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The Survey of Palestine Under the British Mandate, 1920-1948

By Dov Gavish

This book, which is sponsored by the PEF, is a historical study of the survey and mapping system of Palestine under the British Mandate. It traces the background and the reasoning behind the establishment of this survey project, examines the foundations of this enterprise, and attempts to understand the motivation of those who carried it out. The author, Dr. Dov Gavish, is an expert on Cartographic History at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Triangulation by Gavish

Measurement taken from point 2M of the Palestine Major triangulation base line, Imara lands 1925 (Source: J.H. Mankin photo collection in PEF Archives, London)


Triangulation system map
The Major Triangulation system in Palestine at the end of World War II, 31 December 1946 (Source: Pal. Govt., Annual Reports of Director of Surveys, 1940-1946, Map 3)

Dr. Gavish shows that the survey system under the British Mandate was established with the objective of surveying and mapping Palestine, as demanded by the Zionist Organisation, in order to implement legally binding land settlement and registration of tenure rights and to establish the distribution of land ownership. The land issue was at the core concern of the mapping activity, and it remains as a core issue at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Leveling survey in the Kabara swamps, 1925 (Source: Photo by Z. Oron-Oroshkes, CZA Subjects/102)


School for Arab surveyors at Nazareth, 1945 (Source: J. Loxton, Taunton, England)

This study will be of interest to historians of cartography and land surveys, historians of the British mandate period, the Arab-Israel conflict, experts in Land Law, and those of British colonial administration. With the material being presented in an accessible form, with basic concepts clearly explained, Dr. Gavish's book should also appeal to students of historical geography, cartography, and political science. It is published by Routledge Curzon, under the aegis of the PEF.

Base lines of two triangulation nets in the lands of Samakh, Deganya A and Deganya B, 22 December 1924 (Source: Field Book of J.H. Mankin, 24 December 1924, Letter T/4/184, SoI/C/14, Tel Aviv)


1:2,000 Map of Jerusalem, section of Sheet VII-D (Source: ML, Jerusalem)

To see the maps mentioned in the text in colour, and download them, go to:


Pricing and Publication Details

Price for non-members: £60.00
Price for PEF members: £50.00 (all profits donated to the PEF)

Publisher: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005
Details: 264 pages, hardback
ISBN-10: 0714656518
ISBN-13: 978-0714656519
Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.8 x 2.5cm

Ordering Information

Please contact:

The Financial Assistant
Palestine Exploration Fund
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Tel: +44-(0)20-7935-5379
Fax: +44-(0)120-7486-7438


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