Resources for Schools - Museum Collections

Resources for Schools - Museum Collections

Museums with Ancient Israel collections

Introduction and Tips 

Searching for antiquities from Ancient Israel held in Museums around the world is not a straightforward task. There is a plethora of synonyms or search terms that may be used by each Museum to refer to these objects. Generally, the broad category will be “Ancient Near East”, but it may also be “Egypt and the Near East”, “Asia and the Near East”, “Classical and Near East”, “Ancient Mediterranean” or “Ancient Middle East”.

Once you have located the appropriate collection, refining the search with the keyword “Israel” will not always bear fruit. Try also: “Palestine”, “Canaan / Canaanite”, “Levant / Levantine”, “Israelite”, “Judea”, “Samaria”. As a start, here is a list of Museums that hold an Ancient Israel collection, especially those with information about the collection and/or a searchable catalogue with images available online.

Australia 

Classics and Archaeology Virtual Museum, University of Melbourne 

Documents the Classics and Archaeology Collection of the University of Melbourne, which is located at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. The Virtual Museum is a collaborative project of the Centre for Classics & Archaeology, the Ian Potter Museum of Art and ArtsIT. 

http://vm.arts.unimelb.edu.au/ 

Museum of Ancient Culture, Macquarie University 

The Ancient Israel collection spans from the early 3rd millennium BC to the Late Iron Age 

http://www.mac.mq.edu.au/the_museum/ 

Nicholson Museum, University of Sydney 

Near Eastern Collection 

http://sydney.edu.au/museums/collections/near-east.shtml 

TOMBS, TELLS AND TEMPLES: EXCAVATING THE NEAR EAST 

http://sydney.edu.au/museums/exhibitions-events/tombs-tells-temples.shtml

Israel 

The Bible Lands Museum, Jerusalem 

The Bible Lands Museum is devoted to the artefacts of the Bible and the Ancient Near East. The link below will lead to their homepage from which one can access the collection online through the “Exhibitions” page. 

http://blmj.org/en 

Eretz-Israel Museum, Tel Aviv 

http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/ 

See: Permanent Exhibits 

http://www.eretzmuseum.org.il/e/95/ 

Take the 360 virtual tour for each section, especially Ceramics, Nechushtan, Kadman and Man and His Work Center

Hecht Museum, University of Haifa 

http://mushecht.haifa.ac.il/Default_eng.aspx 

See: Permanent Archaeological Exhibitions [Symbol] Archaeology of the Land of Israel in Chronological Sequence 

http://mushecht.haifa.ac.il/archeology/ArcMenu_eng.aspx 

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem 

http://www.imj.org.il/en/ 

See: Archaeology Wing [Symbol] Archaeology of the Land of Israel 

http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/page_890 

The Israel Museum's permanent exhibition of archaeology is devoted to the ancient Land of Israel – home to peoples of different cultures and faiths for more than a million years. The Bronfman Archaeology Wing presents some 6,000 finds, mainly from archaeological excavations in Israel, and sheds light on momentous historical events, cultural achievements, and technological advances, while revealing the everyday lives of the peoples of the region from the Stone Age through the Ottoman Period, telling a unique story arranged in seven chronological collections: 
The Dawn of Civilization The Land of Canaan Israel and the Bible  Greeks, Romans, and Jews  Under Roman Rule The Holy Land Muslims and Crusaders 

Each section has a link to the relevant online collection complete with images. 

Or, search the entire collection through the online catalogue: 

http://www.imj.org.il/Imagine/collections/index.asp?cat=Collections 

See also the Thematic Collections: 

  1. The development of ancient Hebrew script  
  1. The story of coins  

A special online collection of Israelite and Persian Period artefacts are also available at:  

http://www.imj.org.il/imagine/collections/departments/15 

The Israel Museum also hosts the Shrine of the Book (Dead Sea Scrolls online) 

http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/page_1348 

The Israel Numismatic Society 

Dedicated to the advancement of the study of numismatics in Israel, the Israel Numismatic Society members are premiere scholars in their field. Included in the “Links” section of their website one will find a plethora of online research material as well as links to top numismatic collections around the world. In addition, the “Publications” section provides links to research done by group members and information on both on-line and off-line resources.  

