On October 19th 2016 the Israel Antiquities Authority, the pre-eminent organization in the field of Biblical and Israeli archaeology, custodian of nearly 2 million archaeological objects among them 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls, will inaugurate the new National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, our Moshe Safdie designed 350,000 sq. foot archaeological education, research and exhibition complex on Museum Hill in Jerusalem. The campus, which has been under construction since 2012, is bound to become a model for the worldwide archaeological community, and a must-see stop for school groups, students, tourists, archaeologists and researchers and the general public. The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel is a private/public undertaking, supported to date by 28 private donors and foundations and by the Israeli government.
To celebrate the inauguration of the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel, the Israel Antiquities Authority plans to install two spectacular exhibitions relating to the archaeology of the Land of Israel and illuminating the important archaeological work conducted by the archaeologists, researchers, conservators and educators of the IAA:
Scrolls from the Dead Sea
In the Barbro and Bernard Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Gallery
Chalcolithic Art from the Land of Israel
In the Margot and Tom Pritzker Hall of Archaeology Exhibition Gallery
These inaugural exhibitions are bound to be hugely successful, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors including the general public, school children, soldiers as well as tourists.
SCROLLS FROM THE DEAD SEA
THE BERNARD AND BARBRO OSHER DEAD SEA SCROLLS GALLERY
One of the main attractions planned for the inauguration of the National Campus will be a stunning new Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition in the Bernard and Barbro Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Gallery featuring 2,000 year – old scrolls most of which have never before been seen in Israel.
Ten Dead Sea Scrolls from the collections of the Israel Antiquities Authority, the largest and most complete collection of Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran excavations, will be exhibited in our brand new Bernard and Barbro Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Gallery, located on the second floor of the campus overlooking the main courtyard and the Hebrew University campus in the distant. Seven of the ten scrolls have never been shown in Israel. Among them will be the rare Ten Commandments Scroll (“I am the Lord your God who took you out of the Land of Egypt out of the house of bondage. You are to have no other gods but me.” Deuteronomy 5:6-7); the Genesis Scroll (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1-2); the famous Book of War Scroll (the Book of War details an apocalyptic 40-year battle between the forces of good and evil); the large, Herodian period Leviticus Scroll (this copy of the book of Leviticus is written in the ancient Hebrew script used in First Temple times); the large and beautiful Psalms Scroll (one of the best preserved biblical scrolls, containing 48 psalms, including 7 that are not found in the standard Masoretic version of the Bible); and others. In addition, objects from the Qumran excavations, most of which were never before exhibited in Israel will be exhibited alongside the scrolls.
The special exhibition will not only discuss the story of the discovery, the importance of the scrolls to Judaism and Christianity, the Yahad community, the diversity of opinions and types of scrolls, but will also highlight for the first time in Israel the highly important, fascinating conservation work conducted by the Dead Sea Scrolls conservation experts of the Israel Antiquities Authority. This will be the first time that the public in Israel and visitors to our campus will have an opportunity to learn about the monumental project of conserving the scrolls and digitizing them for the benefit of future generations.
In addition, a brand new multimedia component including a new movie about the scrolls and interactive programs for children based on our new Dig Quest: Israel App for kids will be part of this new exhibition.
The new exhibition will draw on the tremendous experience gained by the curators and scholars of the IAA from exhibitions of Dead Sea Scrolls in venues around the world including the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Vatican Apostolic Library, the Field Museum, the Romisch Germanisches Museum, the Jewish Museum and others. The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition will remain in the Bernard and Barbro Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Gallery for ca. 18 months and is expected to be seen by hundreds of thousands of visitors.
CHALCOLITHIC ART FROM THE LAND OF ISRAEL
THE MARGOT AND TOM PRITZKER HALL OF ARCHAEOLOGY
One of the main attractions planned for the inauguration of the National Campus will be a stunning exhibition about Chalcolithic Art from the Land of Israel in the Tom and Margot Pritzker Hall of Archaeology exhibition gallery. The 5,000 sq. foot climate controlled Hall of Archaeology is the main exhibition space in our National Campus, located along the east façade of the building and covered with a 130 foot long skylight allowing natural light to enter the entire space. Three corridors lead visitors from the gallery to the main open courtyard of the campus, and the fascinating work performed in three conservation centers located immediately below the Hall of Archaeology is viewable through the glass walls.
The Chalcolithic culture flourished in Israel from the fifth to the second half of the fourth millennium BCE. The distribution of settlements stretches from the Negev and the Judean Desert in the south to the Golan in the north, and includes dwelling, cult and burial sites. New production technologies were introduced during this period, and regional and inter-regional trade relations were strengthened. Pottery production became more industrial in nature, with the beginning of the use of the ‘slow wheel’ and improvements in firing techniques. For the first time, too, tools and prestige and religious objects were cast from copper, some of them using the ‘lost-wax’ casting technique. Alongside the metal industry, the basalt, bone, shell and ivory industries also thrived, and were used to create prestige and cult objects such as bowls, chalices, sculptures, figurines, beads and pendants.
Chalcolithic Art from the Land of Israel will explore this “metallurgical revolution” and the accompanying social and cultural changes through the presentation of nearly 200 objects some of them never before seen in Israel including copper objects from the 1961 excavations of the Cave of the Treasure hoard, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic ossuaries from the 1995 excavation at Peqi’in, technically elaborate wool and linen textiles, a wooden bow and walking stick, sandals and a carved wooden bowl from the Cave of the Warrior, recently excavated ceramic ware and exceptionally rendered figurines and ivory figurines.
And what artistic marvels these artifacts are, many molded by lost-wax casting and given a sheen by alloys such as arsenic or antimony. Such conspicuous objects were found nowhere else in society, nor anywhere else in the Ancient Near East. They were only recovered at all because they were hidden away in desert caves when society collapsed. The Peqi’in cave was only discovered when a contractor unwittingly broke through the roof of the largest and most elaborate cemetery ever discovered from this period, leading the way to votive objects and ossuaries (bone boxes) exquisitely decorated with human faces and elaborately painted designs, more intricate and diverse than any previous discoveries. We are still not certain about the exact meaning of each motif, but it is clear that craftsmen made the boxes to honor certain of the dead. When viewed together, these objects reveal a dynamic world whose technological advancements revolutionized art and society.
The exhibition will also present for the first time ever a complete Chalcolithic period tomb that was excavated in the Galilee and is now part of the National Treasures.
The new exhibition will draw on the tremendous experience gained by the curators, archaeologists and scholars of the IAA from working on similar exhibitions for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the NYU Institute for Advanced Study of the Ancient World and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
Additional Information about the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Israel Antiquities Authority:
Simon Schama in: The Story of the Jews
Conservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls special movie
The official Dead Sea Scrolls website of the Israel Antiquities Authority
Dead Sea Scrolls App for Kids Dig Quest: Israel
NYT Review of IAA Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition at the Jewish Museum, NYC
The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel
National Campus Booklet
Additional information about the National Campus and the Chalcolithic period:
An interactive online version of the IAA’s “Copper Age” exhibition at the NYU ISAW
The Metropolitan Museum of Art long term loan exhibit from the IAA
“Journey to the Copper Age” Lecture organized by the IAA at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York Times Review of the ISAW exhibition
The National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel
National Campus Booklet