Bath and Bristol churches on hunt for stone Palestine map

Stone map of Palestine Created for the Empire Exhibition in 1924 it disappeared a year later

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Churches in Bath and Bristol are being asked to search graveyards for a missing two-tonne stone Palestine map.

The map was carved for the 1924 Empire Exhibition at Wembley Stadium but is thought to have been sold at the end of the event to pay off a £1.5m debt.

It later appeared in an exhibition that toured Bristol and Bath in the 1920s.

Michael Gottschalk, 77, a retired mechanical engineer who lives in Jerusalem, has spent the last three months trying to find the map.

'Remarkable work'

He started investigating the mystery after being asked for help by a colleague after the Jerusalem Post was approached by the sculptor's daughter, Henya Alperen.

Ms Alperen, who is 80 and unwell, wants to find out what happened to her father's work before she dies.

"It was carried by train to Bath and then to Bristol and vanished in 1925," said Mr Gottschalk.

"It's about the size of a large bed - it's about two metres long and about one metre across and about a quarter of a metre thick.

"It was so accurate at the time that when you spilt water on it the rivers used to fill up with water and would fill the lake of Galilee and the Dead Sea - it was a remarkable piece of work".

Start Quote

So far, I've come out with nothing but as so many people saw the map we're hopeful”

End Quote Michael Gottschalk

The relief map was created by sculptor Elad Alperen in Jerusalem in 1923 and shipped to England for the British Empire Exhibition of Arts and Manufacturing.

The exhibition, which showcased everything the countries of the Empire could offer, was opened by Edward VIII.

'Only have pictures'

But despite being seen by thousands of visitors, the huge stone carving disappeared a year later and has not been seen since.

At the end of the exhibition at Wembley Park, the map is thought to have been sold along with a number of other exhibits.

It also appears to have been one of the attractions - listed as a "raised map of Palestine" - in an exhibition in Bath the following year before "vanishing".

"We have very little information because the family, which was poor at the time, could not travel to England and all that we have are two pictures," added Mr Gottschalk, who recently found two Italian submariners that had been lost for 26 years.

"But I've been writing and corresponding with all the churches around Bath and around Bristol.

"So far, I've come out with nothing but as so many people saw the map we're hopeful."

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