http://www.ins.org.il/ 

Museum of Regional and Mediterranean Archaeology 

The museum houses exhibits originating from exactly where the museum stands today- the Jezreel Valley. Unique and beautiful ancient vessels and figurines showcase the variety of cultures that flourished at the site, which was once on the route of a very important ancient road over which goods, people and armies travelled from the Mediterranean basin to the lands of the East.  

http://www.gan3.co.il/en/company/a/view/?ContentID=90 

Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, Jerusalem 

Houses the extraordinary collection of antiquities unearthed in excavations conducted in Israel mainly during the time of the British Mandate (1919-1948). The Museum was opened in 1938. It contains thousands of artefacts arranged in chronological order, ranging from prehistoric times to the Ottoman period, including a 9,000-year old statue from Jericho, gold jewellery from the Bronze Age, and much more. 

http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/page_1684 

And 

http://www.imj.org.il/rockefeller/index.html 

Treasures from the Rockefeller Museum Online Collection 

User friendly online searchable catalogue with complete images. Filter by time period.  
Available through the Israel Antiquities Authority National Treasures Online. 

http://www.antiquities.org.il/t/Search_en.aspx?rock=0 

Museum of Yarmukian Culture, Kibbutz Shaar Hagolan 

Late Stone Age collection. The Yarmukian Culture is an 8000 year-old agricultural Neolithic culture that represents the transition to permanent settlement and to a dramatic change in the development of arc​hitecture.  The greatest innovation of the Yarmukian Culture was the use of pottery - the earliest known in Israel. 

http://www.museumsinisrael.gov.il/en/museums/Pages/Yarmukian-Culture.aspx 

See the photo galleries at 

http://archaeology.huji.ac.il/golan/index.htm

USA 

The American Numismatics Society, New York. 

Search for coins. The link below directs to the homepage of the American Numismatics Society, one of the premiere organisations for the collection of currency from antiquity. Their collection can be accessed through the “Collections” link. 

http://www.numismatics.org 

Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 

Collection of Biblical manuscripts in Greek and Coptic from 3rd-6th century CE, including Deuteronomy, Joshua and Psalms. 

http://www.asia.si.edu/collections/biblical.asp 

Kelsey Museum of Archaeology, University of Michigan 

Lamps, vessels, seals, jewellery and more from the Bronze and Iron Age discovered in Israel. 

https://www.lsa.umich.edu/kelsey/collections/searchcollections 

Click on Kelsey Museum Artifacts Database and then enter “Israel” as the search term. (Alternatively, go to ‘Advanced Search’ and type ‘Israel’ into the Provenance field. 

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 

Not easy to find in their online collection but they have an extensive collection from Ancient Israel with detailed online catalogue entries and images. Instructions: 

Go to: http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection 

(Or from the Museum home page click ‘Art’ and then ‘Collection’) 

There will be no listings for the geographic location Israel, Palestine, Levant or Canaan. 

Instead, under Artwork Type, select Department, then choose Ancient Near Eastern Art. 

Now under Geographic Location, select Levant. 

You can then go to Sort by and choose Date to see hundreds of amazing objects from 11 000 BCE to 500 CE. You can then choose to refine by Date/Era. 

(NB. There will be no relevant options under Artist/Culture.) 

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 

Catalogue of Ancient Near Eastern Art (Levant) not available online. 

http://www.mfa.org/collections/ancient-world 

Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, Chicago. 

See especially:  

  • Under Museum Gallery, select Megiddo Gallery. Sort objects according to time period. 
  • Or, under Place Name, select Israel. You can then refine by Dating. 

http://oi-idb.uchicago.edu 

Penn Museum. University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia 

Canaan and Ancient Israel Gallery. 

