Looking down pilgrim's steps, Mt. Sinai
Title from negative sleeve.
Photograph taken from Siqqat Sydina Musa along the Byzantine monastic and pilgrimage naqb to the summit of Mount Sinai (Biblical Sinai) between the lower (St. Stephen) and upper stone gates, looking northeast and showing the vicinity of Wadi Sdud and the eastern section of the ring dyke of the High Mountains of Sinai Peninsula in the background form a 6.5km distance, and St. Stephen's Gate (Forgiveness, Shrive Gate or lower gate) in the foreground. (Source: A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
Siqqat Sydina Musa is recognised as the traditional naqb followed by prophet Moses to the summit of Biblical Mount Sinai. The monks paved the path using 3,750 rock steps from Saint Catherine Monastery to the summit in 4th-7th centuries CE, in addition to mountain chapels and Byzantine monastic structures scattered across the valley and on the plateau of Biblical Mount Horeb and Mount Sinai, including ruined buildings (dwellings), hermit cells, prayer niches, rock-paved paths, rock inscriptions and agricultural plots (water dams, reservoirs & cisterns, conduits and retaining walls). The Byzantine monks, pilgrims and travellers (and later tourists) traversed the same route in the footsteps of Moses to the summit of Mount Sinai since 4th century CE, until the construction of Siqqat Abbas Basha in 1853-54 CE, by Abbas Helmi I the Khedive of Egypt (1849-54). Archbishop Porphyrios II (1904-1926) restored the steps in 1905 CE. Several ancient monastic and pilgrimage routes lead to the plateau. St. Stephen (6th century CE) whose dressed skeleton is preserved in the "Ossuary or bone-house" under the chapel of St. Tryphon at the monastery's orchard, and the following monks, sat by the gate and shrived the pilgrims prior their arrival to the holy summit. (Source: A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
Taken either by the American Colony Photo Department or its successor, the Matson Photo Service.
Guide card: Sinai.
Gift; Episcopal Home; 1978.
The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection is a source of historical images of the Middle East. The majority of the images depict Palestine (present-day Israel and the West Bank) from 1898 to 1946. Most of the Library of Congress collection consists of over 23,000 glass and film photographic negatives and transparencies created by the American Colony Photo Department and its successor firm, the Matson Photo Service. The American Colony Photo Department in Jerusalem was one of several photo services operating in the Middle East before 1900. Catering primarily to the tourist trade, the American Colony and its competitors photographed holy sites, often including costumed actors recreating Biblical scenes. The firm’s photographers were residents of Palestine with knowledge of the land and people that gave them an advantage and made their coverage intimate and comprehensive. They documented Middle East culture, history, and political events from before World War I through the collapse of Ottoman rule, the British Mandate period, World War II, and the emergence of the State of Israel. The Matson Collection also includes images of people and locations in present-day Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Turkey. Additionally, the firm produced photographs from an East African trip. The collection came to the Library of Congress between 1966 and 1981, through a series of gifts made by Eric Matson and his beneficiary, the Home for the Aged of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the Diocese of Los Angeles (now called the Kensington Episcopal Home).