British maps to reveal what Palestine looked like before the 1948 Nakba, reported CityLab.

“Palestine Open Maps” “allows users to see the Palestinian landscape as it looked before 1948—and to search for villages and towns from that era to find out whether they remain, were depopulated, or were built over.”

According to CityLab, “Palestine Open Maps is the first open-source mapping project based around historical maps from the British Mandate period, which preceded the creation of the state of Israel.”

“Though the British map sheets were already available online and in the public domain, they were difficult to obtain in high resolution and were divided into hundreds of separate sheets, so it wasn’t possible to visualise them as a whole,” the report added.

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The project was “a collaboration between the organisation Visualizing Palestine and Columbia University Studio X Amman”, and led by Ahmad Barclay, a Beirut-based architect and designer. The team “knitted together more than 200 map sheets and made them navigable in high resolution”.

The maps show “roads, topographic features, and property boundaries”. The team’s next task, according to CityLab, is “to make the maps downloadable”.

Putting the villages on screen that were destroyed, depopulated, and built over in the form of these maps makes what happened irrefutable

Barclay said.

“The British essentially drew these maps as part of their control of Palestine,” he said. “But the maps unintentionally captured the moment before the destruction occurred.”

Barclay “pointed out a potential future use for the project: backing the property claims of Palestinians, should they be able to return to the land from which their parents and grandparents came. “These maps can show the villages from which protesters originated,” said Barclay.

Read: UNRWA removes Palestine map, Jerusalem images from school books