AVIRAM, JOSEPH (1917– ), director of the *Israel Exploration Society (ies) in Jerusalem, which has been at the fore-front of Israeli archaeological activity especially since the 1950s. Born in Suwalki, Poland, Aviram completed his studies at the Tarbut Hebrew Teachers Seminary in Vilna in 1936, immigrating that year to Palestine and subsequently furthering his studies in the Bible and Hebrew Literature departments of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prior to the War of Independence in 1948, Aviram worked as an elementary school teacher. After serving as an officer in the Israel Defense Forces, he was appointed as deputy director of the *Youth Aliyah organization. Between the years 1955 and 1969 Aviram served as the academic secretary of the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and in 1969–1983 he was the director of the Institute of Archaeology.
Serving first as the honorary secretary of the Israel Exploration Society in 1940, then as an Executive Board member, and eventually as its director from 1983, Aviram was the guiding light of the Society. During his time many major excavation projects were sponsored by the ies, with Aviram taking an integral part in their administration, notably at Beth Shearim, Haẓor, Masada, the Judean Desert Cave surveys (1960–61), and in different parts of Jerusalem (the Temple Mount, Jewish Quarter, and City of David projects). The IES was also the publisher of numerous publications of very high scientific quality, overseen by Aviram himself. These include the Israel Exploration Journal, Qadmoniot (in Hebrew), the New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, the Ancient Pottery of Israel and Its Neighbors from the Neolithic through the Hellenistic Periods, and the final reports on Beth Shearim (3 vols.), the Judean Desert (3 vols.), the Jewish Quarter (2 vols.), Jericho (3 vols.), Yoknèam (3 vols.), Dor (2 vols.), Masada (6 vols.), and Arad (3 vols.), among other sites.
Aviram was the recipient of many awards and distinctions, notably the prestigious Israel Prize (together with the Israel Exploration Society) in 1989 and the P. Schimmel Prize of the Israel Museum in 1990. The 25th volume of the Eretz-Israel scholarly series was dedicated as a Festschrift to Aviram in 1996 in recognition of his important services to the field of archaeology in Israel.
[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]