Israel’s Treasures Online

As published in Strata in the May/June 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review


The Rockefeller Museum has some extraordinary finds, including a Pre-Pottery Neolithic B painted plaster head with shell inserts for eyes from Jericho. Photo: Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem.

Both the collections and the building of the Rockefeller Museum in east Jerusalem are impressive. Anyone who has visited can testify that the space harkens to an earlier era—the time of the British Mandate—when administration and collection methods were different. While the signage is somewhat confusing for the nonspecialist, anyone can appreciate the museum’s white limestone walls and tranquil courtyard.

Thanks to the Israel Antiquities Authority’s (IAA) initiative, the Rockefeller Museum Online project, all of the artifacts in the Rockefeller Museum’s collection are being digitized. Photographs of the artifacts, along with detailed descriptions, will be available online, granting public access to the museum’s entire collection; 1,253 entries have already been uploaded. This project is a hallmark in Israel, as it is the first time that a museum’s entire collection will be digitized and made available online—thanks to a generous gift from David Rockefeller, who at age 99 is continuing his family’s legacy of philanthropy. His father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., donated the funds to the British Mandatory Government to establish the museum—the official name of which was the Palestine Archaeological Museum—in 1938. After the 1967 war, the name was changed to the Rockefeller Museum.

As the point where three of the world’s major religions converge, Israel’s history is one of the richest and most complex in the world. Sift through the archaeology and history of this ancient land in the free eBook Israel: An Archaeological Journey, and get a view of these significant Biblical sites through an archaeologist’s lens.

Moreover, the Rockefeller Museum Online project is just a sliver of the Israel Antiquities Authority’s digitization efforts. In addition to digitizing the Dead Sea Scrolls,* Israel’s Survey Maps and the National Archives from 1919 to 1948, the IAA has also recently launched the National Treasures Online project, which documents thousands of artifacts from prehistoric times through the Ottoman period. These artifacts come from the IAA’s collections of the National Treasures Department, which documents all of the antiquities in Israel. Go to to see these treasures for yourself!

“Strata: Israel’s Treasures Online” was originally published in the May/June 2015 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.


* “Strata: Dead Sea Scrolls Go Digital,” BAR, March/April 2011.

Related reading in Bible History Daily:

Digital Humanities and the Ancient World
Dead Sea Scrolls Online: IAA Expands Digital Library
The Aleppo Codex Online


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