Monday, December 30, 2019

The amazing clock collection in Jerusalem

In the attractive and characteristic neighbourhood of Rehavia in Jerusalem, not far from the president's residence, there is this a small museum called the Museum of Islamic Art

It is a gorgeous museum filled with amazing artifacts. Personally though I think that the museum should be called the Museum of Eastern Art. Most of the artifacts pre-date Islam and/or originate from non-Arab speaking countries such as Turkey, India and Iran. 


It is very likely that this watch was part of the loot of one of the greatest robberies in the art world.

Are clocks from the East?

I will definitely write about all the amazing artifacts I found in this museum (you know me and museums). But in this blog post I am going to focus on the wonderful collection of clocks that I met at the museum of Islamic art. Yup, that is right, gorgeous shiny clocks and timepieces made mostly from solid gold.

The clocks are beautifully displayed.

If you ask me how do clocks and watches tie in with Islamic art, then you are asking the exact same question that I asked the receptionist.

Why not?

The answer was: "They do not really have much to do with each other. But the same woman who created the museum in the first place also needed a place to exhibit her father's large clock collection. So why not? 

Why not indeed? 

The woman responsible for the museum's existence is Vera Bryce Salomons. She loved Eastern art and was a serious collector and built the museum as 'showcase for the Islamic civilization and the Arab cultural legacy'. She  hoped to create a bridge between the Jews and Arabs of Israel via art. Like seriously, who doesn't like to look at pretty old things? (Okay maybe the Taliban...
and ISIS too.)


The amazing companion clock would reset the time of the removable pocket watch so that they are both in sync.


What to do when your dad leaves you a bunch of old stuff?

Vera's dad,  Sir David Lionel Salomons was an English banker with a BIG thing for clocks. He collected nearly 200 of the most amazingly crafted timepieces. Most of them were made in the 18th or 19th century. We can definitely understand where his daughter got her collector's gene from...


Do you also see the "face" in the clock?


One of Sir David's most favourite horologists must have been Abraham-Louis Breguet (born: 1747, died: 1823). He collected many of the watchmaker's amazingly intricate and beautifully crafted clocks and even wrote a book about him called Breguet 1747–1823


A musical fan that keeps the time too
Breguet lived in France, though he was born in Switzerland and was THE watchmaker of his time. All of the A-listers of the time, members of the nobility and other famous people, were his customers.

The best work that he created throughout his entire career must be timepiece that he was commissioned to make for Marie-Antoinette, the queen of France.


The "Marie-Antoinette" from the front.

And from the side.

Marie-Antoinette's wearable

Sadly Marie-Antoinette died at the guillotine before the watch was finished. Breguet himself  had to flee France during the revolution because of his royal connections and the work on the watch stopped for seven years. It was eventually finished in 1802, almost twenty years after it was first commissioned. 

The final cost of the Marie Antoinette (No.160) came to 30,000 francs. A tidy sum even today but a HUGE amount of money in 1802.

The watch has the following functions:

Clock
Perpetual calendar
Minute repeater
Thermometer
Chronograph
Power reserve
Pare-Chute (shock protection system, invented by Breguet)
Chime
Independent seconds hand

Pretty cool for a watch made 200 years ago, right? 


A gun watch...with a little bird on top!

Enter the villain…

And his name was Naama, Naaman Diller. His backstory started all the way back to 1930's to the hospital room his mom shared with Arik Einstein's mom after the two women gave birth. 

The two women stayed friends and it seems that Naaman constantly compared himself to Arik Einstein, one of the most  beloved and famous singers of Israel.

Luckily for Naaman, he was selected to train as a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Israeli pilots undergo rigorous training and the selection process is amazing tough. Even today, fighter pilots are considered the cream of the entire Israeli Defence Force and modern-day heroes. Naaman might not have been a famous singer but being an air force pilot was more than enough.

During one of his training flights he flew over his kibbutz to show off to the people he grew up with. Naaman was not the first, and definitely not the last trainee pilot to do this but that day a particular nit-picky general was visiting the area. And just like that Naaman was kicked out of the pilot trainee program.

The ultimate sulk

It is thought that Naaman must have taken this setback really bad because he turned into a daring and sophisticated burglar. 

