May 11th 2014
If archaeology is your thing, you’re going to be very excited to hear what Israel is planning for the spring of 2016! After years of operating in over-modest quarters, the Israel Antiquities Authority is scheduled to open the Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in April 2016 in Jerusalem. The campus will be located right next to the Bible Lands Museum and the Israel Museum, further strengthening Jerusalem’s Museum Hill as a haven for museum-goers, especially archaeology enthusiasts.
The Ministry of Finance, which officially owns the land being used for the archaeology center, gave permission to the Israel Antiquities Authority to set up shop here on the condition that, in addition to its research and academic functions, the campus be open to the public.
With an average of more than one antiquities site per square kilometer, it is believed that Israel has the highest density of significant archaeological findings of any country in the entire world. In order to accommodate the almost 2 million archaeological artifacts the Israel Antiquities Authority already holds, the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will include approximately 115,000 square feet of floor space.
One of the highlights will be 15,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments that have been identified to date. The planned Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel will be home to 150,000 volumes, which include rare books and periodicals, historical maps and details of past excavations from the time of the British Mandate in pre-state Palestine.
Designed by the renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who also designed the Yitzchak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv, Yad Vashem and the Mamilla complex in Jerusalem, the building itself will resemble an archaeological excavation. Above the roof of the building, a huge canopy is intended to evoke the suspended fabrics that shade archaeologists as they dig. Also, the floors in the building will be numbered from the top down, in deference to the way strata in an archaeological excavation are numbered.
The center’s managers would like tourists’ visits to the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel to serve as preparation for visiting the Israel Museum. In addition to the antiquities on display, the library and the administrative offices, the campus will include an auditorium for public programs, a rooftop garden, a courtyard surrounding a pool and a café for visitors.