Thousands of documents tracing archeological discoveries in Israel in the past
100 years will be published in an online database in the coming days, the
Antiquities Authority announced on Wednesday.
As part of a grant from the
Landmarks Heritage Fund from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Antiquities
Authority used special scanners to preserve thousands of maps, letters,
engineering plans and other documents from Jerusalem and Acre dating back to
before the British Mandate period.
These files are already online at the
Researchers can find documents such as a letter from
1870 detailing excavations in the City of David/Silwan area; the original
architectural plan of the Holy Sepulcher Church, which was prepared for
renovating the site following a 1927 earthquake; or a British planning survey of
the Temple Mount.
The website’s search features are clumsy and the
Antiquities Authority is still working out some bugs, but the material brings
the dusty archives of the Rockefeller Museum to the wider public for the first
time. The littlevisited museum near the New Gate of the Old City was originally
the home of the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities before becoming the
Many of the items included in the archive are in
danger of disintegrating because they were originally drawn on rice paper. Since
most of the items are in English, the website is also in English and only offers
general explanations in Hebrew.
Dr. Uzi Dahari, the deputy director of
the Antiquities Authority, stressed that the 30,000 declared antiquities sites
that make up Israel’s cultural heritage is “the largest and most important asset
of the State of Israel.”
“One of the many activities of the Antiquities
Authority is the management and running of the scientific archive,” Dahari said
in a statement released by the authority.
“The Antiquities Authority
decided to transfer the archive to the digitalized media in order to disseminate
the information throughout the world.”
Recently, the authority partnered
with Google to launch a website with extremely high-quality scans of thousands
of pieces of parchment from the Dead Sea Scrolls.