Monday, May 20, 2013

Mystery Picture -- Where Was This Picture Taken?
A Satellite Photo Helped Find the Location

Is this Kibbutz Tel Yosef? Photo from the "Cigarbox Collection" of Dr.Othniel Seidon 

The composition of this photo is striking -- a new Jewish settlement at the foot of a mountain ridge and at the bottom of a gorge.  On the back someone wrote "Tel Yosef 1921," apparently the year, the only date found on a photo in the Seidon collection.  The kibbutz was named after Yosef Trumpeldor, a Jewish Zionist hero who died defending the Tel Hai settlement in 1920.

The photo is an enigma.  Tel Yosef is located in the Jezreel Valley in northern Israel, not located at the base of mountain.  Research into Tel Yosef's history uncovered that the kibbutz was located a few kilometers away in its first years, and was located where Kibbutz Ein Harod is located today.  But it too was not at the foot of a mountain.
Beit Alpha at the foot of the Gilboa Mountains. Note the
gorge (Google Earth)

Modern technology helped us locate the chalutzim's (pioneers) settlement 90 years ago. 

A Google Earth search of the Jezreel-Gilboa area quickly found a possible location of the mystery picture -- the Kibbutz of Beit Alpha. The settlement at the foot of the mountain and the gorge appear identical.

We checked Beit Alpha's history and photo archives and confirmed that the Cigar Collection photo was Beit Alpha and not Tel Yosef.  The picture below shows the same tents and buildings.

From Beit Alpha's archives. Note the same tents and cabins as the photo on top

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