The National Treasures Storerooms

The national treasures storerooms at Bet Shemesh serve as a center for the storage, documentation and central control of antiquities that were uncovered in archaeological excavations in Israel from 1948, on the condition that their scientific treatment has been completed. Approximately one million items that reflect the cultural history of the Land of Israel from the earliest prehistoric periods until the end of the Ottoman period – spanning a period of almost one million years – are concentrated and documented in the storerooms.
The artifacts are numerous and diverse, comprising pottery and glass vessels, flint implements, metallic and bone objects, architectural elements and agricultural installations.
This is in fact the largest concentration of finds and databank of its kind for antiquities of the Ancient East.
The national treasures storerooms in Bet Shemesh also serve as a control center. All of the artifacts are sent from here to the permanent and temporary exhibitions in the country and throughout the world, from the Israel Museum to the study collections in schools. There are a total of c. 60,000 finds that are currently out on loan.

In the coming decade hundreds of thousands of new artifacts – the harvest of hundreds of archaeological excavations whose scientific treatment has ended – will arrive in the storerooms.

In light of this anticipation and given the fact that the previous storage facility was located in an antiquated building of limited capacity in Romema, Jerusalem, the Antiquities Authority decided to upgrade the national treasures storerooms.

The process of erecting them was extremely complicated, beginning with the precise planning of the storage requirements and the physical construction of the planned storerooms, and on to compiling an inventory of the artifacts and packing and transporting a million finds from Jerusalem to their new location in Bet Shemesh.

The final outcome is unique:
The excavations are arranged chronologically and geographically, somewhat like a computerized library of artifacts that allows one to examine the finds directly; it is a paradise for archaeologists, historians, museum and exhibition curators and students from Israel and abroad. The storerooms also provide a uniquely impressive experience for the general public.

Despite the enormous amount of finds each and every object is carefully treated on an individual basis.
• A climate controlled room provides constant humidity and temperature conditions for storing the metallic artifacts and ostraca.
• A glass room for all of the delicate glass objects.
• A small finds room where tens of thousands of artifacts are stored such as figurines, jewelry, beads, bracelets, bullae and scarabs.

The new national treasures storerooms are both a harbinger and trailblazer in everything related to the storage, documentation and control of antiquities in the twenty first century.