This plate depicts the monumental Gate of Damascus. In addition to being one of the best preserved and most exquisite historical gates into the Old City of Jerusalem, it is also a poignant reminder of the town’s antiquity in that it almost seems sunken into the surrounding landscape. Most archaeologists will recognize this as the result of stratigraphic accumulation and tangible evidence that the gate has been in use for centuries, if not millennia.
To this day, the Damascus Gate remains one of the most important entrances to the Old City and a historic landmark in its own right. Well camouflaged within the gorgeous composition, the view is marked with several numbered labels that refer back to a legend accompanying the plate. These identify the following features in the view:
2. Cistern in which the Author found the Old Northern Gate mentioned by Josephus.
3. Northern Road.
4. Road going round the City.
5. Elevation of the ground.
6. Ancient Wall of Herod. Masonry of Herod’s Wall.
7. Path leading into the Royal Caves.
8. Dome of the Church of the Resurrection.
In 1864, the same year that the first British Ordnance Survey of Jerusalem was commissioned, Italian engineer Ermete Pierotti published Jerusalem Explored, a seminal work on the history, archaeology, and architectural history of the ancient and holy city. This work included Pierotti’s notes and insights after years of surveying and mapping under Ottoman authority. The publication was divided into a text volume and a volume of plates. The latter included 63 lithographs showing everything from strategic views, across architectural plans and section profiles, to panoramic vistas of the Old City. Most of the lithographed plates were based either on photographs or drawings made by Pierotti and his team.
The plates were lithographed mainly by Thomas Picken of London and printed by the prominent British lithography firm William Day & Sons.