The archive of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)
is located in Jerusalem. It essentially continues the archive from the British Mandate era. Following the conquest of Palestine by British forces, headed by General Allenby in 1918, the documentation and data collecting of ancient and archaeological sites had begun. Once a civil government was established by the British Mandatory Authorities in 1920, the Department of Antiquities was created and the archive had become an integral part of it.
The Department of Antiquities of the State of Israel was founded on July 26, 1948, Its activities were based on British Mandate Antiquities ordinances. In 1978, the Mandate ordinances were superseded by the Law of Antiquities that was passed by the Knesset. In 1990, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA)
was established and replaced the Department of Antiquities.
The IAA archive
consists of several sections:
Mandatory : Scientific Record Files Collection (SRF), and Administrative Files, (ATQ).
Israel: scientific and administrative inspection files, excavation files and storage of files of the different IAA units.
Maps; plans and drawings; conservation files; books and cards of finds and squeezes (for details, see IAA link).
Advice: in order to expand your search, and for a better understanding of the results, we recommend you read the following:
Searching by Name;Searching by Sub-District;Searching by Project;Searching by ATQ or SRF number;Search by Map
Searching by Name
The names of sites are organized alphabetically. Choose the first letter of the site name from the list on the left, then search through the list on the right for the site you are interested in.
● As a general rule of thumb , the words in the following list appear after the name itself:
Tell, Khirbet (Kh.), Horvat / Horevot (H.), `Ain, `Ein, `Enot, `Uyun, Wadi, Nahal, Har, Mount, Jebel, Qasr, Mezad, Mezudat, Fort, Qastal, Qal`at, Mivzar, Me`arat, Magharat, Me`arot, Mughr, Mughar, Giva'at, Monastery, Deir, Tulul, Tloliyot, Rehov, Street.
For example: search for Hazor, Tell not for Tell Hazor.
* Please note an exception to this rule: when the preliminary word is part of the actual name, or is commonly known as part of it, the name
appears in full, as for example Tell-Hai, Ain-Karem or Horevot Shivta.
● In the transliteration of Arabic names, the Arabic definite article "el"- and its assimilated forms (es-, ez-, et-, ed-, er-, esh- etc.) appear
at the end of the name after the prefix.
For example: search for Qadi, Tell el- not for Tell el-Qadi.
● Most sites in Israel (and throughout the Middle East) have multiple names, in Hebrew, Arabic and Latin. To simplify the search we have
attempted to include all the names of every site in our search engine.
For example: Mount Berenice, Qa`qa`iya, Qasr Bint el-Malik or Qasra di-Teverya will all lead to the same files, as these are all different names
for the same site.
● Many sites in Israel have the same name. To distinguish between them, the sub-district to which a site belongs appears in parenthesis at
the end of a site name.
For example: Be'er Sheva (Haifa SD) and Be'er Sheva (Beersheba SD) are two sites with the same name, one in the Haifa sub-district,
the other in the Beersheba sub-district.
Searching by Sub-District
Searching by sub-district allows you to filter the possible results of the search to the sites of a specific sub-district. When you choose
a sub-district from the list on the left, only names of sites in that sub-district will appear on the alphabetical search list on the right.
Please note that the sub-districts on the list correspond only to those of the British Mandate period, not the ones used today.
Searching by Project
The "Search by Project" option will produce a list of categories, or projects, which group together a number of files that have a common subject that is not part of an archaeological site per se. Choosing a project category from the list will show the files assigned to this project.
The current projects are:
The Pro-Jerusalem Society Files: the Pro-Jerusalem society was established in 1918 in Jerusalem. The goal of the society was the protection of and addition to “the amenities of Jerusalem and its vicinity,” including preservation of antiquities and the establishment of museums. The society was active between 1918 and 1922.
District, Sub-District and Regional Files: These files deal with archaeological sites, towns and villages in broader perspective, and usually include some information on several sites within a district or region.