And then he set his eyes on the famous clock collection in Jerusalem. He started to case the joint and discovered there was a problem with the alarm system and that everyday a truck parks right underneath a convenient window. He managed to squeeze his skinny ass through this window and stole 106 of the irreplaceable timepieces. Including the Marie Antoinette (No.
160). 

From the day (Sunday morning April 17th, 1983) the museum workers discovered the robbery, the clocks just vanished into thin air and nobody knew what happened to them.


I am pretty sure that the thief did not add this chronometer in his bag of stolen goods.


How to sell a famous stolen piece of art

The entire world of clock makers, collectors and buyers were of course aware of the robbery. So when Naaman's widow tried to sell some of these clocks to an art dealer, the dealer immediately contacted the museum. Later a lawyer, acting on behalf of the widow,
tried to work out a deal with the museum about selling them back some of the clocks.


In front is a quarter repeating ring watch made with gold and pearls.

Just before Naaman Diller died of cancer in 2004, he told his divorced wife that he was the daring thief. He left her all the clocks but it was a bit difficult for her to sell them. Even after twenty years.

Eventually the police got involved, as it works with stolen goods. They managed to retrieve nearly all of the stolen clocks from their hiding places in Europe, Israel and the USA.


Pocket watches made in England for the Turkish market with numerials in Arabic script

The shining end

And now the clocks are back in the museum of Islamic Art, shining brightly in their beautiful display cases. Securely in the basement with no access to any windows and a door that looks as if it belongs in high-security bank.


Just more of the beautiful clocks in this special collection


Directions and opening hours:
I highly recommend visiting these amazing clocks with their long and exciting history.

Remember that the clocks are only one part of the museum of Islamic Art. There are lots of other interesting things to see. I definitely felt that I got a TON of value for my entry fee.

The address is: 3 haPalmach street, Jerusalem
Check the museum's own website for opening hours and ticket prices.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The subtle art of standing in a queue in Israel - a survivor guide


This is NOT queue in Israel, it is waay to calm and orderly

If you visit Israel as a tourist, or are a new immigrant you may get the conclusion that Israelis do not have the queue-standing gene.

They just seem to stand around in a bunch and then use their elbows to move forward when the train or bus arrives or when going through a building's security entrance.

This is one part of life in Israel that can be difficult for new immigrants that I do not have an issue with at all. I mean, WHY do we have elbows? 😁 Just watch out for small old ladies though, they have a really mean shove in those tiny bodies of theirs.

The REAL art of queue standing, or rather let me rephrase, the real art of queue moving is more like a contact sport here in Israel. And this is where all those newbies are mistaken. They may think that Israelis do not have the queue standing gene but they just have not yet been exposed to an extreme level of standing in a line. 

Here in Israel queues are three-8dimensional and do not just basically move forwards. They are much more fluid and vibrant and have veey different rules of engagement that you should be aware of. One does not merely STAND still and wait for your turn.

I know that this may sound SO strange and not at all how you have perceived queue standing (for like your entire life), so here are a few guidelines on how to stand in a queue in Israel.*


1. NEVER give up your space

Your space is hard-worn territory, so be uber-reluctant to give it up. I mean, you HAVE been standing there already for 2 hours!**

If an old man at the doctor's office says that he doesn't drive well at night and wants to swop places with you, pay attention! If it is not dusk yet outside tell him that you are in a hurry yourself because you have to pick up a child from kindergarten.

If a mom at a PTA meeting ask to swop places with you because she has to pick up a younger child from the kindergarten, tell her that you have meetings with other teachers right after this one. 

Maybe these queue crashers are telling the truth but be aware that they often do not. They just saw a non-Israeli face and decided to take a chance.

Pay attention also if someone behind you is trying to invade your space. They can for example place their bag on the floor right next to you and then smoothly pick it up and slip on your spot when the queue moves forwards again. Others will stretch out or inch along until they are standing right next to you. The next thing you will notice is that are in front of you.

Your best course of action is to let them know that you are on to them. Either place your bag in front of theirs or move as they move. In extreme cases you can look them in the eye in say something like: "This line is taking forever, isn't?"***

Note how the woman in the dark pants is moving forward to see if the train is coming


2. Queues are vibrant, so be vigilant

Do NOT stand still in a queue. Use your few inches to move around, for example stretch forwards to peek when the bus/ train is coming. Or if it is not a structured queue, move a few meters around to see if you can get a better spot.

