The Groundbreaking for the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will take place in a festive ceremony on Sunday, October 15, 2006, at 12:30 p.m. The ceremony will be held in the presence of the President of the State of Israel, the Prime Minister, Minister of Culture, Science and Sport, and the families of donors from abroad, on Museum Row, Granot Street, Jerusalem.
The Israel Antiquities Authority – the preeminent organization in the field of Israeli and Biblical Archaeology, responsible for all matters of archaeology nin Israel, is undertaking an historically unprecedented project to bring together nearly one million archaeological objects, among them 15,000 Dead Sea Scrolls, under one roof in the heart of Jerusalem, and make accessible to the public the priceless treasures that collectively represent the cultural heritage of the Land of Israel.
The Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will serve as the national center for the collection, study, education, conservation, restoration, presentation and exposure of the archaeological material and the archaeological work conducted in the Land of Israel. It presents a rare opportunity to educate the public about the significance of the remarkable archaeological heritage of the Land of Israel by illuminating the fascinating archaeological work, and promises to enhance conservation and preservation of the collections for future generations. The campus will be built with generous funding from philanthropists from Israel and abroad, through the Friends of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
For the first time, the public will have an opportunity to observe from specially designed bridges and glass curtain walls the delicate archaeological work performed in the laboratories, and understand the enormity and impact of approximately one million artifacts in the National Treasures as they walk through the vast visible housing centers. The new dramatic campus, covering c. 20,000 square meters, was designed by architect Moshe Safdie, and will be built on Museum Hill in Jerusalem, opposite the Knesset and adjacent to the Israel Museum and the Bible Lands Museum.
The plan of the building as envisioned by the architect Moshe Safdie is premised on the idea of an archaeological excavation. The building is arranged around three courtyards built along three descending levels. A dark glass canopy, reminiscent of the shade nets over archaeological excvations, will cover the main courtyard that will serve as an open archaeological garden. A ring-like opening located in the canopy will allow rain water to run into a pool situated in the courtyard below, thus creating a flowing waterfall. The three levels below it will be an open public area that will include exhibition galleries, the largest library in the Middle East for the study of archaeology, a lecture hall and bridges overlooking the laboratories and state treasures whose walls are lined with glass curtains.
The director general of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, said that the modern and dynamic complex of the campus constitutes a landmark and model for the world’s archaeological community, and it has elements for teaching, presenting and illuminating the archaeological work that the staff of the Israel Antiquities Authority carries out ‘behind the scenes’.
“The campus will represent a bridge between the past and present and will serve as a resource for teaching the archaeological heritage of the country. This place will constitute a focal point that will draw to it archaeologists, students, researchers and school children”, Dorfman added.
The Main Elements in the Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Campus:
Center for the National Treasures
The Center for the National Treasures will comprise space for the visible housing, preservation, study and exposure of more than one million archaeological artifacts with guided access to the public. The center will include: ancient glass, the largest collection of ancient coins in the country, pottery and stone vessels, metal artifacts, textiles, ivory, wood and straw, ossuaries, jewelry, mosaics and architectural items.
National Center for the Presentation, Study and Conservation of the Dead Sea Scrolls
The National Center for the Dead Sea Scrolls will include: state-of-the-art conservation laboratories that will provide a rare opportunity to observe the process of scroll conservation; illumination and study halls; a climate-controlled housing center for more than 15,000 scroll fragments and objects from the Qumran excavations, as well as a study center and library.
The state-of-the-art laboratories will allow the public to observe the archaeological conservation and restoration processes. The laboratories include facilities for the conservation of ancient glass, coins, pottery, stone, metal, organic material for botanical and anthropological research, mosaics and frescoes.
Archaeological Library and Reading Hall
The archaeological library will be the largest and most comprehensive library in the region. The collections comprise 120,000 volumes and 1,000 journals covering subjects on archaeology in the country and the Middle East.
The archaeological archives contain all of the data on excavations and surveys (maps, drawings, photographs, site plans, list of objects, etc) that were conducted in the country from 1917 onward. The archives constitute an immensely valuable resource for numerous researchers and archaeologists from Israel and abroad.
A 200 Seat Archaeological Theatre
The Theatre will be part of the education center and will be used for the presentation of uniques archaeological programs, as well as for conferences and lectures.
Archaeological Roof Gardens
The roof gardens, extending across c. 1,800 square meters, will be used for the presentation of large andunique archaeological finds such as mosaics, columns etc.