Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society
ANGLO-ISRAEL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
ANGLO-ISRAEL ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY , founded in 1961 by Alec Lerner, Leon Shalit (at that time both on the staff of Marks and Spencer), and Richard Barnett, who was Keeper of Western Asiatic Antiquities at the British Museum. It is likely that they were influenced by both positive and negative considerations.
Positively, there was much popular interest at the time in what has often been called "Biblical Archaeology," and this same group had already been active in seeking to gain material support for excavations in Israel. During 1961–62, Yigal *Yadin was spending a year in London. In preparing for his excavations at *Masada, where the system of using volunteer labor was first introduced, he was in close touch with his three friends about the logistical problems involved. It is thus no surprise that he should have given the Society's inaugural lecture in November 1961 to an audience of some 700.
Negatively, it is likely that Barnett, who was also involved with the much older *Palestine Exploration Fund, was disappointed at the lack of interest being shown in academic circles in the work specifically of Israeli archaeologists and that he was anxious to foster a greater exchange of ideas and the dissemination of the important work that they were doing.
All these concerns led to the formulation of the main aims of the Society, which have continued to the present, namely public lectures (about ten per annum) on the archaeology of Israel and surrounding countries, and the support by grants of students going to join excavations in Israel and similar projects or of Israeli students who need to visit Britain for archaeological research. In recent years, these aims have been further developed by the introduction of museum visits, the provision of lectures in Manchester as well as London, joint lectures with other societies (including the pef) and in particular by the publication of an annual Bulletin which, under the editorship of Shimon Gibson, has become established as a mainstream academic journal for archaeological and related research as well as continuing to provide summaries of the society's activities and lectures.
The society has had three chairman in its 25-year history; Barnett himself, who steered it with a very personal touch until 1985, then more briefly J.B. Segal, and since 1991 H.G.M. Williamson, who has sought to develop the role of the executive committee. Honorary presidents have been Lord Segal and currently Viscount Allenby of Megiddo, the great-nephew of the distinguished field marshal.
The charitable society has no religious or political affiliation, and its modest membership is open to all with an interest in the subjects it seeks to promote.
D. Barag, "In Memoriam R.D. Barnett," in: Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society, 5 (1985–86), 4–6; B. Barnett, "The Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society – Forty Years On," ibid., 18 (2000), 9–15. website : www.aias.org.uk.
[H.G.M. Williamson (2nd ed.)]