This signals to the other queue standers that you are not a tree that they can move around from and that you are 100% vigilant in the current queue situation. 


3. Queues are made out of people

Israel is a small country and people are used to bump into someone that they know. Note that there are often active acquaintance seekers, especially if the line is really long, that will try and use this to their advantage.

If this ahead 'friend' willingly gives them as space, there is not much that you can do. But if said friend shows any reluctance to participate in queue jumping, a raised eyebrow will help the friend to shun the attempted advances. 

Some Israelis will state their displeasure vocally and this always works to scare off the queue jumpers. But if you have an accent, don't say anything. Everyone will just think that it is quaint that you expect Israelis to stand quietly and wait their turn.


4. Queue politics when a number or appointment time is involved

For example at the post-office, pharmacy or doctor's office. If the said place gives out numbers or have appointment times, every new person joining the situation MUST enquire who has the previous appointment time or line number. This is so that we can keep an eye on each other. One cannot just sit and wait for your turn, you have to keep an eye open for queue opportunists. 

Play with your cellphone at your own peril. When the new line number just starts to flicker on, or as soon as the door handle is pressed down from the other side of the doctor's office, you HAVE to be ready with your bag over your shoulder and paperwork in hand. Hesitate just for one second and someone else will take your turn because you 'didn't show up'.

Be on the alert also for someone how has a 'quick question' for the clerk/doctor/person you are all waiting for. Just smile nicely and tell them that you will not take long.***


5. Holding places in a supermarket 

Some Israelis try and defy the physics of waiting patiently at a supermarket by parking their trolley behind you and then continue with their shopping. They will of course ask you to keep an eye on their place. Be aware that this is not an easy task. 

People behind the placeholder trolly can shove the unattended trolley aside and take its place. You will have to be vigilant on the front AND back side. If it is nearly your turn, just nod towards the cashier and say that you will be leaving soon.****

If the line is long, quickly whip out your cell phone, gesture to it and say that you have to make some phone calls/ answer emails.****

If you say yes, that you will look after the unattended trolley and it does get shoved aside, the queue shopper will return and then blame you for not doing a good job. It is almost certain that shouting will ensue, so try your best not to volunteer ANY assistance while you are standing in a queue.

And there you have it, some subtle advice on how to stand in a queue in Israel. Please do not use this knowledge to get ahead in a line but rather as advice on how to survive queue standing in Israel….;)


*to be read with humor in your heart of course..😁

**Five minutes - the space-time continuum passes with warp speed in Israel

***Friendliness and politeness are a foreign concept in Israeli queues, so use it to your advantage to stun the locals

****translation: "I am not going to stay and look after your unattended trolley."













Sunday, December 8, 2019

Praying for rain


As a South African living in Israel, I cannot help but constantly compare the two countries. Of course there are many differences but one of the major similarities is our dependence on rain water. 

And since most of South Africa (though not the Cape area) gets its rain during the summer months and Israel gets its rain during the winter months, we are waiting for the rainy season at the same time. More or less during the month of October. It is then autumn in Israel and springtime in South Africa.

If this sounds a bit confusing, remember that the Southern hemisphere's seasons are opposite from the Northern hemisphere.

Sometimes the rain does not come

In both South Africa and Israel (especially now with climate change) the rainy season often does not come. Or does not come in time or it rains but not enough. Which is quite disastrous because the dams, rivers and aquifers need to be filled up and the bone-dry fields need rain to feed the wildlife and grow the crops that we exist on, etc. etc. Who doesn't know the importance of rain?

Growing up in South Africa, I remember services being held where everyone got together to pray for rain.


Prayer rules

Now living in Israel, I learned that religious Jews ask for rain every single day during the rainy season when they pray their three daily prayers.

There is this Jewish "urban legend" that the three fathers were responsible for three times a day prayer. Abraham introduced the morning time to pray, Isaac the afternoon slot and Jacob was the nightowl.

