Gophna, Ram

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GOPHNA, RAM (1928– ), Israeli archaeologist, who made a major contribution to the study of the proto-history of Israel, with a special interest in spatial archaeology and environmental history. Gophna was born in Tel Aviv and was educated at the Ḥadash High School during 1943–46. In 1946, before the War of Independence, he joined the *Palmah. As one of the first students of the Department of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Gophna's teachers were B. *Mazar, N. *Avigad, M. *Avi-Yonah, and M. *Stekelis. He completed his B.A. in 1954 and his M.A. in 1956. Following his studies Gophna worked for the Israel Department of Antiquities from 1958 to 1974 as a district archaeologist for the southern region, the Negev, and the southern coastal plain. In 1968 Gophna was one of the team leaders during the survey of the hills of Ephraim and Manasseh in the West Bank. Gophna eventually joined the staff of the Department of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University in 1971 in parallel with his work as district archaeologist. In 1974 he completed his Ph.D. dissertation, supervised by Yohanan *Aharoni, entitled "The Settlements of the Coastal Plain of Eretz-Israel During the Early Bronze Age." Gophna conducted a great number of archaeological surveys and excavations in Israel, with his most important and pioneering work carried out at En Besor between 1970 and 1983, which laid the foundations for a new discipline of research, namely the study of the interrelationship between Egypt's Dynasties "0" and I and Canaan in the Early Bronze Age i. As a professor of archaeology (since 1981) at Tel Aviv University, where he taught for nearly 20 years, Gophna was an influential mentor for a large number of undergraduate and graduate students. Gophna has more than 100 research articles to his credit, with his first article appearing in 1963. Key articles include "The Rural Aspect of the Settlement Patterns of the Coastal Plain in the Middle Bronze Age ii" (Tel Aviv, 8 (1981), with P. Beck); "The Settlement Landscape of Palestine During the Early Bronze ii–iii and Middle Bronze Age II" (iej, 34 (1984)); "Man's Impact on the Natural Vegetation of the Central Coastal Plain of Israel During the Chalcolithic and the Bronze Age" (Tel Aviv, 13–14 (1987), with N. Liphschitz and S. Lev-Yadun). He was also the editor of two important monographs on his excavations at En Besor and Tel Dalit. In 2002 a collection of studies (see Bibliography, below), many by his students, was presented to Gophna on the occasion of his retirement from Tel Aviv University.


E.C.M. van den Brink and E. Yannai (eds.), In Quest of Ancient Settlement and Landscapes; Archaeological Studies in Honour of Ram Gophna (2002).

[Shimon Gibson (2nd ed.)]