Yehoshua (Shuka) Dorfman, Director General of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), passed away in July 2014 at age 64. Despite having no formal archaeological training, Dorfman led the IAA for a decade and a half. As head of the organization, he promoted conservation efforts and technology, moving the IAA into the 21st century.
Under his watch, the IAA expanded the scope of archaeological rescue excavations of sites threatened by modern construction, as well as the authority of the organization to supervise and preserve antiquities.
Firmly believing that archaeological sites should be made accessible to the public, he emphasized conservation: The completed excavation of a site did not mark the end of its teaching ability but the beginning. Enabling people to visit and explore archaeological sites greatly benefits the public, he maintained.
He also campaigned to separate archaeology from politics—to the greatest degree possible. He even wrote a book about the subject, titled Archaeology and Politics in Israel, which will be published soon, according to the IAA.
One of the greatest projects accomplished during his time as Director General of the IAA was the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scroll Digital Library. By digitizing every section of the Dead Sea Scrolls and uploading it to the internet, this incredible resource is now available to the public online—anywhere in the world.
Before coming to the IAA, Dorfman served in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The most senior military position he held was chief artillery officer with the rank of brigadier general.
He was appointed Director General of the IAA in November 2000. While his relationship with BAR was at times rocky, it ended on good terms.* He died on July 31, 2014, after a long battle with cancer that had hospitalized him shortly before his death.
Shuka Dorfman was the son of a Holocaust survivor. He is survived by his wife, Talma, three sons and ten grandchildren.
* Hershel Shanks, First Person: “My Sulkha with Shuka,” BAR, May/June 2010; First Person: “Barred from the City David,” BAR, November/December 2009; and First Person: “Does the Israel Antiquities Authority Want to Destroy BAR?” BAR, November/December 2007.