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Middle East history: Art & Images

A subject guide proposing resources, archival materials, and primary sources for the history of the Middle East

Digital collections

ARTstor is a digital Library of nearly one million images in the areas of art, architecture, the humanities and social sciences. To find images of the Middle-East, browse by geographical area.

  • Description de l'Égypte ; ou, Recueil des observations et des recherches qui ont été faites en Égypte pendant l'éxpédition de L'armée française, 1798-1801.

Description de l'Egypte was the outcome of the collaboration of more than 150 prominent scholars and scientists who accompanied Napoleon in 1798, and some 2000 talented artists and technicians, who, for over 20 years, systematically examined almost every aspect of contemporary and ancient Egyptian civilization, producing 20 volumes of text and plates of unmatched accuracy and detail. Historically, these engravings became the most comprehensive record and inventory of Egypt’s land and monuments. This valuable collection containing images related to antiquities, natural history, and the modern states of Egypt has been fully digitized and integrated on a virtual browser with the objective of preserving it and making it publicly accessible by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection is a rich 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 collection consists of over 22,000 glass and film photographic negatives and transparencies created by the American Colony Photo Department and its successor firm, the Matson Photo Service. Over 1,000 photographic prints and eleven albums are also part of this collection. Digital images for the negatives and transparencies and a sample of the photographs are available online.

This digital collection gives access to several thousand prints and photographs contained in works from the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century. These include books illustrated with prints or photographs, photograph albums, and archival compilations; the processes represented range from engravings to lithographs, and from salt prints to heliogravures.

Web-based archives that displays a broad range of Palestine posters in a searchable format with each poster translated and interpreted. Titles included are from the Liberation Graphics collection, the Library of Congress, the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem, the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam, Yale University, the University of Chicago and a host of other sources. Currently, archives contains 5593 posters and 1237 artists

This University of Texas at Austin Libraries website offers access to a great number of their historical maps  which have been digitized. It also provides a lengthy list of links to some other historical maps websites. Both their digital collection of historical maps and the list of websites can be browsed by geographic region (Africa / Middle East).

The archive consists of images and films taken by UNRWA photographers (and their predecessors) throughout the tumultuous second half of the twentieth century and start of the twenty-first. It includes iconic images of Palestinians having to leave their homes, in 1948; the establishment of refugee camps, in the 1950s; the second flight, in 1967; the hostilities in Lebanon; and the unrest from the second half of the 1980s to the early twenty-first century.

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