“Truth springeth out of the earth” (Psalm 85, 12): The Museum Curator and Community Archaeology

Community Archaeology in Israel/Palestine - Raz Kletter

Irit Ziffer [+-]
Eretz Israel Museum
Irit Ziffer, PhD, is Senior Curator emerita of the Ceramics and Nehushtan (metals) pavilions at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv. She trained in archaeology and ancient Near Eastern cultures at Tel Aviv University, and received her PhD in ancient Near Eastern art. She was member of the Aphek-Antipatris excavations expedition of the Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University and participated in the excavations of Tell Atchana/Alalakh. She taught at the Department of Archaeology and ancient Near Eastern Cultures, Tel Aviv University. In 2006 she became member of the Israel Exploration Society council. During 2007-2008 she was Andrew W. Mellon Fellow in Art History at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in 2012-13 a guest scholar at Scholion Interdisciplinary Research Center, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her main interests are ancient Near Eastern art, the image-text relationship, material culture, and ethnoarchaeology of the Middle East.


This paper discusses the role of the archaeological museum as mediator between the archaeologist and the public, based on my work and life-long experience as a museum curator. A museum’s prime social function is to conserve (curator; French: conservateur, British: keeper), it must be conservative, although clearly this function need not conflict with activity. The role of museums is to preserve the cultural heritage of the past and transmit it to future generations. We should all be grateful to the scholars and administrators in our museums who devote their lives to very strenuous activity – cataloguing the treasures, restoring damage, answering queries, and above all, making the object under their care accessible to the public through permanent displays and temporary exhibitions. Curators have to speak with the public, keeping up with the changes in society and trends.

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Ziffer, Irit . “Truth springeth out of the earth” (Psalm 85, 12): The Museum Curator and Community Archaeology. Community Archaeology in Israel/Palestine. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. Jul 2024. ISBN 9781800504820. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=44991. Date accessed: 06 Dec 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44991. Jul 2024

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