Views of an Antique Land: Imaging Egypt and Palestine in the First World War

Paul Nicholson, Steve Mills, and Hilary Rees

The Views of Antique Land Project has collected images of Egypt and Palestine taken during the First World War. The images are largely unpublished photographs taken by service personnel during the war and made generously available to the project via members of the public who came along to a series of roadshows held in various localities in England and Wales. We were particularly keen to document views of archaeological sites, but rapidly realised that the project could offer a great deal of information on the changing landscape of Egypt and Palestine as well as providing a valuable photographic record of the conflict which was not adequately covered by official War Office photographers.

Because much of the commemoration of the First World War has focussed on the Western Front and so given the impression that the war was entirely one of mud and trenches with very little movement our project has tried to give a more balanced view. The war in Egypt and Palestine was much more mobile and often fast moving, it was also fought in hot and dry conditions and posed a whole range of challenges to those who fought there.

It is also a surprise to many that such a great number of personnel did actually serve in Egypt and Palestine at some point during the war with units regularly being withdrawn from the Western Front to serve in the area before returning to Europe later on. Egypt also served as a staging post for the Dardanelles -Gallipoli- Campaign, and Thessalonika.

It is hoped that the images will serve as an archive to permanently commemorate those who served in this theatre. They also help to build a picture of the landscapes of Egypt and Palestine at the time and can show how the towns, cities and archaeological sites have been altered over the years since the war. In this way they will be of interest to those who wish to learn more about their ancestors and to historians, archaeologists, teachers and others.

Take a scroll through our slideshow above to see some of the photos!

An interactive website is in the process of redevelopment, but meanwhile we have uploaded two films which are available at:

https://vimeo.com/channels/viewsofanantiqueland

 and we also have facebook and twitter sites at:

www.facebook.com/ww1imagesegypt

Twitter: @ww1imagesegypt

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