The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
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Archaeology   Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing  
Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing
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The Archaeology Wing tells the story of the ancient Land of Israel – home to peoples of different cultures and faiths – using unique examples from the Museum’s collection of Holy Land archaeology, the foremost holding in the world. Organized chronologically, from prehistory through the Ottoman Empire, the transformed wing presents seven “chapters” of this archaeological narrative, weaving together momentous historical events, cultural achievements, and technological advances, while providing a glimpse into the everyday lives of the peoples of the region. This narrative is supplemented by thematic groupings highlighting aspects of ancient Israeli archaeology that are unique to the region’s history, among them Hebrew writing, glass, and coins. Treasures from neighboring cultures that have had a decisive impact on the Land of Israel – such as Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Italy, and the Islamic world – are on view in adjacent and connecting galleries. A special gallery at the entrance to the wing showcases new findings and other temporary exhibition displays.

Highlights on view include: 

• “House of David” inscription (9th century BCE), part of a monumental stele commemorating the military victories of Hazael, King of Aram. This inscription is the earliest source of archaeological evidence for the Davidic dynasty in the Land of Israel.

• A comparative display of two shrines (8th–7th century BCE), one Judahite, devoid of human images, as proscribed in the Bible, and the other Edomite, rich in human images, representing gifts to the shrine by the worshipers.

• The Heliodorus Stele (178 BCE), incised in Greek on stone, this inscription provides new insight into the dramatic story of Heliodorus in the Temple of Jerusalem and the events that led to the Hasmonean/Maccabean revolt, as recounted in the Second Book of Maccabees. Since its first display at the Israel Museum in June 2007, additional fragments of the stele have been discovered and are now presented together for the first time in 2,200 years.

• Royal Herodian bathhouse (1st century BCE), reconstructed with the pillars, frescos, mosaics and tiles excavated from Herod’s palace at Herodion. The bathhouse, lavishly decorated and built with the latest Roman technology, includes a raised mosaic floor and earthenware piping built into its walls to provide heating for the entire room.

• Hadrian’s Triumph: Inscription from a triumphal arch (136 CE), honoring the emperor Hadrian and presumed to commemorate the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. The Latin inscription, discovered in Tel Shalem, is the largest ever found in Israel and is on display for the first time.

• Gold-glass bases from the Roman Catacombs (4th century CE), rare ancient medallions decorated with traditional Jewish motifs, which represent the earliest known depictions of Jewish symbols from the Second Temple to appear in the Western Diaspora.

• Reconstruction of synagogue and church bemas (4th–7th century CE), an impressive new installation comparing the architectural elements of contemporaneous Christian and Jewish houses of prayer. This installation presents a synagogue bema (chancel) from Susiya and a church bema with elements from seventeen different churches.

• Wall painting from the Abbey of the Virgin Mary in the Valley of Jehosaphat, (12th century CE), discovered during a salvage excavation of Mary’s Tomb, next to Gethsemane. This rare Crusader-period fresco was a highlight of the Abbey, which was destroyed centuries ago, and is on display for the first time.

• Mihrab from Isfahan, Iran (17th–18th century), newly installed in the Wing’s gallery for Islamic art, incorporates elaborate mosaic tiles and Qur’anic verses. The mihrab, a niche in the center of the wall facing Mecca, is the most highly ornamented area in the mosque.
 
The curatorial team of the Bronfman Archaeology Wing is led by Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Tamar and Teddy Kollek Chief Curator of Archaeology. Pentagram Partners, London, designed the new galleries.

 


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