Skip to main content

Biran, Avraham


BIRAN, AVRAHAM (1909– ), archaeologist and diplomat. Born in Petaḥ Tikvah, of a third generation Ereẓ Israel family, Biran received his education at the Reali Secondary School in Haifa and at the David Yellin College in Bet ha-Kerem, Jerusalem. He obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he studied with William Foxwell *Albright.

From 1935 to 1937 he participated in various archaeological excavations with the University of Pennsylvania in Iraq and with the American Schools of Oriental Research near Irbid in Jordan. He also accompanied Nelson *Glueck on his discoveries along the Gulf of Elath, and in Palestine directed the excavations of the birthplace of the prophet Jeremiah in Anathoth (1935).

In 1937, Biran was appointed District Officer of the Palestine Mandatory Government for the area of the Jezreel Valley. During this period he carried out an archaeological survey of the area. Transferring to Jerusalem in 1945, he became District Officer of the Mandatory Government for Jerusalem. He served as liaison between the United Nations representatives and the Jewish military authorities during the fighting before the 1948 Declaration of Independence.

Biran held a variety of positions with the government of Israel, initially as administrative assistant to Dov *Joseph, the military governor of Jerusalem, becoming governor of Jerusalem for several months. From 1949 to 1958 he was Israel Consul-General in Los Angeles and in 1958 was the director of the Armistice Affairs in the Foreign Ministry.

Returning to archaeology, Biran took up the position of director of antiquities and museums of Israel and in 1974 became director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. In this capacity he directed the excavation of the Israelite sites of Ira and Aroer in the Negev; the ancient synagogue of Yesud ha-Ma'alah; and the longest ongoing excavations in Israel, at Tel Dan. These last excavations revealed a city founded in the 6th millennium b.c.e.; massive fortifications of the 2nd millennium, including a unique triple-arched gate of the 18th century b.c.e. still standing as originally built; a 14th-century b.c.e. tomb with Mycenean imports; evidence for the first settlement of the tribe of Dan, their installations for metal work; the Israelite sanctuary where *Jeroboam had set the golden calf, the religious center of northern Israel with its high place, chambers, altars; a royal scepter; and a dedicatory inscription in Greek and Aramaic – "To the God who is in Dan." Biran was chairman of the Israel Exploration Society from 1978 (in 1999 he was named its president), the Government Names Committee, and the International Committee of Museums and Sites (Israel) of unesco. In 2002 he was awarded the Israel Prize.

[Elaine Hoter]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Biran, Avraham." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 16 Feb. 2019 <>.

"Biran, Avraham." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (February 16, 2019).

"Biran, Avraham." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved February 16, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.