The Samuel Bronfman Biblical and Archaeology Wing
The Archaeology Wing is currently closed to the public due to the comprehensive program of renewal at the Israel Museum.
Situated at the crossroads of the great civilizations of antiquity, the Land of Israel is the birthplace of the major monotheistic religions. The material culture of this historic region is housed and exhibited in the Samuel Bronfman Biblical and Archaeologiccal Museum – the Archaeology Wing of the Israel Museum, whose collections are based mainly on objects unearthed in local controlled excavations, which trace the cultural achievements of both the peoples that dwelled in this land since prehistoric times and the surrounding civilizations with whom the inhabitants of this region have always maintained ties. Like the archaeology of any country, the local cultures are intimately linked to the land and its geography, and to Israel’s position as a bridge between the great civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Israel was exposed to and influenced by the cultures of the civilizations that also dominated the area in different periods, initiating a long process of cross-fertilization and innovation. At times, the peoples of this land managed to create independent nation-states such as the Israelite and Judahite monarchies of the Iron Age, or the kingdom of Herod the Great five hundred years later.
The archaeology collection is arranged chronologically, focusing on the material culture of each period, with an emphasis on the Biblical periods, the Second Temple period, the period of the Mishnah and Talmud, and early Christianity and Islam. Many of the objects illuminate Scripture, and sometimes the Bible itself provides important evidence for interpreting archaeological finds. Because three of the world’s great religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - regard this land as holy the archaeological curators must often deal with historical reality on the one hand, and faith on the other when they explore and explain biblical texts which contradict archaeological fact. But the history, and prehistory, of the Holy Land began long before the Bible was written and the subjects in the collection include important examples from the religions, cultures and peoples represented in the Holy Land’s archaeological heritage.
The Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, is another integral part of the permanent archaeological display. Different galleries are also dedicated to special collections, such as the Numismatic, Glass, or Hebrew Script Pavilions. Finally, the Neighboring Cultures collection presents important archaeological and artistic objects originating in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia, Syria, Anatolia, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy, all of which left a distinct mark on the local culture.
The Museum’s Archaeology Wing serves as a link between the scientific community of archaeologists and the general public, maintaining ongoing contact with excavators and keeping abreast of local developments, and displaying finds recently unearthed in this country. Exhibitions and their accompanying catalogues are frequently the fruit of close collaboration between the Museum and the staff of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the archaeology departments of local and foreign universities, or the Staff Archaeological Officer in the Civil Administration of Judaea and Samaria.