Mystery Photo from Ottoman Archives

November 18, 2015  

Mystery about this Picture Deepens. Ottoman Imperial Archives Is also Mistaken

Two years ago we published the Library of Congress photo below and the caption identifying it as a “Turkish procession,” taken sometime between 1898 and 1918.

Caption 1. “Turkish procession,” dated between 1898 and 1918 (Library of Congress)

Caption 2. “Ottoman Palestine in World War I (1914-1917)” (Facebook, Ottoman Imperial Archives)

Caption 3.“Ottoman Palestine, Ottoman Soldiers” (Flickr, Ottoman Imperial Archives)

With the recent Online posting of pictures from the Ottoman Imperial Archives — including this photograph — we hoped that we could get some answers to the “who, what, where” questions. 

The mystery only got deeper.  

The procession is not Turkish and these are not Ottoman soldiers.

The people in the procession are most definitely Jews — Sephardic, Haredim, and modern.  

The procession is not in Ottoman Palestine or dated between 1914-1917 or 1918.

The presence of at least one British soldier means that the photograph was taken after 1918 — after the British captured Jerusalem in December 1917.  

The day was not a major Jewish holiday or Shabbat — 

Some people were riding on horses or wagons, nor were the men wearing their Shabbat finery.

Perhaps they were going to or coming from a funeral — 

There are very few women in the picture, in keeping with a Jerusalem custom at the time of women not attending funerals.

The picture contains 2 signs, including a sign post that could suggest where it was taken, but our graphics programs could not decipher the signs.

View some of the details from the photograph:

Jews in the procession

A British soldier


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