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Gideon  Avni

Position : Head of the Archaeological Division
Department : Archaeological Division
e-mail : gideon@israntique.org.il
Phone : work: +972-2-5892286, fax: +972-2-5892238


Dr. Gideon Avni (PhD – 1997) is the Head of the Archaeological Division in the Israel Antiquities Authority and a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University. In 1989 – 2000 he was the IAA Jerusalem District Archaeologist.


His academic interests focus on various aspects of Classical, Late Antique and Early Islamic archaeology, the cultural and religious transformation of the Near East from Byzantine to Islamic rule, and the archaeology of desert societies in the Levant. During the last 30 years he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Negev Desert (1979-1988; 2005-2011), Beth Govrin (1983-1992), Jerusalem (1984-2003) and Ramla (2002-2004). In 1996-2002 he headed a comprehensive survey and excavations project at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. In 2004-2007 he co-directed a research team supported by the Israel Science foundation on the urban centers of Palestine in the Early Islamic period. He was a fellow at Institute of Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2008-2009). He is currently a member of a research group of the Hebrew University and the Israel Academy of Sciences on the formation of Islamic society in Palestine, and a co-director of an interdisciplinary study on the ancient agriculture of the Negev during Byzantine and Early Islamic times.



Higher education
1984 - Bachelor (cum laude) in archaeology and geography, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

1992 - Master (suma cum laude), the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, supervised by Prof. Yoram Tsafrir (thesis: “Settlement process in the Southern Negev Highlands during the 6th-8th Centuries CE”).

1997 - Doctorate, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, supervised by Prof. Yoram Tsafrir (thesis: “The Necropoleis of Jerusalem and Beth Guvrin during the 4th-7th Centuries CE as a model for Urban Cemeteries in Palestine”).


Academic and administrative positions

A. permanent positions
1989-2000. Head Archaeologist of Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).

2000-2011. Director, Excavations and Surveys Department, IAA.

2012-. Head, Archaeology Division, IAA (Academic director of excavations, surveys, research, laboratories and scientific publications at the IAA).

B. part-time positions
1995-1997. IAA - Scientific director – The Akeldama Tombs traveling exhibition

1997-2000. IAA - Co-author, IAA and UCLA Virtual Model of Ancient Jerusalem.

1994-2000. IAA - Coordinator, “Jerusalem Archaeological Park”.

2002. University of Cincinnati, Tytus Fellowship.

2007. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: Field director of summer school "Jews and Christians in Roman and Byzantine Palestine".

2008-2009. Institute of Advanced Studies, Hebrew University (co-heading a research group "the concept of urban change").

1999-2012. Adjunct lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology.


Other activities

Organizing scientific conferences:
2000-2009. Co-Organizer of four annual one-day conferences on behalf of IAA, Hebrew University and Yad Ben Zvi, each devoted to a thematic topic on the archaeology and history of Israel.

2000-2013 – Co-Organizer of the annual Archaeological Conference in Israel.

2009-2013 – Co-Organizer of three annual one-day conferences, IAA and the institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University.

2003-2013 – Organizer of the "Archaeology of Israel" Session at the American School of Oriental Research Annual Meeting

November 2006: Co-organizer of International conference at Brown University "Unearthing Jerusalem – 150 years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City" April 2009 – Organizer of a special session on Aelia Capitolina at the Roman Archaeology Conference, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Membership in professional organizations
The Israel Exploration Society - member of the council.

Israel Exploration Journal – member of academic advisory committee.

ICOMOS – International Council of Monuments and sites - member.

Israel Byzantine Society - member.


Field-work experience
1980-1982. Area supervisor, Kadesh Barnea excavations.

1980-1983. Head of archaeological survey team in the Negev Highlands for the Archaeological Survey of Israel.

1983-1984. Co-director of excavations of the Roman and Byzantine period farm at Horvat Hazzan, the Judean Lowlands.

1984-1985  Head of archaeological survey team in Jerusalem.

1985-1988. Co-director of excavations in a Late Roman and Byzantine cemetery of Beth Govrin – Eleutheropolis.

1988  Co-director of the excavations in Byzantine – Early Islamic settlement at Har Oded, the Negev Highlands.

1989. Co-director of the excavations at the Akeldama Tombs, Jerusalem.

1991. Co-director of excavations in the Hellenistic and Roman cemetery of Tel Goded, the Judean Lowlands.

1993-1995   Director of Surveys and excavations in the Necropolis of Beth Govrin - Eleutheropolis.

1996- 2006. Co-director of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre survey, excavations and documentation Project.

1998-1999.  Co-director of the excavations at Herod’s Gate – Burj Laqlaq, Jerusalem.

