Reconstructing nineteenth century landscapes from historical maps—the Survey of Western Palestine as a case study

Gad Schaffer*, Noam Levin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abstract: Geographic information systems allow the extraction and quantitative analysis of information from historical maps. The aims of this research were to examine the completeness of information represented on the 1881 Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) map, to quantitatively reconstruct the landscape of nineteenth century Palestine and to explore whether spatial patterns in land cover/land use can be partially explained statistically by physical and human factors. Using historical aerial photos, we concluded that most of the major past landscape features were indeed shown on the PEF map, with an average overall correspondence of 53%. Forests and Mediterranean maquis were more abundant at distances greater than 2 km from towns and villages. Specific land cover/land-use types were associated with certain soil types, topographic regions and rainfall thresholds. In conclusion, the 1881 PEF map can serve as a reliable reference for understanding the land cover/land-use patterns of nineteenth century Palestine.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)360-379
Number of pages20
JournalLandscape Research
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2 Apr 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Landscape Research Group Ltd.

Keywords

  • GIS
  • Palestine
  • aerial photos
  • historical maps
  • land cover
  • land use

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