From the beginning of modern archaeology many Jews have contributed to the work in all aspects of the field.
Classical archaeology developed mainly in the German-speaking parts of Europe, and by the time Jews in these areas were permitted to take up official positions – the middle of the 19th century – archaeology, and especially classical archaeology, had passed its formative stages. The first Jewish names connected with archaeology are those of Heinrich *Heydemann (1842–1895), who cataloged the collections in Naples and Athens, Otto *Hirschfeld (1843–1942), and Gustav Hirschfeld (1847–1895). All three were fellows of the Institute for Archaeological Correspondence in Rome, the most important of the international organizations established early in the 19th century for the scientific study of archaeology. Otto Hirschfeld was a favorite student of the great German historian and archaeologist Theodor Mommsen, and succeeded him as professor at Berlin University. Another, younger, student, the numismatist Behrendt Pick (1860–1940), was destined to hold a Swiss professorship once held by Mommsen, at Zurich University. Two other Jews were among the leading German classical archaeologists of this generation. They were A. Furtwaengler (1853–1907), an unrivaled expert on monuments, and W. Doerpfeld (1853–1940), a master of excavation techniques. Furtwaengler's work on the evaluation of Roman copies of lost masterpieces of Greek art was carried on by W. Klein (1850–1925), professor of archaeology at the University of Prague. He was one of the first men to attempt the reconstruction of the works of Attic vase painters and to identify individual artists among them.
Jews were prominent in the so-called "Vienna School," which established an aesthetic evaluation of archaeology based exclusively on art history. The two outstanding representatives of this school were both Jews: F. Wickhoff (1853–1909) and A. Riegl (1858–1905), who were jointly responsible for introducing a historical-cultural method of interpreting changes in style in various eras and cultures.
In a class by itself between art history and the study of antiquity is the school of the German art historian Aby *Warburg (1866–1929), who founded in Hamburg the Kulturgeschichtliche Bibliothek Warburg, now located in London. This devoted itself to research on the influence of antiquity on the art, culture, and religion of later civilizations, and is probably the most important and most original Jewish contribution to the understanding of the subject. Associated with this research were F. Saxl (1890–1948), the philosopher Ernst *Cassirer, and the art historian Erwin *Panofsky. Together they created a fascinating picture of the influence of classical antiquity on the Middle Ages and the modern age, especially the early Renaissance.
At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries there was an upsurge of archaeological activity, which began to look beyond the limits of Greece and Italy and expressed itself in excavation, collection, study, and writing. In this era there were many Jewish scholars of considerable stature who combined detailed knowledge with an understanding of the increasingly global character of their discipline. What until the outbreak of World War i in 1914 had tended to be a specifically Central European field lost its predominantly German character and became international. With the rise of Nazism and World War ii, archaeological research gravitated to Western and Northern Europe and the United States, and emigration, especially of Jewish scholars, accelerated this trend. Among those who left Germany were Erwin Panofsky; K. *Lehmann (1894–1960), who went from Heidelberg to New York University; G.M. *Hanfmann, who had only just completed his studies when he went to America in 1934; Berta Segall, a specialist on ancient jewelry; and two numismatists of international renown, W. Schwabacher, who settled in Sweden, and H. Cahn, who spent several years in Switzerland but eventually returned to Germany to teach at Heidelberg University.
Very few Jews had taken part in the 19th-century development of classical archaeology in Western and Northern Europe – mainly Britain, France, and Italy – but in Britain there were two outstanding men: Sir Charles Walston (1856–1927), who taught for many years at Cambridge University and directed the American School of Archaeology in Athens, and Charles Seltman (1886–1957), who also taught at Cambridge and was best known as a numismatist. France's most prominent Jewish classical archaeologist was also a numismatist, H. Cohen (1806–1880). Cohen, whose great work was a seven-volume manual of Roman coins of the Imperial period, became librarian of the Cabinet des Medailles in Paris. Two other great names in French archaeology are those of the *Reinach brothers, Solomon (1858–1932) and Theodore (1860–1928). Italy produced two important Jewish scholars: A. *della Seta (1879–1944), who directed the Italian School in Athens, and Doro *Levi (1898–1991), a specialist in ancient mythology and the history of religions, and one of the leading figures in contemporary classical archaeology.
