Elisha Linder (1924–2009)

Elisha Linder

Elisha Linder, one of the founding fathers of maritime archaeology in Israel and a senior lecturer at the University of Haifa, died on June 8, a few days before his 85th birthday.

Linder was responsible for initiating the establishment of the Association for Underwater Research in Israel, as well as the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies and the department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa. He directed excavations at nearly all of the underwater sites in Israel—Acre, Atlit, Caesarea, Ashdod, Shavei Tzion and the Coral Reef—as well as some abroad.

One of his most important projects surfaced in 1985 20 miles south of Haifa, off the shores of Kibbutz Ma’agen Micha’el, where he had lived since 1955. A member of the kibbutz happened upon an ancient shipwreck while diving in the shallow waters just off the coast and alerted the authorities. A team, headed by Linder, undertook the study, excavation, conservation and reconstruction of the ship—an extremely well preserved merchantman from around 400 B.C.—which filled an important gap in knowledge about seafaring of that time period.a The reconstructed hull of the ship was put on display at the Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa.

After studying Biblical history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Linder earned his master’s degree at Columbia University and then completed his doctorate at Brandeis University. In the course of his career, he was awarded several prizes in recognition of his contributions to underwater archaeology, including Italy’s Franco Papo prize and the Dioscuri prize, as well as the Israel and Bible Lands Percia Schimmel Award from the Israel Museum.

a. See Elisha Linder, “Excavating an Ancient Merchantman,” BAR 18:06, and Michael R. Shurkin, “Fruits of the Sea,” BAR 30:05.

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