1999.  Co-director of the excavations at Salah e-Din street – the Late Roman northern cemetery of Jerusalem.

2002- 2006. Director of Early Islamic Ramla Archaeological Project.

2005-2012.  Co-Director of a research on ancient agriculture fields and paleo-environment in the Negev (IAA and Geological Survey of Israel).

2011.   Participation in archaeological field survey in Eastern Mongolia with William Honeychurch (Yale University).


Research grants, research groups, fellowships
2002. University of Cincinnati, The Tytus Fellowship – Reseach topic: "City and Necropolis in Roman and Byzantine Palestine – Jerusalem, Caesarea and Beth Govrin as Case Studies" .

2003-2006. Israel Science Foundation research grant "Urban Centers in “Eretz Israel” from the 6th to the 11th Centuries CE – Archaeological and Historical Evidence: Jerusalem, Caesarea, Ramla, and Tiberias as Case Studies", Gideon Avni and Amikam Elad.

2008-2009. Institue of Advanced Studies, the Hebrew University. Co-heading a research group "The Concept of Urban Change".

2009-2013 Israel Science Foundation. Member of Center of Excellency research group "The Formation of Muslim Society in Palestine – Eretz Israel."

2010-2013 Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center in Jewish Studies, the Hebrew University. Adjunct member to research group on "Archaeologies of Memory".


Courses taught
The Invisible Cities – Urban Archaeology in the Mediterranean (Master and advanced bachelors)

Tombs and Burials in the Roman through Medieval periods (Master and Advanced Bachelors)

The Archaeology of Jerusalem in the Roman through Early Islamic Periods (Master and advanced Bachelors)

The Archaeology of the Negev (Master and advanced Bachelors)


List of publications (updated January 2014)


Avni, G. 2014. The Byzantine – Islamic Transition in Palestine, an Archaeological Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Reich, R., Avni, G. and Winter, T. 2009. Jerusalem Milestones - A Guide to the Archaeological Sites.  Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority.
Avni, G., Dahari, U. and Kloner, A. 2008. The Necropolis of Beth Guvrin - Eleutheropolis, (IAA Reports 36). Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority.
Avni, G. and Seligman, J. 2001. The Temple Mount 1917-2001 – Documentation, Research, and Inspection of Antiquities. Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority.
Biddle, M., Avni, G., Seligman, J. and Winter, T. 2000. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Milano and New York: Rizzoli.
Rosen, S. and Avni, G. 1997.The `Oded Sites: Investigations of two Early Islamic Pastoral Camps South of the Ramon Crater, Central Negev, Israel. (Beer-Sheva – Studies by the Department of Bible and Ancient Near East XI),Beer Sheva, Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press.
Avni, G. and Greenhut, Z. 1996>The Akeldama Tombs - Three Burial Caves at the Kidron Valley(IAA Reports 1), Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority.
Avni, G. 1996. Nomads, Farmers and Town Dwellers, Pastoralist - Sedentist Interaction in the Negev Highlands, 6th -8th Centuries CE. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority. 

Avni, G. 1992. Archaeological Survey of Israel - Map of Har Saggi (225, Jerusalem, Israel Antiquities Authority.



Books edited


Galor, K. and Avni, G. (eds.) 2011. Unearthing  Jerusalem: 150 years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City (proceedings of a conference at Brown University, 14-17 November 2006). Winona Lake, Eisenbrauns.

Articles in refereed journals:
Avni, G. and Adawi, Z. forthcoming in 2014. The Excavations at Salah e-Din st., Jerusalem – a Section of the Late Roman Northern Necropolis, Atiqot 79.

Avni, G., Avni Y. and Porat, N. 2013. Ancient Agriculture systems in the Negev Highlands – Stages of Development and OSL Dating. Journal of Field Archaeology 38:332-346. read article online

Ashkenazi, E., Avni, Y. and Avni, G. 2012. A Comprehensive Characterization of Ancient Agricultural Desert Systems in the Negev Highlands of Israel. Journal of Arid Environments 86: 55-64.
Avni, Y., Porat, N. and Avni, G. 2012. Pre-farming Environment and the Desert Agriculture: Geomorphic Window in the Negev Highlands, Israel. Journal of Arid Environments 86: 12-27.

Avni, G. 2011. "From Polis to Madina" Revisited – Urban Change in Early Islamic Palestine. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 21/3:301-329. read article online

Avni, G. 2010.The Persian Conquest of Jerusalem (614 CE) – an Archaeological Assesment. Bulletin of the American School for Oriental Research 357:35-48. 

Avni, G. Avni, Y. and Porat, N. 2009.A New Look at Ancient Agriculture in the Negev. Cathedra 133:13-44, (in Hebrew).