Many of the prominent United States archaeologists were refugees from Nazi Europe; but there is a growing number of names to be added to the list of native-born Americans who were active in this discipline, such as Hetty *Goldman and Saul and Gladys Weinberg.
In the archaeology of Egypt and the Near East (i.e., Syria and Mesopotamia), Jewish scholars began to come to the fore around 1900, and often became leaders in this field. In Egyptology, distinguished names are those of Ludwig *Borchardt (1863–1938), who carried out the excavations at Tell el-Amarna and founded the German Institute of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, and Georg Steindorff (1861–1951), who for 40 years was the highly respected professor of Egyptology at the University of Leipzig, until the advent of the Nazis sent him to the United States to continue his work there. Two other leading German-Jewish figures in this sphere were W. Spiegelberg (1870–1930), an authority on demotic papyri; and Elise Jenny *Baumgartel (1892–1975), whose work on Egyptian prehistory came to full flower in England and the U.S.A. The most prominent Jewish scholar in the wide field of non-Egyptian archaeology of the Near East was Henri *Frankfurt (1897–1954), who concerned himself with the entire region – Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and Iran. Ernst *Herzfeld (1879–1948) worked in similar areas. As far as Mesopotamian studies are concerned, Samuel Noah *Kramer (1897–1990), an American of Russian origin, although strictly speaking a philologist, has his place in the context of archaeology because of his indispensable interpretations of Sumerian cuneiform texts. Prominent among the excavators of Mesopotamia was Pinchas Pierre *Delougaz (1901–1975), of the University of Chicago. A British Jew connected with the archaeology of this area, with a special interest in the Nimrud ivories, was Richard David *Barnett (1909–1986), keeper of the Western Asiatic antiquities at the British Museum from 1955 to 1974. Barnett was also the founder of the London-based Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society in 1961. Other distinguished Jewish scholars have been the American, Cyrus H. Gordon (1908–2001), who made an important contribution to the interpretation of Canaanite-Ugaritic mythology and religion, and Max Freiherr von Oppenheim (1860–1946), who excavated Tel Halaf. Stefan Przeworski (1900–1940), who lectured on Anatolian archaeology at the University of Warsaw, was shot by the Nazis. A French Jew, R. *Ghirschman, became one of the most industrious excavators in Iran after World War ii.
One of the most unusual figures in the entire history of archaeology was Sir Aurel *Stein (1862–1943), the British scholar whose remarkable explorations in Central Asia were pioneering achievements of enormous scientific value.
The archaeology of Ereẓ Israel up to the 1920s was conducted mostly by non-Jews, although Jewish biblical scholars were making studies of the antiquities of the country already in the 19th century. Jewish archaeological activity, however, developed systematically with the establishment of the Department of Antiquities of Palestine in 1920 and with the founding of the Hebrew University in 1925. L.A. *Mayer (1895–1959) and M. *Avi-Yonah (1904–1974) worked in the Department of Antiquities for many years. A number of excavations by Jewish archaeologists were initiated very early on, notably the work by N. Slouschz (1871–1966) in Tiberias and in the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem in 1924. The Jewish Palestine Exploration Society (now the Israel Exploration Society) began its work at that time. Significant advances were made in furthering prehistoric research in the country by Moshe *Stekelis (1898–1967). Excavations were carried out in 1936–40 at *Bet She'arim by Benjamin *Mazar (Maisler) (1905–1995) and by Naḥman *Avigad (1905–1992) at the Kidron Valley in Jerusalem. Foremost among the earlier Palestinian Jewish archaeologists was E.L. *Sukenik (1889–1953), who worked on many sites of various periods including *Samaria, Hammath Gader, and the site of the Third Wall of Jerusalem. Sukenik became an expert on Jewish burial caves and synagogues, excavating among other places the *Bet Alpha synagogue. He was also the first person responsible for bringing to light the significance of the *Dead Sea Scrolls when they were discovered by Bedouins in 1947. One should also note that Nelson *Glueck (1900–1971) was one of the leading Jewish American archaeologists working in Israel and its vicinity. His survey of Transjordan (1933–46) was a significant enterprise, and he also carried out major surveys and excavations in the Negev Desert, with research on the *Nabatean civilization, and near Aqaba at Tell el Kheleifeh (which he identified as Ezion-Geber).
