chapter  2
Contested space, sacred space in the Holy Land
WithCourtney Luckhardt
Pages 37

No place in the early medieval world was more weighted with the multivalent associations of space and place than Jerusalem. The global connections between Jerusalem the real place, filled with a heterogeneous population of both locals and travelers, mirror the global connections between Jerusalem the heavenly city and the Christian faithful, seeking meaning in a holy geography of places and space. Visual depictions of space and mapmaking in the Middle Ages were relatively rare; it was more common to write a verbal description of a location or landed property than to depict it graphically. The hagiography of western travelers is an essential source for understanding this complicated sacred space, but to use hagiography well, the stories cannot simply be read by seeking a kernel of truth. Jerusalem as a pilgrim site connected to elite discourses about sacred space, in which hierarchy and power were central ways that people perceived and organized space.