The Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel

The Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel of the Israel Antiquities Authority is the finest, unparalleled and most extensive archaeological research library in the region. The original library was established in 1926 by the British Mandatory Government Department of Antiquities, and it now comprises more than 160,000 volumes, as well as over 1,000 periodicals on Israeli and Near Eastern Archaeology, Egyptian, Anatolian and Classical antiquities, and related subjects such as ancient art, numismatics, ancient history, historical sources, travels and epigraphy.

The National Library for the Archaeology of Israel includes more than 500 volumes of rare and old printed books. Among the rare and outstanding volumes in the collection are 220 archaeological books published between the years 1519 and 1800, and 158 archaeological volumes published between 1800 and 1850. The itineraries written by Western European pilgrims that were published during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries are distinguished components of the Library’s rare books collection.  The Library, currently housed in various locations in Jerusalem is the most important resource center for anyone interested in the archaeology of the Land of Israel and the Ancient Near East. 

The National Library is home to the National Archaeological Archives that contain all excavation and survey data collected since 1917, including maps, drawings, photographs, site plans, object databases and more. It is an invaluable source for scholars and archaeologists from all over the world.

The Mandel National Library for the Archaeology of Israel is open to the public, is fully computerized and is integrated into the Aleph System, making its resources available to any library in the world connected to the system. Recently, more than 80,000 articles on the archaeology of Ancient Israel were added to the Library’s database.

The National Library for the Archaeology of Israel is a dynamic library growing at a rate of some 1500 volumes a year from both acquisitions and gifts.  The acquisition budget is provided by the Israeli Government according to the Law of Antiquities, and gifts of books and collections are accepted if they fit the library’s holdings.  In certain instances, books on subject matters relating to specific archaeological topics but not directly related to the aforementioned subjects are purchased, as in the case of recent purchases of German books dealing with Roman Army Camps in the 3rd Century CE, or books relating to Islamic material and the Hellenistic period.

The National Library for the Archaeology of Israel has an exchange program with some 200 libraries and institutions around the world.  In addition, there are 20 satellite libraries throughout the country where duplicate titles of volumes are kept for easy reference by field archaeologists and researchers. One of the reasons for the satellite libraries is to provide immediate access to researchers and archaeologists in places that are far from Jerusalem. There are several thousand volumes in the satellite libraries.

The Library in the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel

Occupying 12,000 square foot, nearly the entire second floor and the southern wing of the first floor of the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel in the center of Jerusalemthe Library will be surrounded by glass walls, providing wonderful views of the Hebrew University Campus, the Botanical Gardens and the archaeological courtyard in the center of the Campus.  The Reading Hall will be two stories high and will be viewed from the main entrance to the National Campus building. It will afford direct views of the Exhibition Galleries located immediately below, and provide access to two landscaped roof–top gardens.    Adjacent to the Library will be the Bernard Osher Dead Sea Scrolls Galleries where 2,000 year – old Dead Sea Scrolls will be on display alongside archaeological objects from the Qumran excavations.  In addition, an area of ca. 5,000 square foot will be occupied by the National Archaeological Archives and will be accessed by invitation to qualified researchers.

The design plan for the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel calls for a combination of open access and closed book compactors, 64 reader spaces in the Reading Hall, seating areas on the first and second floors, and a number of study cubicles.

In its new, accessible home, and light filled space, designed by Architect Moshe Safdie, the National Library for the Archaeology of Israel will be used extensively by students from all the universities in Israel, Israeli and visiting foreign archaeologists and researchers working in the country, school children and the general public.

The National Library for the Archaeology of Israel in the new National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel will be a spectacular asset for anyone interested in the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel, and will forever change the level and quality of archaeological education and research in Israel.

Work on the dramatic National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel began in 2010 and we expect it to open in 2016.

