Departments & Labs

Research and teaching at the Institute of Archaeology are organized into prehistoric, biblical and classical archaeology (with an additional sub-department in medieval Islamic archaeology), and Civilizations of the Ancient Near East.

Labratories involved in research and teaching at The Institute of Archaeology include Computational Archaeology, Restoration & Conservation, Archaeological Materials and Ancient Technologies, Zooarchaeology Lab and Collection (at the Givat Ram campus), and the newly founded Program for Experimetal Archaeology all contribute to an open and dynamic learning and research environment. 

 

Graphic documentation and photography units provide technical support for the Institute’s excavations and research projects.

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Departments

Laboratory for Archaeological Materials and Ancient Technologies

Recent years have seen a growing interest in the application of natural sciences in archaeology, based on the awareness that there is a wealth of data that cannot be seen by the naked eye that is extremely important and relevant for archaeological research. This is true for microscopic elements in archaeological field work, as well as for the microscopic dimension of finds made of various materials such as pottery, metal and glass. The laboratory was established in 2018 in order to allow analytic research of a wide range of ancient materials and technologies from different periods, beginning with prehistory and up until the Middle Ages.

The laboratory is equipped with analytical instruments that enable material identification, including an FTIR (Infra-red spectroscopy), XRF (X-ray analysis of elements) and an opticall microscope (which allows for metallurgic, petrographic and botanical research, among others). The laboratory also has advanced equipment for samples preparation, including an electric saw, and a high-performance polisher.

The laboratory is run by Dr. Naama Yahalom-Mack, an archaeometallurgist and senior lecturer in the Department of Biblical Archaeology, and is open to conduct a wide range of research with the cooperation of faculty, students and other researchers.

Prehistory

Our interest is human prehistory from the earliest occurrence of material culture in Africa over 2 million years until the shift to sedentary life and food production in the Levant some 10,000 years ago. The geographic perspective is global, with an emphasis on the Levant. Our core curriculum includes courses that focus on the variety of aspects involved in understanding the evolution of culture and cultural systems. These include, in addition to general introductory courses, advanced courses on Levantine prehistory, a hands-on course in lithic technology, prehistoric art, the evolution of complex societies, hunter-gatherer archaeology and ethnoarchaeology, hominin biological evolution and human osteology. In addition there are annual or semesterial elective monographs and courses on a variety of topics. A recent sample includes regional studies on the Lower Paleolithic in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic in Europe, the colonization of Australia and of the New World, the beginning of agriculture in North America, and monographs on style, decision making processes, diet, innovation and invention, human evolution, and many others. Some of these classes are open also to students from other departments in the Institute and in various faculties of the University.

Prehistory Department

Our interest is human prehistory from the earliest occurrence of material culture in Africa over 2 million years until the shift to sedentary life and food production in the Levant some 10,000 years ago. The geographic perspective is global, with an emphasis on the Levant. Our core curriculum includes courses that focus on the variety of aspects involved in understanding the evolution of culture and cultural systems. These include, in addition to general introductory courses, advanced courses on Levantine prehistory, a hands-on course in lithic technology, prehistoric art, the evolution of complex societies, hunter-gatherer archaeology and ethnoarchaeology, hominin biological evolution and human osteology. In addition there are annual or semesterial elective monographs and courses on a variety of topics. A recent sample includes regional studies on the Lower Paleolithic in Africa and the Middle Paleolithic in Europe, the colonization of Australia and of the New World, the beginning of agriculture in North America, and monographs on style, decision making processes, diet, innovation and invention, human evolution, and many others. Some of these classes are open also to students from other departments in the Institute and in various faculties of the University.

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Some of our teaching takes place in the field, in the form of intensive field courses dedicated to various issues and field excursions to key sites in Levantine and world prehistory, such as ‘Ubeidiya, Tabun and Qafzeh Caves, Eynan (Mallaha)Sha’ar Hagolan. Graduate studies are based on personally tailored academic programs. We encourage students to take courses outside the department in order to enrich their knowledge and to acquire additional intellectual tools.

The department includes four full-time teachers and two to three teaching assistants. Specialized courses are taught by additional outside teachers to make sure that we can offer courses on a large variety of subjects. There are opportunities for participating in excavations of various prehistoric periods. Department members are involved in research projects in Israel, the Georgian Republic and Ethiopia. Our graduate students (studying for their M.A. and Ph.D. degrees) are actively involved in these projects.

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The department holds a lithic study collection of several thousand pieces, mostly from the southern Levant but some also from Africa and Europe. The departmental collections include samples of lithics assemblages from major sites such as ‘Ubeidiya, Gesher Benot Ya‘aqov, Hayonim, Qafzeh, Kebara and Amud Caves, the Jordan Valley Epipaleolithic sites, Kefar HaHoresh. A faunal comparative collection and the archaeozoological assemblages from these sites are currently housed at the Department of Ecology, Systematics and Evolution National Natural History Collections of the Hebrew University, in the Giv‘at Ram campus of the Hebrew University.

> Department's Staff and Students

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Program for Experimental Archaeology

 

Experimental archaeology has increasingly become an important component of archaeological research.  By replicating ancient technologies such as ceramic production, flint knapping, bone carving, metal working and glassblowing, archaeologists gain important insights into how people made and used a variety of items in the past. This, in turn, opens a window to the technical traditions of ancient societies that reflect social, economic and cultural behaviors and organization.

A newly established Program for Experimental Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology was initiated with the cooperation of the CNRS in Paris and the French Cultural Center in Jerusalem, led by Dr. Valentine Roux, a world renown expert on ancient technologies. The goal of the program is to train students and other interested researchers to develop and conduct experimental protocols in order to answer archaeological questions. In addition, a structured program of advanced graduate studies in experimental archaeology is planned. A spacious room with facilities such as a potter’s kickwheel and an extensive technological study collection, is devoted to this purpose;  these facilities serve as the home for conducting experiments in a wide range of materials and technologies. The program operates in cooperation with other laboratories in the Institute of Archaeology, including the Laboratory for Archaeological Materials and Ancient Technologies, the Computerized Archaeology Laboratory, and the Conservation Laboratory, as well as with the Bezalel Academy of Art.  

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