Archaeology and Heritage

Basilica in Ashkelon National Park. Photo: Liad Cohen
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Archaeology and Heritage

Lion relief at Nimrod Fortress National Park. Photo: Dr. Tsvika Tsuk

Archaeology and Heritage

Antipatris Fortress in Yarkon National Park. Photo: Manu Grinspan

The archaeological and heritage vision of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority

To conserve and foster archaeological sites in national parks and nature reserves and prepare them for visitors, in order to strengthen ties between the public and the country鈥檚 heritage.

The actions taken to accomplish this are:

  • Support and encouragement of archaeological expeditions from various institutions to excavate at Israel Nature and Parks Authority sites
  • Advising and initiating archaeological excavations to complete excavations in ancient structures that have tourism development potential
  • Conservation and development of excavated sites; saving sites from destruction by monitoring their condition
  • Fostering archaeological sites and developing them for visitors
  • Promoting inscription of World Heritage Sites
  • Locating new national parks with heritage value on a national level
  • Initiating education and public relations regarding archaeological sites
  • Guiding and training INPA personnel on the subjects of archaeology and heritage

These antiquities sites are categorized as archaeological sites from prehistoric times to 1700 CE and heritage sites from 1700 CE to the present and include mainly heritage sites from the beginning of modern settlement.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority works to protect, conserve and maintain hundreds of sites out of the 9,000 antiquities sites in national parks and nature reserves throughout the country.

Archaeology in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority 鈥 FAQ

What kinds of heritage does the Israel Nature and Parks Authority deal with?
  • Physical (tangible) heritage (9,000 archaeological sites)
  • Prehistoric sites (impossible to preserve, difficult to display, the caves are impressive)
  • Biblical sites (Canaanite and Israelite) (interpretation difficult, conservation of mudbrick, poor preservation)
  • Classical sites (Second Temple, Mishnah and Talmud) (construction in stone, delicate artistic elements such as stucco, fresco, secco, plaster, mosaics, clearly Jewish remains are few).
  • Sites from the Middle Ages to the mid-Ottoman period (1700 CE) (well preserved, no Jewish sites, sites are few)
  • Sites from the modern era (Migdal Tsedek Castle) national sites (Castel, Sha鈥檃r Hagai), well-preserved, Jewish remains are few, sites are few.
  • Cultural landscapes from various periods (open spaces difficult to protect, lack of awareness)
  • Spiritual/narrative heritage (intangible)
  • Ancient sources and their incorporation at sites (David and Goliath )
  • Bible stories and their incorporation in the landscape (Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi)
What are the goals of archaeology and heritage in the Israel Nature and Parks Authority?
  1. Protecting cultural and human heritage in the Land of Israel by conserving the archeological and historical diversity of the sites in situ in the national parks and nature reserves, for ourselves and for future generations.
  2. Transforming heritage sites from scientific archaeological conditions to tourist sites that are comprehensible and accessible to the public.
  3. Conservation of archaeological historical sites in keeping with professional ethical rules and international conventions.
  4. Management of an archaeological historical database of heritage sites in national parks and nature reserves in cooperation with the excavating archaeologist, the Israel Antiquities Authority, other experts and a variety of information sources.
  5. Protection of cultural landscapes surrounding physical sites, to conserve the historic 鈥渟tory arena鈥 and the connection between the site and its surroundings.
  6. Fostering the archaeological and historical sites and their surroundings for the benefit of the public, while protecting heritage assets for ourselves and future generations.
  7. Strengthening ties between the public and the heritage the sites represent through education, guiding, interpretation, dramatizations and various activities and events connected to the culture of the site. Inviting the cooperation of the community near the site in activities there. This creates regional pride, a sense of belonging and assistance in protecting these sites in the future.
  8. Inculcating archaeology and heritage in the INPA鈥檚 work
  9. Educating the public on archaeology and heritage at INPA sites.
  10. Excavating our country鈥檚 treasures to learn the history and material culture of the peoples who inhabited it and thus add to existing knowledge.
  11. Locating archaeological areas of public interest, developing them by excavation, conservation and reconstruction, and making them accessible to the public.
  12. Developing the important sites in national parks and nature reserves for visitors to enjoy, to learn the history and to strengthen the connection between the people and the land.
  13. Preparing an inventory of sites based on Israel鈥檚 planning agencies, to ensure protection from massive development.
What is the policy on archaeological excavations in national parks and nature reserves?

Policy on archaeological excavation in national parks and nature reserves

Every year some 70 archaeological excavations and surveys take place at INPA sites. Each excavation or survey takes place after receiving a permit from the INPA and an excavation license from the Israel Antiquities Authority.
Archaeological excavations take place according to a procedure consisting mainly of the INPA making arrangements for the excavation with the excavator. The existing procedure includes stating the purpose of the excavation and its methods, a map of the excavation, access route, various services,, conservation, insurance, prevention of disruption to visitors, arrangements for disposing of excavated dirt, etc.
The excavators, who belong to academic institutions in Israel and abroad, in many cases receive logistical assistance from the INPA, including free entry to the site, use of its installations and sometimes partial funding.

What national parks have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

World Heritage Sites

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority promotes the inscription of national parks and nature reserves as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Six such sites have been inscribed in Israel so far: (1) Masada National Park, inscribed in 2001; (2) The biblical tells, inscribed in 2005 and including Megiddo National Park, Tel Hazor National Park and Beersheva National Park; (3) The Incense Route inscribed in 2005, and including the Moa-Avdat segment, Avdat National Park, Shivta National Park and Mamshit National Park; (4) the Carmel Caves in Nahal HaMe鈥榓rot Nature Reserve, inscribed in 2012; (5) The Caves of Maresha and Bet Guvrin, inscribed in 2013; (6) The Bet She鈥榓rim Caves, inscribed in 2015.

Map of World Heritage sites


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