The PEF’s Documentary and Map archives are a unique resource for scholars of diverse disciplines.

The archive is especially valuable to those conducting research on late 19th and early 20th century history and society, both in Britain and Palestine. It is also an important resource for those researching the people, landscape and resources of Palestine during this period.

Letter written by Kitchener to PEF Executive Secretary at the time, Besant. He discusses, amongst other things, his desire to facilitate future excavations at Jerusalem and a survey in the Hauran. Dated 29 March 1880. Click on the image for a closer look (PEF-DA-KIT-17).

The Documentary and Map archives comprise mainly of documents, letters, reports, plans and maps compiled by the explorers and scholars who worked for the PEF. These explorers include Charles Warren in Jerusalem and Palestine (1867–1870), Claude Conder and Horatio Kitchener on the Survey of Western Palestine (1872–1878), the Survey of Eastern Palestine (1880–81) and the Wady Arabah (1883–4), the excavations of Flinders Petrie and Frederick Jones Bliss at Tell el Hesi (1890–1892), the excavations of R.A.S. Macalister at Gezer (1902–06), Duncan Mackenzie’s excavations at Ain Shems-Beth Shemesh in 1910–1912, C. L. Woolley and T.E. Lawrence on the Wilderness of Zin Survey (1913–14), and many others.

The documents chart the history of PEF in the South Levant, shedding light on the explorers’ world in the final years of the Ottoman Empire. The correspondence between the PEF Offices in London and Claude Conder, the leader of the Survey of Western Palestine, are particularly illuminating and enjoyable to read. The trials and tribulations of exploration are often vividly conveyed, alongside more academic details of the work in hand.

Of particular interest are the original plans and drawings of the Haram al-Sharif and the Dome of the Rock made by disgraced Piedmontese officer Ermete Pierotti in 1861. Because of his official status as an employee of the Ottoman Government, Pierotti was able to gain special access to the Haram al Sharif (Temple Mount). His detailed plans added much information (and disinformation) about this site and its monuments available at the time, which included largely inaccurate snippets about the cisterns, water tanks and conduits on the Temple Mount itself.

A tracing by Claude Conder of Camp Ain Es Sultan. Dated 2nd December, 1873. Survey of Western Palestine. Click on the image for a closer look (PEF-M-WS-136).

Plan of the Temple Mount by Ermete Pierotti. Showing subterranean water channels and cisterns. 1862. Click on the image for a closer look (PEF-MAP-6:5 (33))

The PEF holds excavation archives from the Mandate Period, including the archives of Crowfoot and Kenyon from Samaria in the 1930s, John Garstang’s archives from Ashkelon in the 1920s and Jericho in the 1930s, and the archive of C.N. Johns including some of his material from the Citadel of Jerusalem excavations of the 1930s and 1940s. In addition, the PEF holds the archives of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem.

The letters and photographs of Olga Tufnell are also part of the PEF’s collections. Tufnell was an Englishwoman who worked as an archaeologist in Egypt and Palestine in the Mandate period and travelled widely within the East Mediterranean and Middle East. Her letters contrast with the academic and administrative archives of the British School, providing a personal and intimate view of her experiences in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s and in Yemen in the 1950s and 1960s.

More recent additions to the archives include the publication archive of the Mamluk and Ottoman Jerusalem volumes, and the recently donated archives of Iain Browning, covering his work on Petra, Palmyra and Jerash.

In addition, the PEF has a collection of printed maps of the Levant and the Near East from a variety of sources dating from the 18th century to the present.