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One hundred and one current maps of Israel were analysed for their modern mapping religious ele-ments in respect of the Holy Land. The main issues of the study are which religious elements appear and their form of representation in the range of maps; the impressions that can be derived from the different maps; and the narratives that can be construed from this representation. The research methods applied were hermeneutics and semiotics. Narratives identified on the various maps were the ‘holy’ vs the ‘secular’ narrative, the ‘holy Christian’ narrative, the Jewish narrative, and the Muslim narrative. The Christian narrative proved the most dominant, while the Muslim narrative was rarely found in the maps, even in those with a ‘Palestinian’ narrative. Religious maps evinced a special carto-graphic status because of their subjective nature and their attempt to combine contemporary reality with the tradition of maps of the ancient Holy Land. A ubiquitous finding was disregard for political issues, although the maps’ messages allow the map user to draw conclusions about ideology, images and conflicts. The semiotic method was found appropriate and suitable for reading the maps.

Keywords: Israel; Maps; image; narrative; religions; semiotics; the Holy Land

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel., Email: 2: Department of Geography, University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel., Email:

Publication date: February 1, 2005

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