BIBLE HISTORY DAILY

Celebrating the Life of Emanuel Hausman, Founder of Carta Jerusalem

Emanuel Hausman (1923–2022)

Emanuel Hausman.
Photo Courtesy of Shay Hausman.

Emanuel Hausman (z”l) passed away in Jerusalem on January 18, 2022, two weeks before his 99th birthday. Although many Biblical Archaeology Review readers may not be familiar with his name, they doubtless are the beneficiaries of his life’s work through the publishing house Carta Jerusalem. Hausman was a pioneer in the geographical-historical-archaeological cartography of the land of Israel.

He was born Emanuel Gvirtz in Sanok, Poland, on January 31, 1923, but he spent most of his childhood in Berlin, where his father, Dr. Shalom Yehuda, worked as a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Berlin. With the outbreak of unbridled anti-Semitism, his parents decided to send their only son to British Mandate Palestine. At that time, Jewish immigration was illegal, and upon arrival he was transferred to the Atlit detention camp. Afterwards he was transferred to the British detention camp on the island of Mauritius.

Hausman had a talent and fondness for languages, versed in Latin and English, in addition to German, his mother tongue. This afforded him some opportunities as the interpreter and coordinator between the British camp headquarters and the detainees, most of whom spoke German. In 1941, it was announced to those held in detention that natives of Poland who were willing to enlist in the Polish army would be immediately released and immigrated to Israel to participate in the war in Europe.

Arriving in Rehovot in Israel, Hausman and others were picked up by the Jewish Agency officials and scattered among communities around the country. He decided to disappear into obscurity by changing his name to Emanuel Hausman, his grandmother’s maiden name, and removing his obligation to conscription in the Polish army.

Toward the end of the war, he enlisted in the British Mapping Unit, and was sent to Egypt and Italy where he met his wife Sarah née Leyer, who served as a nurse in the British army. They returned to Israel in 1946, and Hausman enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in which he was one of the founders of the IDF military mapping service. He was released from the IDF in 1950 and began his civilian life.

At this time, the variety of maps for civilian use in the country was quite meager. In 1958, Hausman and his late partner Amnon Superman founded the Carta Company, which provided mapping and photogrammetry services (measurements and mapping using aerial photographs) to various institutions. In 1960, a groundbreaking and innovative idea matured in the mind of Hausman, which was to prove particularly successful: to map the land of Israel, its sites, settlements, and roads, and to gather all the information into one guide, bound as a book. The result was the Carta Guide to the Roads of Israel, first published in 1962. It was not just an atlas in the conventional sense of the word—maps of geographical areas bound together—but a complete guide to knowing the land.

Encouraged by the success of combining maps and written information, and by the enthusiasm of the readers for this innovative concept, Hausman further perfected the idea and its development: The Carta Atlas of the Biblical Period (1964). To accomplish his aim, he turned to Yohanan Aharoni, one of the most prominent and promising archaeologists in Israel at the time, to serve as the editor. It would become the most widely published biblical atlas ever sold.

The atlas was a fulfillment of Hausman’s dream. For the first time, the fullness of the biblical story could be presented, in a variety of enlightening, clear, and understandable maps for all thanks to two unique developments. First, he developed a legend that was a striking cartographic innovation depicting battles and historical developments and different from the military tactical symbols on which previous maps had been based. Second, it was decided for the first time to attempt a combination of short and concise pieces of text located on the map itself. These would accompany the events that were graphically detailed on the maps.

Thanks to these innovations, the maps in the atlas became accessible and clear at all levels of study: students, teachers, lecturers, and researchers. The biblical story was no longer a text subject to oral memorization, but a clear, fascinating, and exciting picture, encouraging further study, and leading to deeper understanding. The maps in this atlas, which provided a full and detailed description of the events in the biblical period, were what enabled a greater understanding of complex developments and their organization into a chronological sequence, and from which a clear and vivid picture of the biblical period emerged. In this way, the most important goal of all was achieved: understanding the biblical story and its various events within the physical setting of the land of Israel.

The atlas for the first time linked the biblical story with the archaeology, history, and the geography of the land of Israel in a clear and unambiguous way. The reader of the atlas could be impressed by where the events took place, who took part in them, and what biblical name was associated with which modern site. The layout of the biblical story across the maps, reflecting the most up-to-date archaeological research, made it possible to link all the sites and places mentioned in the Bible—actual sites that could be traced through the length and breadth of the land.

With endless patience and hard work, Hausman promoted the atlas through every possible avenue. After a short while it became an important reference in hundreds of textbooks and thousands of articles dealing with the period. Eventually, the atlas would be translated into many foreign languages, including English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian, Japanese, Korean, and Afrikaans.

The Carta Atlas of the Biblical Period was the first in a series of atlases to follow for four decades, all which described the history of the people of Israel, the land of Israel, and the State of Israel. Accordingly, Carta gained a prominent status and reputation in the field of cartographic innovation in Israel and abroad.

Hausman’s engaging personality allowed him to work alongside some of Israel’s greatest scholars. They gladly accepted his proposals to take part in the creation of many more atlases and books on the land of Israel. Since its beginning, there has been no other historical cartographic enterprise like it.

He was a visionary figure who continued to come to work, even after the age of 90, every day to a carefully maintained office, in a suit and tie, which illustrated the great respect he felt for his work. May his memory continue to be a blessing for all those who have been touched by his work and life.


R. Steven Notley is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins and the Director of the Graduate Program in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins at Nyack College in New York City. He also co-directs the El Araj Excavation Project.

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1 Responses

  1. Dennis B. Swaney says:

    Thank you, Mr. Hausmann for your wonderful publications. Rest in Peace.

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1 Responses

  1. Dennis B. Swaney says:

    Thank you, Mr. Hausmann for your wonderful publications. Rest in Peace.

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