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The Photographic Collection | École Biblique et Archéologique

The Photographic Collection

Founded in 1880 as research institution on Bible and its historical, geographical and archaeological surroundings in the old Ottoman Palestine, the École Biblique of Jerusalem immediately created a photographic fund, which became precious other the years. The Dominican clericals from the first generation got the deep intuition that photography represents a fundamental stake for documenting their biblical researches, along with their historical and archaeological ones. In consequence, the collection’s themes are not such a systematic coverage of called “biblical” countries at that time, but rather coverage of professors’ specific researches. The photographs were here to support the demonstrations or, at least, to underpin their research hypotheses. In that way, the collection is far different from the well-known collection of the “American Colony Photographers”, or even from the Eric Matson collection, more illustrative but less scientific.

The ancient photographs are the original negatives on glass plates of diverse formats, from 18x24cm to the 7x13cm little stereoscopic. All of those are well conserved in Jerusalem, where the digitalization started in 2001. Besides the 12.000 glass negatives, the Biblical School owns a collection of sheet-films and middle-format negatives (6x9cm and 6x6cm), along with old sepia printings. In 2017, the total of digitized photographs reached about the 25.000 pictures. Alongside with Biblical School’s collection were added scans coming from others ancient collections in Jerusalem, obtained through amicable agreement. Among them are the 2.200 ancient photographs of the White Fathers from Sainte-Anne church (in the old Jerusalem), such as the 1.600 glass plates acquired from the Assumptionist Fathers of the old convent Notre-Dame de France – and other communities (Jesuits, Salesians, Trappists, and Betharramite Fathers). The Latin Patriarchate also lent 2.400 photographs from its own albums, digitalized by the Biblical School…