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Exploring the Holy Land

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The Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) is the oldest exploration society of the Levant which is active today. Since its founding meeting in 1865 in Westminster Abbey, the PEF scholars have conducted systematic exploration of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. Prominent archaeologists such as C.W. Wilson, C. Warren, C. Schick, C. Conder, W.M.F Petrie, H. Kitchener, and R.A.S Macalister, were sent to dig the Holy Land on behalf of the PEF. A remarkable enterprise carried out by the PEF, in cooperation with the Royal Engineers, was the first precise scientific survey of the region: The Survey of Western Palestine, which yielded pioneering high-quality detailed maps of the Holy Land. Marking the 150 years since the PEF emerged, the studies collected in this volume provide a retrospective on the endeavours in the light of the findings of the contemporary archaeological research.

Published: Feb 25, 2019

Book Contributors

Section Chapter Authors
List of Figures David Gurevich, Anat Kidron
List of Tables David Gurevich, Anat Kidron
Note David Gurevich, Anat Kidron
Marking 150 Years of the Palestine Exploration Fund David Gurevich, Anat Kidron
The PEF and the Holy Land
1. George Grove and the Establishment of the Palestine Exploration Fund David Jacobson
2. The Role of the PEF in Setting up the Architectural Draughtsmanship Tradition in Levantine Archaeology Sveta Matskevich
Discovering Ancient Jerusalem
3. The Evaluation of F.J. Bliss and A. Dickie's Work in Jerusalem in the Light of Recent Excavations Ronny Reich
4. Reconstruction of a Crusader Opus Sectile Floor in the Dome of the Rock Based on Picturesque Palestine Illustrations and Finds from the Temple Mount Sifting Project Frankie Snyder, Gabriel Barkay, Zachi Dvira
5. J.W. Crowfoot and G.M. Fitzgerald as Pioneers in the Archaeological Research of Aelia Capitolina Yana Tchekhanovets, Doron Ben-Ami
Sites and Excavations
6. From Lebonah to Libnah: Historical Geographical Details from the PEF and other Early Secondary Sources on the Toponymy of Two Homonymous Sites Chris McKinny, Aharon Tavger
7. Job (Ayyūb), Ḥusayn and Saladin in Late Ottoman Palestine: The Memoirs of Nuʿmān al-Qasatli, the Arab Scribe of the Survey of Western Palestine Daniella Talmon-Heller
8. The Limits of The Ancient City: The Fortifications of Tell Es-Safi/Gath 115 Years after Bliss and Macalister Eric Welch, Jeffrey Chadwick, Itzhaq Shai, Jill Katz, Haskel Greenfield, Amit Dagam, Aren Maeir
9. R.A.S. Macalister and His Excavations at Tel Gezer: Some Critical Comments Samuel Wolff
10. From Palmer to GIS: Two Survey Methods on Trial in the Negev Desert Moti Haiman
11. Roman Roads in the Palestine Exploration Fund Survey Chaim Ben David
12. The Contribution of Conder's Tent Work in Palestine for Understanding of Shifting Geographical, Social and Legal Realities in the Sharon During the Late Ottoman Period Roy Marom
End Matter
Index David Gurevich, Anat Kidron


Exploring the Holy Land is a fitting tribute to the generally positive legacy of the PEF, and the range of essays attest to the broad value of its work across disciplinary boundaries. This book demonstrates that the results of the pioneering work of the PEF in the 19th century will continue to contribute to our understanding of Levantine archaeology in the 21st century.

Beautifully produced ... an excellent contribution to historiographic studies on the discipline of archaeology.