 Avni G. 2009. The Qumran Cemetery as a case study for the archaeological identification of ethnic and religious communities Cathedra 131:43-64. (in Hebrew).

 Avni, G.2008. From Standing Stones to Open Mosques in the Negev Desert– The Archaeology of Religious Transformation in the Fringes, Near Eastern Archaeology 70:124-135.
Avni, G.2008. The Byzantine – Islamic Transition in the Negev – an Archaeological perspective, Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 35:1-27.
Avni, Y. Porat, N. Plakht, J and Avni, G. 2006.Geomorphic Changes leading to Natural Desertification versus Anthropogenic Land Conservation in an Arid Environment, the Negev Highlands, Israel, Geomorphology82:177-200.

Avni, G. and Seligman, J. 2006. Between the Temple Mount /Haram el-Sharif and the Holy Sepulchre: Archaeological Involvement in Jerusalem's Holy Places, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19.2:259-288. read article online
Avni, G. 2005.The Urban Limits of Roman and Byzantine Jerusalem: A view from the Necropolis, Journal of Roman Archaeology 18:373-395.  
Avni, G. 2004.The Boundaries of Aelia Capitolina – a View from the Necropolis, Cathedra111:15-41 (in Hebrew). 
Avni, G. 1998.The Mount of Offence burial Cave Rediscovered, Revue Biblique 105:161-176. 
Sagiv, N. Zisu, B. and Avni, G. 1998. Burial Caves from the Second Temple Period in Tel Goded, the Judean Lowlands, Atiqot 35:8*-21* (in Hebrew).
Avni, G. 1994. Early Mosques in the Negev Highlands – New Archaeological Evidence on Islamic Penetration of Southern Palestine, Bulletin of the American School for Oriental Research294:83-100.
Rosen, S. and Avni, G. 1993.The Edge of Empire - The Archaeology of Pastoral Nomads in the Southern Negev Highlands in Late Antiquity, Biblical Archaeologist56:189-199.
Articles in edited books:
Avni, G.  forthcoming. The Coming of Islam. The Cambridge Handbook of Byzantine Archaeology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Avni G. forthcoming. Continuity, Innovation and Decline in the Agriculture of Early Islamic Palestine, in K. Cytryn-Silverman, K. Damgaard and D. Whitcomb (eds.), Beyond Borders, Recent Advances in Islamic Archaeology. Chicago: the Oriental Institute.
Avni, G. 2013. Who were interred in the Qumran Cemetery? On Ethnic Identities and the Archaeology of Death and Burial, in D. Stacey and G. Doudna, Qumran Revisited: a Reassessment of the Archaeology of the Site and its Texts (BAR International Series 2520), pp. 125-32.
Avni, G. 2011.Continuity and Change in Urban Centers of Palestine during the early Islamic period – the Cases of Jerusalem and Ramla, in K.G. Holum and H. Lapin (eds.), Shaping the Middle East, Maryland: University Press of Maryland, Pp. 115-134.  read article online
Avni, G. 2011. From Hagia Polis to al-Quds – The Byzantine Islamic Transition in Jerusalem, in K. Galor and G. Avni (eds.), Unearthing  Jerusalem – 150 years of Archaeological Research in the Holy City (proceedings of a conference at Brown University, 14-17 November 2006). Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns. Pp. 391-402. read article online

