Back from Holy Land

The French School of Biblical and Archaeological Studies of Jerusalem is a strange place. It’s very close to Damascus Gate, the main crowdy access to the old city of Jerusalem, however time seems to be stuck in the mists of time… It’s a huge monastery, founded in 1890, where you can meet incredible people, doing interesting researchs or studies which seems to belong to another time-frame. The noises of the city, just outside the monastery walls, don’t seem to take their mind off their thoughts, their interests: once you enter in the monastery you got to a different dimension…
When I got to the school I was slightly anxious about it, I had never done any presentation in a monastery, I totally ignored the kind of situation I could have found myself in… But the atmosphere was incredible. Apart from studying the Bible, the School is the main center for archeological studies of the area, they have a great museum/collection of finds: old clays, roman coins, jars and… maps!
I’m very keen on archeology, and being there for me was like having a match at the Maracanà for a footbal fan…
During the presentation the stalls were crowded with very interesting/interested people: bible scholars, extinct languages professor, archeologists…
I spoke them about the graphic representation of the city of Jerusalem throughout the history of cartography, showing how the technics and the purposes of the representation have changhed, from symbolical depictions of an imaginary city, based on some suggestions contained in the Bible, (the renowned T-O maps), to well-detailed portrayals of the Holy Land. As Jerusalem has always played an important role/position in cartography, people enjoyed this kind of map-tour, showing a lot of interest in what I was saying.
After the presentation I visited the archaeological museum, and I saw a little part of the Map Room: a breathtaking moment, I handled representations of Idrisi maps, ancient topographies of Jerusalem, old diagrams… I was like a child in a toy factory.
Then I spent some time in the museum, drinking with some archaeologists, sumeric and ugaritic language teachers, talking about archaeological excavations, cuneiform characters, Qumran manuscripts. We were surrounded by old pieces, which my new friends were handling so naturally, asking themselves whether a coin was of a period or of another, whether and iscription on a tablet was babilonese or eblaitic…  I felt I was ‘only’ a graphic designer… but that was fun.

Luigi Farrauto

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