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To Sinai via the Red Sea, Tor, and Wady Hebran. Almond tree in blossom Monastery of St. Catherine


To Sinai via the Red Sea, Tor, and Wady Hebran. Almond tree in blossom Monastery of St. Catherine



Title from: Catalogue of photographs & lantern slides ... [1936?].
Caption on negative: Almond tree in blossom.
Identified as the Monastery of St. Catherine based on captions for negatives with neighboring numbers.
Date from Matson LOT cards.
Photograph taken from the orchard of Saint Catherine Monastery at the lower north terrace in Wadi El Dier (Biblical Holy Valley), looking northeast and showing the terraces of the almond trees in the foreground and the southern slopes of Gebel El Dier (Selieb-Baraka) and Gebel Meraja in the background. (A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
Saint Catherine Monastery was constructed in 545 CE by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (527-565 CE). The Byzantine monastic settlements practiced mountain agriculture. A single settlement was or a cluster of settlements were composed of buildings (dwellings), hermit cells, prayer niches, rock-paved paths and agricultural plots (water dams & wells, reservoirs, conduits and retaining walls). The water structures were used (and still) in harvesting runoff water (rain and snow) from the slopes of the surrounding mountains to irrigate the orchards and agriculture plots. The climate of the High Mountains of Sinai Peninsula allowed the monks and later Bedouins of the Gebaliya tribe to grow: apricots (first half of June), apples (end of June), peaches and figs (early July), early grapes (mid July), figs, plums and grapes (end of July - early August), almonds, pomegranates and apples (August), pears (end of August), quince (September), red grapes and winter apples (October), and winter pears (end of October and early November). There are 632 re-used or new mountain orchards, where many of Byzantine origin, and 361 agricultural plots across the mountain range. The orchards of Saint Catherine Monastery and its peripheries El Arba'ein (The Forty Martyrs or Arseluas), Cosmos and Damian (Raheb) and El Bustan (Virgin Mary or Theotkos) monasteries have the largest orchards. The latter three are dominated by olive groves, e.g. 700 olive trees in El Arba'ein in 1816 CE. There were three water wells and three springs in the orchard of Saint Catherine Monastery in early 20th century CE, where an underground tunnel connects the orchard with the monastery. (Source: A. Shams, Sinai Peninsula Research, 2018)
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).







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