Bar Ilan excavation 298.
(photo credit: Tell es-Safi/Gath archaeological excavation)
Bar-Ilan University on Monday launched a campaign to build a new Institute of Biblical Archeology, in an effort to put the field back on center stage and serve as a counterweight to revisionist historians who are skeptical of connections between archeology and the Bible.
Thse $50 million institute, which is expected to be constructed in the coming years, will be part of the university's Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archeology.
"The university has made a long-term commitment to place archeology at the forefront if its priorities at a time when archeology has been pushed to the wayside," said institute director Prof. Aren Maeir.
He said that over the last decade and a half, as post-Zionist trends developed, Israeli archeologists have "moved into an academic ivory tower," and have been increasingly concerned over saying things that are politically incorrect.
He noted that after a period after the establishment of the state when the archeology of the Land of Israel was used as a dominant backbone of Zionism, an opposite trend has evolved in the last 15 years whereby many Israeli archeologists try to divorce themselves from Jewish heritage and culture and biblical texts.
Maeir added that Bar-Ilan was trying to find a middle ground between "post-modernist revisionist nihilists" and "ideologically driven conservatives," using archeology to study Jewish history within the context of contemporary culture.