Architect Moshe Safdie's Libraries

Architect Moshe Safdie has great experience designing libraries, including the beautiful Salt Lake City's Main Library, which embodies the idea that a library is more than a repository of books and computers; it reflects and engages the city's imagination and aspirations. The 240,000 sq feet 500,000 book building opened in 2003 to great acclaim.  In addition, Architect Safdie was chosen by the Free Library of Philadelphia to restore the existing building to its former glory and to add a new 350,000 sq. feet wing to accommodate expanded activitiy and the types of spaces not available in the existing magnificent 1928 building. The new wing will open to the public in 2012.

Highlights from the Rare Collection of 16th and 17th Century Manuscripts

The National Library for the Archaeology of Israel includes more than 500 volumes of rare, old printed books, among them numismatic catalogues, writings of the modern and ancient historians, geographical surveys and theological treaties. In addition, the itineraries written by Western European pilgrims, published during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries are distinguished components of its rare books collection.

The first two centuries after Guttenberg are represented in the Library by old printed European travelers’ books of pilgrims, who published their traveling accounts of the Holy Land. The pilgrims’ views on current events provide us with valuable, first-hand geographical and historical information. The pages of these books are replete with road maps and engravings, which illustrate the accounts of sites and subjects sanctified in the Christian world. The pilgrims’ memoirs serve both as brief guidebooks and as indexes of names of holy places.   

Ioannes Romberch. 1519. Veridica Terre Sancte reginoumque finitimarum ac in eis mirabilium Descriptio…Venice.

This book is the oldest European printed itinerary available in the library. The author is the renowned Dominican priest and writer, one of the distinguished leaders of the struggle against Luther’s movement. In 1520 he was appointed professor of the Faculty of Theology at the University of Cologne. We know of his works in the fields of theology and grammar (e.g., the Congestorium Artificiose Memorie, published in Venice in 1520, which presented original mnemonics, based on resemblance of the images and shapes of letters). The Veridica in our library was published by Ioannis Tacuini in Venice, where the author visited as a preacher, particularly to the German pilgrims. This book is an early example of a printed lexicon of geographical names relating to biblical subjects.

Michael Aitsinger. 1582. Terra Promissionis topographice atque historice descripta…Koeln.

This book, whose author is an Austrian baron, was published by the famous German publisher Godefridi Kempensis. The book renders a list of the holy sites arranged in colophons. A portrait of the author and a folded map of the Holy Land are included. This is the first figurative map in the library collection, executed in a style typical of sixteenth-century graphic art.

Joanne Cola. 1600. Viaggio da Venettia al Santo Sepolcro, et al Monte Sinai…Venice.

Some interesting depictions of Jerusalem can be found in this fine, tiny book of a Venetian traveler and merchant. The same work is sometimes printed under the name Noe Bianco. Our copy of this book was designed in the well-known Venetian publishing house of Daniel Zanetti. The miniature woodcuts illustrating the text show architectural and historical images of Jerusalem - such as Solomon’s Temple and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - reproduced in simplified graphic forms. The flow of publications by European Christian historians, religious writers and geographers, reflects their great interest in the Holy Land and Jerusalem during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Among those publications are the books by Leonhart Rauwolf, a German botanist, who visited the Holy Land in 1575 and left profound notes describing its nature; Pierre Bellon, a prominent French physician and first natural scientist to explore the Holy Land; Bartholomee de Salignac, a German professor and theologian; Christian van Adrichom, a Dutch theologian, who published the first bibliography of writings relating to the Holy Land and Jerusalem. The latter is also the author of the famous work on sacred geography.

Joannes Cotovicus. 1619. Itinerarium Hirosolymitanum et Syriacum…Antwerpen.

A composition of special interest is the attractive publication of J. Cotovicus, a Flemish antiquary and the first to describe the archaeological remains of the Holy Land. He was also the first European researcher to identify the Tomb of the Kings in Jerusalem. The book contains valuable maps and drawings, illustrating the text. In this book, one can find drawings of cities, such as Jaffa, Ramle, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, including detailed plans of the Holy Sepulcher, the Temple Mount, the Kidron Valley and Mount Zion.

