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Ruth Amiran, one of the founders of Israeli archaeology, passed away in Jerusalem in December 2005.

Ruth was born in Yavneel, in Ottoman Palestine, in 1914 and received her M.A. in archaeology from The Hebrew University in 1939.

She began her career as an excavator at Tel Gerisa, under the direction of E. L. Sukenik, and at 'Ai, under the direction of Judith Marquet-Krause. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, she joined the Israel Department of Antiquities, serving as inspector of antiquities in the Galilee. She also continued excavating at such sites as Jerusalem, Jaffa, Tivon, Susita, Akko and Rosh Haniqra. From 1955 to 1959, she was a member of the archaeological expedition to Tel Hazor, under the direction of Yigal Yadin.

The pinnacle of Ruth's career was undoubtedly the rediscovery of Early Bronze Age Arad with its imposing city wall and internal buildings. Her excavations there were conducted at the site from 1962 to 1966 and from 1971 until the late 1990s. With boundless energy and patience, Ruth returned to Arad year after year, revealing section after section of the 5,000-year-old city down to the smallest detail. As a result of her comprehensive research on private dwellings, the term "Arad house" became a fixed feature in Israeli archaeology. Major topics such as the beginning of urbanization in Canaan, the relations between Canaan and Egypt and the significance of the Early Bronze Age settlements in Sinai were clarified thanks to the results of this major excavation project.

Ruth Amiran left behind a legacy of more than 150 scientific publications in Hebrew and English, many of which have had a major impact on the study of the archaeology of Israel in the early periods. Above all, her comprehensive work Ancient Pottery from the Holy Land: From Its Beginnings in the Neolithic Period to the End of the Iron Age (Jerusalem: Massada Press, 1969) remains an essential tool for scholars of the archaeology of Israel to this day. Not surprisingly, many of Ruth's publications were devoted to the city of Arad—its rich culture, fortifications, public and private buildings, and a wealth of finds.

In the course of her prolific career, Ruth also played an important role in shaping the archaeological displays of some of Israel's museums, especially The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, where she worked for many years.

She will be remembered for her love of the land of Israel and her tireless dedication to revealing its past.

Tallay Ornan, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

This obituary was provided by the Biblical Archaeology Society {}.

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Citation: Tallay Ornan, " Ruth Amiran 1914-2005," SBL Forum , n.p. [cited May 2006]. Online:


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