The Collections of the Institute of Archaeology were established in the early days of the Hebrew University for study purposes. They include pottery vessels from various periods and places, stone tools, glassware, ancient weapons, dozens of inscribed cuneiform clay tablets, Egyptian vessels, Hebrew seals from the period of the Judean Monarchy, jewelry, ancient coins, with an emphasis on Jewish numismatics (the largest such collection in Israel), and an extensive ethnographic collection.
The core of the Collections, which comprises about 30,000 objects, many of them were added through acquisitions in the early days and donations bequeathed to the Hebrew University through the efforts of the late Profs. E. L. Sukenik and B. Mazar. In addition, thousands of artifacts have been added as a result of the Institute’s excavations throughout the land of Israel.
With the founding of the Museum for Jewish Antiquities by the late Prof. E. L. Sukenik, in 1941 the collections found a home on Mount Scopus. Nevertheless, following the War of Independence in 1948, Mount Scopus became an Israeli enclave in Jordanian territory, causing academic activity to cease on the University's campus. After the Six-Day War in 1967 the Institute collections were returned to the original place.
The Collections fulfill both research and teaching functions. Researchers from Israel and abroad are welcome to examine the objects, which have consequently achieved worldwide renown in academic publications. Many of the artifacts are available to the Institute’s students, enabling them to achieve “hands-on” familiarity with flint tools, pottery vessels, glassware, ancient oil lamps, and coins.
The Collection Room opens its doors to varied activities for the public, such as, guided tours within "Open House Jerusalem" events, advanced study day for tour guides, school visits and groups guided tours.