Bernardo Amico. Trattato delle piante et immagini de Sacri edifizi di Terre Santa. Firenze, 1620.

The precision and thoroughness are distinguished features of the book of the Franciscan monk. The famous French artist Jacque Callot produced the plates of this edition with the skillful drawings, finest ornaments, head- and tailpieces. The particular value of this book is the large amount of the drawings and plans of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Eugene Roger. La Terra Sainte ou description topographique tres particuliere des saints Lieux, et de La Terra de Promission. Paris,1664.

This publication describes a variety of ethnical groups and religious traditions of different societies in Palestine under Ottoman rule. The author - a seventeenth-century French missionary and Franciscan resident in the Holy Land (1630-1635) - served as the physician of the  Druze leader Fakhr ad-Din. He assembled the original images of the various religious groups, which were impressively illustrated (e.g., the Turks, the Druze, the Jews and the Greeks).The figures in the etchings pose in characteristic costumes. The chapter “Des Iuifs que habitent en la Terre Sainte” includes a sketch of Jewish figures performing religious rituals. This book influenced the style of the contemporary book art in the seventeenth-eighteenth centuries.

George Sandys. 1673. Relation of Journey. London.

This was one of the most popular pilgrims’ publications of the seventeenth century. The author, the son of the archbishop of York, was a distinguished poet, philosopher and traveler. Other literary achievements of his were the translations of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, paraphrases of the Psalms and hymns. His writings influenced the contemporary literature and other disciplines, such as art, archaeology and geography. Sandys is considered to be the first English Egyptologist. In 1610-1612 he made an extended tour of Europe and the Middle East, which he wrote about in a diary, later published in four-volumes. The third volume of his book gives detailed accounts of the Holy Land, e.g., of Jerusalem, Emmaus, Bethlehem and Nazareth. The book was first published in 1615 in London, and later dispersed in many editions. It was translated into Dutch in 1653 and into German in 1669. The Rockefeler library holds the seventh edition (1673) of this book.

At the end of the seventeenth century two notable pilgrims visited Ottoman Palestine: the brilliant Flemish painter Cornelis de Bruyn and the Englishman, Henry Maundrell, chaplain to the Aleppo Company.

Cornelis de Bruyn. 1700. Voyage au Levant. Delft.

De Bruyn traveled throughout the Holy Land and published a book, illustrated by his own engravings and a full-page self-portrait. De Bruyn’s book is distinctive in its accuracy and scrupulousness in his descriptions of sites, people, flora and fauna. The 210 impressive engravings of this finest, big format book expose the reader to the authentic images of the country: monuments and landscapes. It is a rare pictorial encyclopedia of the Holy Land.

By the closing decades of the seventeenth century, the pilgrimages  to Palestine were made by modern European visitors, whose observations reflected the significant changes in Europe’s relationship toward the Middle East. Tourism, as well as geographical and cultural experiences, became the dominating motive for visiting Palestine. “Instead of monks and soldiers, Europe, enlightened, began soon afterwards to send merchants, and consuls, and ambassadors.” - Early travels in Palestine. T. Wright (ed.). London,1848,xxviii.

Henry Maundrell. 1703. A Journey from Aleppo to Jerusalem at Easter A.D. 1697. Oxford.

This compact and informative book is an example of the new, more pragmatic genre of travel memoirs in which the author informs chronologically about his journeys. Maundrell visited the Holy Land during two months in 1696, when he was the Chaplain of the British Levant Company in Aleppo. His accounts of Biblical sites contain notes on social and cultural life, as well as important geographical information concerning roads and distances. The book includes reprinted engravings of the places visited by him. A Journeywas extremely popular for more than two centuries after it was first published; it was republished in numerous editions and translated into several European languages. The library owns the two earliest editions of this book, which were published in Oxford in 1703 and 1714 (including the author’s supplement of  “journebanks of Euphrates at Beer, and to country of Mesopotamia”).

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