Avni, G. 2009.The Invisible Conquest: the Negev in Transition between Byzantium and Islam in the Light of Archaeological Research. in L. Di Segni, Y. Hirschfeld, J. Patrich and R. Talgam (eds.), Man Near a Roman Arch – Studies Presented to Prof. Yoram Tsafrir. Jerusalem: IES. Pp. 29-42. (in Hebrew).
Seligman, J. and Avni, G. 2009.Holy Places and Religious Institutions in the Holy City. In E. Meiron and D. Bar (eds.), Planning and Conserving Jerusalem 1973-2003 – the Challenge of an Ancient City. Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi. Pp. 290-333.
Avni, G. and Gudovitz, S. 2009. Underground Oil Press at Ahuzat Hazzan. In E. Ayalon, R. Frenkel and A. Kloner, Oil and Wine Presses in Israel from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Times (BAR International Series 1972), Oxford: Archaeopress, pp. 391-395.  
Avni G . and Seligman, J. 2008. Between the Temple Mount and the Holy Sepulcher – Archaeological involvement in the Holy Site of Jerusalem, Eretz Israel 28 (Teddy Kollek volume), pp. 289-298. (in Hebrew).
Avni, G. and Seligman, J. 2003. New Excavations at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre Compound, in G.C. Bottini, L. Di Segni and M. Piccirillo (eds.), One Land, Many Cultures – Archaeological Studiesin Honor of Fr. S.Loffreda, Jerusalem. Pp. 153-162.
Avni, G. and Zissu, B. 2000.The 'Tombs of the Prophets' on Mount of Olives: a Reexamination. In E. Baruch (ed.), New Studies in Jerusalem , Ramat Gan. Pp. 117-127 (in Hebrew).  
Magness, J. and Avni, G. 1998. Jews and Christians in a Late Roman Cemetery at Beth Guvrin, in H. Lapin (ed.), Religious and Ethnic Communities in Later Roman Palestine, Maryland. Pp. 87-114. 
Avni G. and Gudovitz S. 1996. Underground Olive Press and Storage System at "Ahuzat Hazzan", in D. Eitam and M. Heltzer (eds.), Olive Oil in Antiquity – Israel and Neighboring Countries from the Neolithic to the Early Arab Period, Padova. Pp. 137-147.
Avni, G. 1993. Christian Secondary Use of Jewish Burial Caves in Jerusalem in the Light of new Excavations at the Aceldama Tombs, in F. Manns and E. Alliata (eds.) Early Christianity in Context. Monuments and Documents, (Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Collectio Maior 38), Jerusalem. Pp. 265-275. 
Avni G., 1992 . Survey of Deserted Bedouin Campsites in the Negev Highlands and its implications for Archaeological Research, in O. Bar Yosef and A. Hazanov (eds.), Pastoralism in the Levant - Archaeological Materialism Anthropological Perspective. Madison. Pp. 241-254.

Avni G . and Dahari U. 1991. Christian Burial Caves from the Byzantine period at Luzit, in G.C. Bottini, L. di Segni, E. Alliata and M. Piccirillo (eds.) Christian Archaeology in the Holy Land, Jerusalem: Studium Biblicum Fransiscanum. Pp. 301-314.
Avni, G., Gudovitz, S., Mintzker, Y., and Kloner, A. 1987. The Hiding Complex at Ah'uzat Hazzan, in A. Kloner and Y. Tepper, The Hiding Complexes in the Judean Shephelah, Tel Aviv. Pp. 115-127(in Hebrew). 
Selected articles in other venues
Avni, G . 2008. "The Most Beautiful of Cities" – Ramla during the Early Islamic Period. Qadmoniot 135:2-10. (Hebrew).
Avni, G . 1996 . Jerusalem as a Textbook, Biblical Archaeology Review 22/3:36-45.
Avni, G . and Greenhut, Z. 1994 . Resting Place of the Rich and Famous, Biblical Archaeology Review 20/6:36-46.
Avni, G . 1994.Les grottes d`Acaeldama, Archeologie Nouvelle 2:41-46.
Avni, G. and Greenhut, Z. 1994 . Scoperte a Gerusalemme, Archeo 9: 54-102.
Avni, G ., Greenhut, Z. and Ilan, T. 1994. Three new Burial Caves from the Second Temple period at Aceldama - the Kidron Valley, pp. 206-218 in H. Geva (ed.), Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, Jerusalem.  

Ilan, D., Dahari, U. and Avni, G. 1989. The Rampant Rape of Israel's Archaeological Sites, Biblical Archaeology Review 15:38-43.


 Entries in Encyclopedia
 Avni, G. and Gutfeeld, O. 2008.Ramla, New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land V, 2007-2010.
Baruch, Y., Avni, G. and Parnos, G. Jerusalem: the Herod's Gate Area. New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land V, 1819 – 1821.

Short announcements (Excavations and Surveys):
Avni, G . and `Adawi, Z. 2001. Jerusalem, Sallah ed-Din Street, Hadashot Arkheologiot, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 113:114-115.
Avni, G. and Baruch, Y. 2001. Jerusaelm, the Old City – Herod’s Gate, Hadashot Arkheologiot, Excavations and Surveys in Israel
Seligman, J. and Avni, G.  2000.   Jeruselem, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Hadashot Arkheologiyot, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 111:91-93.
Avni, G.  1989-90. Jerusalem, German Colony, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 9:147-148.
Rosen S. and Avni G. 1989 . Har Oded, Israel Exploration Journal 39:110-112.
Avni G.  1988-89. Har Suri`az, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 7-8:78.
Avni G., Dahari U. and Kloner A. 1987. Beth Govrin, the Ahinoam Cave, Israel Exploration Journal 37:58-60.
Avni, G.  1986. Sheqef (Har Nadal), Excavations and Surveys in Israel 5:100.
Avni, G . and Dahari, U. 1985. Giv`at Shama, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 4:35-36.
Avni, G . 1985. Horvat Egoz, Excavations and Surveys in Israel 4:25-26.

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