The Museum's collections from Syria-Palestine date largely to the Bronze and Iron Ages and illustrate the variety of artefacts characteristic of the area's successive archaeological cultures. They include domestic tools, weaponry, jewellery, cult and funerary objects, cosmetics, stone vessels and implements, and above all pottery--an abundant and durable source of information about the past.  

http://www.penn.museum/exhibitions/signature-galleries/canaan-and-israel-gallery 

AND 

This online exhibit explores the identities of the ancient Canaanites and Israelite peoples in pre-historical times through the material remains that they have left behind. 

http://penn.museum/sites/canaan/index.html 

Semitic Museum, Harvard University 

http://semiticmuseum.fas.harvard.edu/collections 

See:  Harvard Expedition to Samaria, 1908–1910 

American archaeologist George A. Reisner’s expedition to the site of Samaria (Sebaste), the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Reisner located remains of the royal palace built by Omri and Ahab during the Israelite period, as well as remnants of buildings constructed during later periods of occupation by Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans. Among the many artefacts found were ostraca (pottery fragments) depicting Hebrew-character inscriptions in carbon ink of Biblical names and memoranda of commercial shipments. You can view all items in the collection. 

http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/expeditions/reisner.html

Canada 

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto 

Joey and Toby Tanenbaum Gallery of Rome and the Near East 

Artefacts representing the Roman expansion to the east into the lands of what is present day Syria, Jordan and Israel from 64 BC to AD 135. 

https://www.rom.on.ca/en/exhibitions-galleries/galleries/world-cultures/joey-and-toby-tanenbaum-gallery-rome-and-near-east

Europe 

Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, UK 

http://www.ashmolean.org/collections/online/ 

See: Ancient Near Eastern Terracottas (ANET) 

Search under ‘region’ for Canaan, Israel, Palestine and Southern Levant 

http://www.ashmolean.org/ash/objects/makesearch.php?pmu=138&mu=151 

Also see the 7000 year-old human skull from Jericho 

http://www.ashmolean.org/collections/highlights/antiquities/ 

British Museum, London, UK 

Department of the Middle East 
Covers the ancient and contemporary civilisations and cultures of the Middle East from the Neolithic period until the present. 

http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/departments/middle_east.aspx 

Collection online: 

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx 

Search especially: [Symbol] Places [Symbol] Lachish 

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx?images=true&place=33767&page=1 

See also the Archaeological Collection of the Palestine Exploration Fund 

http://www.pef.org.uk/archaeological/ 

Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK 

Finds from major excavations crucial to the development of archaeological science, such as those conducted by Kathleen Kenyon at Jericho, one of the oldest continually occupied cities in the world. 

http://maa.cam.ac.uk/archaeological-collections/ 

Oriental Museum, Durham University, UK 

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/about/ 

Near and Middle East Collection 

Objects in the collection obtained from Sir Leonard Woolley’s excavations at Ur; from Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations at Jericho; from the excavations at Lachish sponsored by Henry Wellcome and from a number of other sites.  

https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatshere/nme/ 

Search the collection here: https://www.dur.ac.uk/oriental.museum/whatshere/discover/ 

Le Musée du Louvre, Paris, France 

Department of Near Eastern Antiquities: Levant 

http://www.louvre.fr/en/departments/near-eastern-antiquities 

See especially: Mesha Stele 

http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/mesha-stele 

Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden, Holland 

Dutch National Museum of Antiquities 

http://www.rmo.nl/english/collection 

See [Symbol] Permanent Presentations [Symbol] Near East 

And [Symbol] Search Collection. Use “Israel” as a search term 

http://www.rmo.nl/english/collection/search-collection 

Musée Bible+Orient, Freiburg, Switzerland  

Bible and Orient Museum 

http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/ 

Online database of objects. Search by time period 

http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/bodo/ 

See also: Domestic ceramics from Judah 

http://www.bible-orient-museum.ch/index.php/en/collections/categories-aevg/116-haushaltskeramik-aus-juda 

University of Aberdeen, Museums and Museum Studies, Scotland, UK 

Search the collection online 

http://www.abdn.ac.uk/museums/collections/search.php 

In the “Online Catalogue Records” 

Refine Collection to “Human Culture Collection” 

And Place Key as “Israel” 

World Museum, National Museums Liverpool, UK 

Ancient Near East collection. Including archaeological material from excavations at Lachish and Jericho. 

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/wml/collections/antiquities/ancient-near-east.aspx

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