Historic Views of the Holy Land - the 1900s  
  Developer: Todd Bolen  
  Rub�n G�mez  
Overall Rating:  9.1
User Interface: Searching:
Ease of Use Features:
Help & Support: Modules:
Customization: Original Languages:
Speed: Price:

January 9, 2010

A review written by Rub�n G�mez, Bible software translator and beta tester. Copyright � 2010 by the author. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce any part of this document without obtaining permission from the author.


It's Monday and we are visiting the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. The guide is from the States, so I am happy to translate for him as he tells our small Spanish-speaking group about the Skull Hill. Right behind the two of us everybody can actually see what it looks like now, but the bus station and the busy Nablus Road street next to it have modified the environs considerably, and the "mouth" is not visible anymore, since the floor level has risen quite a bit. To help us visualize the original "skull" we have to use an old photograph (just to my right in the picture below).

Skull Hill as seen from the Garden Tomb (August 2009).

Once the tour is over, we stop by the bookstore and I decide to buy an interesting book called "Israel Then & Now," which includes many pictures of different sites all over Israel and reconstructions of what those sites are supposed to have looked like originally. The reconstructions are like overhead projector sheets (transparencies) that can be used as image overlays. This is very helpful, since our trip is nearing the end and sometimes it is hard to imagine what everything we've seen so far was like in biblical times. I think to myself, "This will become handy as I process all the information we've been exposed to these past few days, and as I try to share some of the shots I've taken with other people back home."

Now, the two preceding paragraphs are not only an actual depiction of one of the episodes of my recent trip to Israel, but probably a small sample of what many people who visit the Holy Land might have felt like at one time or another. Yes, you get to see many fascinating places there, but quite frequently with the passage of time and the building activity carried out over the years, any resemblance with the original sites is almost totally lost.

Fortunately, there is still hope. The 8 volumes of the The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection include thousands of pictures dating back to the 1900s. While not exactly taking you back to biblical times, this 2-DVD set, comprising more than 4,000 photos, does allow you to compare the "Now" with the "Then." Granted, not the original "then," but nonetheless a scenery that resembles much more closely what we now know as the Land of the Bible. And, going back to my original example of the Skull Hill, wouldn't it have been great to see a picture of the area, say, from a hundred years or so back? Well, here you have it:

General view of the Skull Hill area that General Charles Gordon identified with the Golgotha of New Testament times. The picture was taken sometime between 1898 and 1914.

This collection, produced by Todd Bolen of BiblePlaces.com fame, is a real treasure available from Life in the Holy Land for only $99 (with free shipping in the US).


General Features

As I said in my previous review of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands, this series of photographs offer an outstanding quality at a superb value, and they are great for classroom use.

Photographs can be viewed directly in a web browser, or using one of the many image viewers available for the different platforms (Linux, Mac or Windows). But the recommended way, and I agree wholeheartedly, is to make use of the PowerPoint files. These are really excellent, and include extensive notes and quotes that give a much more meaningful context to the pictures.

Now, do not be fooled by the description "PowerPoint files." We could as easily describe them as "Keynote files." In fact, Apple's Keynote opens the .ppt files seamlessly, and even lets you spice up the presentations a bit. Presenter notes are also imported, so you will not lose one bit of information.

Opening PowerPoint slides in Apple's Keynote.

As I always do in these cases, I also imported all the high-res jpeg images into my iPhoto Library so that I could use them on different projects involving any of the iLife or iWork suites. Macs really excel in this area. So you can pretty much do anything you like with the photos, both for personal enjoyment and as a powerful teaching aid.

One of the nice bonuses of the set is that on the second DVD there are two excellent sections on "Traditional Life" and "People." You may feel tempted to use them as illustrations for your next sermon or class.

Last, but not least, this collection is also very useful for watching or showing pictures of places that cannot be visited today due to political instability in the area. Thus, not being a Muslim I was not able to see the interior of the Dome of the Rock during my visit to the Temple Mount. Never mind, The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection came to the rescue!

The actual "Rock" inside the Dome of the Rock. Photograph shot between 1898 and 1946.
The corresponding PowerPoint file is filled with interesting notes dealing with historic and traditional details.


I cannot overemphasize what a great deal The American Colony and Eric Matson Collection is. And if you happen to teach the Bible, you will find numerous illustrations that will take your teaching to a new level. The pictures, the people depicted, the atmosphere that surrounds them, the interesting and well-researched notes, all add to a truly valuable learning experience. Get this set and see for yourself what the Land of the Bible looked like. You will not be disappointed.

After having visited Israel just a few months ago (and taken a good number of pictures and personal notes!), this DVD set helped me appreciate even more some of the many details this fascinating land has to offer. 


Excellent, high quality photographs and notes
Ease of use and flexibility
Comprehensive coverage of the Geography, life and peoples of the Holy Land


To be quite honest, none that I can think of...Well, okay, don't keep putting off your trip to Israel. It is even better in person ;-)

Copyright © 2004-2016 Bible Software Review
Best viewed at 1024 x 768 or above
All Rights Reserved.
designed by KMD
Last updated: 01/02/2010
David Weber, Gilt-Brass and Silver Table Clock with Astronomical and Calendrical Dials cartier watch replikas fake watches would immediately help you in boosting up your natural looks. These figures speak for themselves, so I do not need to make any comment here. Swiss Replica Watches OH MY GOD EVERY PROTESTOR IN THIS EPISODE IS FROM MY CITY MAKE IT STOP. recession. It definitely pays to be a heavy equipment operator and the students Patek Philippe Replica watches conditions, most television is probably neither particularly harmful nor Well we will not either rewrite history, and now were going to look at the watch audemars piguet tourbillon chronograph replica that tells time. A classic men's watch, around that time, used to have a