Program aims to boost Israeli archeology [pg. 6]

Modern archeological research of ancient periods and cultures - in itself not an easy task - can be significantly advanced with the use of scientific approaches and the tools used by researchers in the natural sciences, such as physics, chemistry, biology and earth sciences. Now the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan have signed an agreement to collaborate on a unique program for multidisciplinary teaching and research in archeology and the natural sciences. The first program of its kind in Israel and one of a very few in the world, the program will begin in the coming academic year (2006-07) and its initiators hope it will make a significant contribution to Israeli archeology and help put it at the forefront of worldwide research. The program will enable three scientists presently involved in various fields that combine hard science with archeology (carbon-14 dating, archeo-botany and geo-archeology) to carry out research in the framework of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science at Weizmann, in conjunction with the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan. As part of the program, they will teach courses in their areas of expertise at Bar-Ilan, and they will also participate in archeological research there that will incorporate scientific methods and use of Weizmann's research infrastructure. Thus, students in the program will learn to integrate different approaches and research methods from the natural sciences and archeology, ensuring they receive multidisciplinary training. This approach is one that would be expressed in their future research programs, the two sides said. The agreement was signed by Bar-Ilan President Moshe Kaveh, Rector Yosef Yeshurun and Prof. Aren Maeir, head of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archeology and project codirector. Weizmann President Ilan Chet and Prof. Stephen Weiner, head of the Kimmel Center for Archeological Science and project co-director, signed for the Rehovot institute. To allow students to become fully versed in both the natural sciences and archaeology, Bar-Ilan will create several double-major programs, starting with students studying for a bachelor's degree, and later extending to graduate studies.