Town Planning Commission Files: These files deal with town or village planning, building permits and land ownership issues.
District Planning Commission Files: These files deal with broader regional matters of planning, permits and land ownership.
Palestine Exploration Fund Surveys: Maps, plans and drawings of the Palestine Exploration Fund surveys in Jerusalem.
The Ophel Excavation Files: In 1922 the Antiquities Department and the High Commissioner of Palestine initiated an international effort to "excavate and lay open to the world the City of David and the Ophel". This category groups all the files on the Ophel and its excavations.
Regional Surveys and Soundings: This category groups files of regional surveys and test excavations that cannot be assigned to a single archaeological site.
More categories will be added in the future.
Searching by ATQ or SRF number
Each file in the scientific archives of the Mandate period is either an Administrative file (ATQ) or a Scientific Record File (SRF). Every site that was known during this period has a record in an SRF file, and might have one or more ATQ files. If you know the ID number of the SRF or ATQ file you are looking for, just type it into the search box.
● The Mandatory SRF files contain records of many sites arranged alphabetically. Searching for an SRF file using the ID number will supply numerous results. Each is a record of a different site, but they all belong to the same Scientific Record File.
● Sometimes an ATQ or SRF file deals with more than one site and we have assigned it to all the archaeological sites discussed within it. As a result, when you search for these files using the SRF or ATQ number search, these files will appear multiple times in your search results.
Search by Map
(To be added) Clicking on any site on the map will produce the files related to the specific site.
● The sites on the map appear according to the modern Israeli registration of the site. Every site is registered with geographic coordinates of two opposing corners of a rectangle that defines the limits of the archaeological site declaration. The points on the map represent the center of the registered site declaration area, and thus they do not always fall on the actual geographical center of the site itself but somewhere in its vicinity. The geographical network used today is the new geographic coordinate system for Israel, or ITM, while during the British Mandate, the old geographical coordinate system for Israel , also known as the Palestine Grid or ICS, was in use.
● Not only is the coordinate system used today for registered sites different from that used by the British Mandate Antiquities Department, so is the system of site registration. The geographical location of sites in the Mandate period was registered at the south-western corner (intersection of longitude
and latitude lines) of one square kilometer within which a site is located. In 1944, this system was somewhat altered: instead of registering the south-western intersection of coordinates, the intersection nearest to the site was registered.
Reading the Results
Once you designate your search filters, you will receive the results as a list of files. Every result consists of the file's title, its attribution as an SRF or ATQ file and its ID number. Often the titles of the files will not correspond exactly to the site name you searched for. This is because different names were used for the same site or because some files contain information about several sites. Once you click onto one of the results you will see the texts, photos and all other components of the file. The title page of the file always appears first.
The title pages of ATQ files sometimes show the dates of the material inside the file, but this is not always accurate. Sometimes you may see on the title page references to other ATQ files that deal with the same sites or subjects. You can use the "Search by ATQ Number" option to search for these files.
The title pages of SRF files show the name of the site, the district it belongs to, its coordinates, how it was reached, sources of drinking water, pottery periods from the site, and often the number of the ATQ file number related to the site. You can use the ATQ number to search for this file using the "Search by ATQ number" option.
The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) archive entered the government project of “intensifying national foundations and heritage”, with the aim of preserving and digitizing the British Mandatory section.
The purpose of the project is to enable the wide public in Israel and across the world accessing this unique data.
The digitations project includes, first and foremost, the physical preservation of the different files, which include hand and typewritten texts, photographs, maps and plans that appear on a variety of papers, including greaseproof, rice, stencils and others.
The process of digitations is done to preserve the original data for generations to come. The process prevents the physical deterioration of the material and its wear out, caused by the touch of human hands and the climatic changes. The process consists of digitizing the data and indexing it.
At this first stage, the digital archive includes the scientific Mandatory archive in English; accordingly, the site was developed in English, with a general explanation in Hebrew.