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New Feature: Photos of Bible Places

Browse 9,500 photos taken near 580 biblical locations. For example: Beersheba, Capernaum, and Ur.

More examples:

See this aqueduct on Flickr
Aqueduct at Caesarea by hoyasmeg

See these gates on Flickr
Gates at Dan by callmetim

See these rooftops on Flickr
Rooftops at Babylon by labanex


Photo-sharing site Flickr has an API that lets you find photographs by latitude and longitude. The Bible Geocoding section of this site has lots of data arranged by latitude and longitude. Why not use the Flickr API to find photos that people have taken near places in the Bible?

The resulting photos are of varying quality for getting an idea of what a place looks like. Remember, people didn’t necessarily take these photos with the intent of giving you an overview of the landscape. The photos reflect personal interests—maybe someone saw an interesting flower that just happens to be near a biblical landmark. So don’t expect every photo to be relevant or every place to have lots of photos.

Technical Notes

Every night, a program on this server queries the Flickr API to find any new photos taken near the biblical locations. Then it saves these photos to a database, indexed by location for easy retrieval.

The program treats copyrighted and Creative-Commons-licensed photos the same way— thumbnails are OK for copyrighted photos. In the future, I may feature CC-licensed photos more prominently. Only about 2,000 of the 9,500 photos are CC-licensed.

Future Directions

Right now, you can only get to the photos by browsing them by place. I hope to integrate the photos into the Bible atlas somehow.

I’d also like to let people vote on helpful or unhelpful photos to better prioritize the photos.

It may be possible to use Flickr tags to find non-geocoded photos of Bible places, but I’m not sure how to perform such a task automatically. I’m certainly open to suggestions.

What You Can Do with the Photos

I don’t own the photos; the photographers do. If you want to use a photo for something, click on it to go to its Flickr page. Then check its licensing terms. If it’s copyrighted, you need to secure permission from the photographer before you use it. If it has a Creative Commons license, you have more freedom to use the photos, depending on the terms of the license.

I recommend Todd Bolen’s for professional-quality, affordable photos of places in the Holy Land, especially Israel. His photos give you lots of perspectives and work especially well for presentations. Compare Todd’s photos of Engedi to OpenBible’s photos of Engedi, for example, to see how his photos help connect you to the biblical narrative.

2 Responses to “New Feature: Photos of Bible Places”

  1. Sean says:

    For reasons i don’t fully understand (but maybe you do), my Firefox rendering of these pages doesn’t include the photos, but the IE version does. At first i was just scratching my head: what photos? Then i looked in IE and saw them. No obvious clues in the source view, but maybe there’s some browser-specif difference in how the pages are rendered?

    Just FYI (i know how to find them now).

  2. S.Amburose says:

    I’m very happy to see the Biblical places.