New Program To Integrate Archaeology and the Natural Sciences

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The Weizmann Institute of Science and Bar-Ilan University sign agreement


Representatives of Bar-Ilan University and the Weizmann Institute of Science have signed an agreement to collaborate on a unique program for multidisciplinary teaching and research in archaeology and the natural sciences. Modern archaeological research of ancient periods and cultures – in itself not an easy task – can be significantly advanced with the use of scientific approaches and the tools used by researchers in the natural sciences (physics, chemistry, biology, earth sciences and more).


The program will allow three scientists who are presently involved in various fields that combine hard science with archaeology (carbon 14 dating, archaeo-botany and geo-archaeology) to carry out research in the framework of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science at the Weizmann Institute, in conjunction with the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University. As part of the program, they will teach courses in their areas of scientific archaeology at Bar-Ilan University, and they will also participate in archaeological research there that will incorporate scientific methods and use of the Weizmann Institute research infrastructure. Thus, students in the program will learn from the first to integrate different approaches and research methods from the natural sciences and archaeology. This will ensure they receive truly multidisciplinary training; one that will be expressed in their future research programs.


The agreement was signed by Bar-Ilan President Prof. Moshe Kaveh, Rector Prof. Yosef Yeshurun, and Prof. Aren Maeir, Head of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology and project Co-director. Weizmann Institute President Prof. Ilan Chet, and Prof. Stephen Weiner, Head of the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science and project Co-director, signed for the Weizmann Institute.
To allow students to become fully versed in both the natural sciences and archaeology, Bar-Ilan University will create several double major programs, starting with students studying for a bachelor’s degree, and later extending to graduate studies.  Each student will take courses in the Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology and one other, such as Geography and Environment (specializing in geo-archaeology), Chemistry (specializing in archaeological chemistry), or the Life Sciences Faculty (specializing in bio-archaeology).
 The program will commence in the coming academic year (2006/2007). It will be the first program of its kind in Israel, and one of a very few in the world, and its initiators hope it will make a significant contribution to Israeli archaeology and help put it at the forefront of world-wide research.


Prof. Stephen Weiner's research is supported by the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science; the Philip M. Klutznick Fund for Research; the Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation; and Mr. George Schwartzman, Sarasota, FL.  Prof. Weiner is the incumbent of the Dr. Walter and Dr. Trude Borchardt Professorial Chair in Structural Biology.

Further information on this project can be obtained from the Weizmann Institute Office of Publications and Media Relations, 08-934-3856, or from Bar-Ilan University, 03-531-8121 or 050-540-1410.

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world's top-ranking multidisciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute is home to 2,500 scientists, students, technicians and supporting staff. Institute research efforts include the search for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.


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