The Human Shape of the Holy Land

Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Dead Sea

By: Avinoam Amizan


The Human shape of the Holy Land is the idea that there is a connection between the landscapes of the land of Israel to the anatomy of the human body. The human organs are parallel to the geographic regions.


The landscape has not exactly the human shape. A complicated transformation is needed for transferring the map into a portrait. It can be done according to the constant dialog between man and nature.


The Human Shape of the Holy Land

The Human Shape of the Holy Land


The map attraction is based on Anthropomorphism, which is the attribution of human characteristics to animals and inanimate. It is one of the commonest attributes of the human being. Thoughts about objects as expressing human features are very common. Anthropomorphism is very popular in literature, especially children books. The ancient religions dealt with divinities that possessed human properties, and even today it is very difficult for the ordinary man to imagine God without Anthropomorphism.


The map, thanks to its details, wholeness, and scale, explain the strong physical attachment to the Holy Land, which exist among believers from various religions, and is expressed in many literary works.


The map is daring and complex, but it was created as a personal act. It relies on the spirit's wish for amendment, a solution for chaotic reality. It was an insight, enlightenment, after thinking according to internal sensations and unclear thoughts in the mind'd edge.



One day, without thinking, I took a pencil and started to draw the number 10 in one stroke. I did it twice in a raw.


The number 10 twice in a raw in one stroke

The number 10 twice in a raw in one stroke


I noticed that the drawing looks like the River Jordan, Lake Kinneret and the Dead Sea on the Land of Israel map.


מפה אילמת של ארץ ישראל

A map of the Land of Israel


But the drawing looked also as the human profile. I recognized a brain line, an eye, a temple line and an ear.


The number 10 twice in a raw and the human profile

The number 10 twice in a raw and the human profile


I searched for anthropomorphism of other Geographic regions in the Land of Israel. The Galilee Mountains became the brain, Mount Carmel became the nose and Samaria region the cheek. Jerusalem was turned into the palate, the Negev region into the throat and so on, as can be seen in the picture below.


Early version of the Holy Land Map as a human Shape

Early version of the Holy Land Map as a human Shape


After finishing the face I thought that I have completed the task. The imagination had its own will. Eilat Bay became the human back line and Sinai Peninsula the torso's organs.


The Holy Land Map was created through a long empirical process. The landscape was examined by satellites photos and maps, in relation to human portraits and Anatomy models. Stories of the land, places names and other associations according to this concept, helped to complete the picture.


As aforesaid, the portrait is not a direct copy of the land form. When drawing the character straight according the lines of a satellite photo, the result resemble a fetus. Only a drawing with a free hand allows the creation of figure with clear humanity.



The work of art 'Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Death Sea' is a minimized anthropomorphism.


The images of Lake Kinneret as a source of life, and the Dead Sea as a place of death, are rooted deeply in the culture of Israel. The Mishna sages interpreted the name of the city of Tveria as: 'its view is good' [In Hebrew: Tveria – tova reiata]. In the Bible, the Dead Sea is the place of the city of Sdom, with its materialistic, sinful citizens.


In modern Israeli culture the poet Naomi Shemer sang about: "To sing is like being the Jordan River", and described the transformation path of the river from a sweet water lake to the salty Dead Sea, in association to man's life. A personification was created: The river and the two lakes received human attributes. The human being is also a story of light and life at the start, and a heavy matter and death at the end.


These dynamic literary images created naturally a stimulus for a matching formal image: When you look at Lake Kinneret on the map, it looks like an ancient human skull facing eastward. The Jordan River looks like a long, twisting spinal column, and the Dead Sea completes the scene as the body section. It is a flexible but reliable human shape.


This is the source of inspiration for the work of art that can be seen below. It is an abstract human figure, with a face, a neck, and a torso.


Its relative proportions resemble that of the parallel geographical regions.


Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Dead Sea


Work of art Description:

Type of work: sculpture

Year: 2003

Dimensions: height: 119 sm.   Length: 64 sm.   Width: 21 sm.   Weight: 8 kg.

Materials: concrete, iron, epoxy

All Rights Reserved

Copies in various sizes are for sale


The first impression created by this work is of a figure with a healing power, as is any personification. The second impression is of a frail and helpless human life. In spite of his strength, the human being is almost a helpless insect. He asks for attention, and at the same time learns his surrounding and become integrated.



The anthropomorphic image of the three water bodies has great value for the full map.


Just as the chicken is developed from an egg, the development of the human body is from basic organs.


The two comparisons of the Dead Sea - the lowest place on earth, to the body or ear, demonstrate it. In the fetus, the ears' bones finish their growth forever.


The human perception combines between an internal, simple, two dimensional sense of balance, and an external, complex, three dimensional attention.


Many Bible stories bridge over this gap between the internal and external. One of them is the story of Jacob's fight with the angel on the Jordan River pass, after which he was named Israel.


The Holy Land Map as a Human Shape is a portrait facing westward. The work of art: 'Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Dead Sea' is a figure facing eastward. The combination between the two creates the balance: A whole character with the ability to turn to any direction.


The Holy Land Map as a Human Shape
and the Work of Art: Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Dead Sea

The Holy Land Map as a Human Shape

and the Work of Art: Lake Kinneret, Jordan River, Dead Sea


Buy a copy of the map and the sculpture




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