Following the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 many Jewish archaeologists began working in the field and because of the popularity of archaeology in Israel this meant many more younger men and women than before. The Israel Department of Antiquities and Museums was established in July 1948 and Shmuel Yeivin became its first director, with numerous archaeologists conducting salvage work in different parts of the country; later directors were Avraham Biran and Avraham Eitan. In addition to the existing Department (later Institute) of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, new departments of archaeology were established at Tel Aviv University and later at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba and at the University of Haifa. The Israel Exploration Society began supporting archaeological projects in the country, under the supervision of Joseph Aviram, particularly during the 1960s and 1970s. Among the prominent Israeli archaeologists of the 1950s to 1970s were Yigael *Yadin (1917–1984), son of E.L. Sukenik, who excavated many sites including *Hazor and *Masada; Michael Avi-Yonah, who conducted work at Ḥusifa, Beth Shean, Nahariyyah, Bet Yeraḥ, and Caesarea; Yohanan *Aharoni (1919–1976) excavating at *Arad and *Beersheba; Moshe Dothan (1919–1999) digging at *Ashdod and Akko; Avraham Biran working at *Dan; and Ya'akov Kaplan (1910–1989) at *Jaffa and in the Tel Aviv area. Among the prominent women archaeologists who have been working in the field, one must count Ruth *Amiran with her work at Arad, Trude Dothan at Deir el-Balah and Miqne (Ekron), Claire Epstein (1911–2000) on Chalcolithic sites in the Golan, and Miriam Tadmor. Numerous excavations were conducted in Jerusalem during the 1970s and 1980s by Benjamin Mazar, Nahman Avigad, Magen Broshi, and Yigal Shiloh. Younger archaeologists of note working on archaeological sites in Israel during the 1980s and 1990s, and some of them up to the present day, include Ram Gophna, Avraham Negev, Moshe Kochavi, Aharon Kempinski, David Ussishkin, Gideon Foerster, Gabriel Barkay, Eliezer Oren, Yoram Tsafrir, Amnon Ben-Tor, Amichai Mazar, Ehud Netzer, Ephraim Stern, Dan Barag, Israel Roll, Adam Zertal, Arthur Segal, and Israel Finkelstein. The development of prehistoric research in the country has been identified with Ofer Bar Yosef, Avraham Ronen, Tamar Noy, Nigel Goring-Morris, Naama Goren, and Anna Belfer-Cohen. Underwater archaeology has developed under Elisha Linder, Avner Raban, and Ehud Galili. With the establishment of the Israel Antiquities Authority in 1989, replacing the Israel Department of Antiquities, a new generation of archaeologists has been working in different parts of the country, mainly on salvage and emergency operations, notably Amos Kloner, Ronny Reich, Eliot Braun, Vassilios Tzaferis, Zvika Gal, Emanuel Eisenberg, Yosef Porath, Gabi Mazor, Gideon Avni, and others.
Y. Ben-Arieh, "Non-Jewish Institutions and the Research of Palestine during the Mandate Period," in: Cathedra, 92 (1999), 13–172; 93 (1999), 111–42; S. Gibson, "British Archaeological Institutions in Mandatory Palestine, 1917–1948," in: Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 131 (1999), pp. 115–43; R Reich, "The Israel Antiquities Authority," in: Biblical Archaeology Today, 1990 (1993), 27–30.
[Penuel P. Kahane /
Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]
"Archaeologists." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 26, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/archaeologists
"Archaeologists." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved April 26, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/archaeologists
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