Every Jew had to pray to God everyday, but since the time of Moses the form of the prayer and how many times to pray was your personal choice. Daniel, the guy who spend some time with hungry lions in their cage, prayed three times a day during his time in exile in Babylon.


When a bunch of scribes have a meet-up

After the Jews returned from their 70 years of exile in Babylon, Ezra the Scribe realized that something had to be done to preserve their Jewish identity. They had picked up different languages and customs in Babylon and started to forget Hebrew. So Ezra and a bunch (120) of prophets and other scribes got together in a group called "Men of the Great Assembly". (Think of it as the precursor of one of those academies of languages that records new words and keep an eye on spelling and grammar. But with a religious twist.)

Of course there is NO mention of one single woman in the Great Assembly but we all know how chauvinistic history can be..and...that like totally 100% guaranteed these 120 men took uncredited advice from their wives and daughters. Okay rant over, let's get back to the rain.

One of the tasks of this group was to finally decide what should be in the daily prayers. The prayer that they eventually finalized is called the  "Shemone Esrei" (the "Eighteen Benedictions"). And its nickname is "the Amida" (the standing) because it is recited while standing and facing Jerusalem.

You can read the text of the prayer here. Everyday, all over the world religious Jews (and also not very religious) recite this prayer three times a day. I have even seen people praying the Amida on my morning train commute.

Different bits are added to the prayer during the different Jewish holidays and there is also a summer and winter version. These versions differ in the way that rain is asked or not asked for.

In the summer it says: "He causes the dew to descend." And the winter version says: "He causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall."


Getting into winter mode

The winter mode prayer starts two weeks after the Sukkot holidays. Sukkot is a pilgrimage holiday and in the days of the temple, Jews would travel to Jerusalem during this holiday to bring sacrifices and pray. They would travel from far and wide to Jerusalem, even from Babylon

Even though the exiled Jews of Babylon were allowed to return to Israel after 70 years, a large population stayed behind. But they still traveled to the temple in Jerusalem for the holidays if they could.

These pilgrims were allowed two weeks to make their way back home. After that, they'd better have packed umbrellas because everyone has started with the rain prayer.


So when does the summer mode starts?

The summer mode of the Amida prayer start on the first day of Passover. This is when everyone stops praying for rain and ask for dew instead. Passover always falls in the spring time and is the period in the year when one doesn't want too much rain to ruin the planted crops. 

If these prayers seem to totally follow the agricultural seasons, you are 100% correct. People have lived here in Israel for ages and wheat crops were their main source of food. Don't forget that Israel is smack in the middle of the fertile crescent. It makes sense that the prayers for rain and not-rain would follow the plant seasons.


So what about the water from the sea?

I read a blogpost recently where the writer asked if it is still relevant to pray for rain. After years of uber-dryness, the Israeli scientists have finally figured out how to make desalination plants effective. Most of the water in our taps came from the sea.

Personally I think that it is still VERY relevant to pray for rain. We, the crops and municipal gardens may get their water from taps but what about the wildlife and the fields?

Israel don't really have many rivers but we do have the Jordan river that ends in the Dead Sea, which is getting smaller every year. More rain to fill up the Sea of Galilee, our few rivers and the Dead Sea would be very welcome. And how would the wild flowers grow if there were no rainy season?

So yeah, science may have kept the taps running but our souls and the land still thirst for rain. 

May God make the wind to blow and the rain to fall.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Timeline of a 'situation' in Israel

The word 'situation' has a special meaning in Israel. It is usually used when talking about the security situation in Israel but actually compass quite a wide range of things. Such as the situation that Israel is surrounded by not too friendly neighbours. Or the situation that there are a network of sirens throughout the country to warn us about incoming missiles.

Two weeks ago another type of situation unfolded in Israel and this blogpost describes my own personal experience.


Tuesday, 12 November 2019 - on my way to work

I must have realized that something was up when I got a seat this Tuesday on the express train to Tel Aviv.

This train is always packed by the time it arrives at my home station. I am usually grateful if I just get a place to sit on the floor. Believe me, this is MUCH better than standing packed like a sardine with my fellow travelers.

As I was enjoying sitting on a real seat for a change, a work colleague unexpectedly phoned me. (Is it also true in your lives that an unexpected real voice phone call is a sign of importance?)

She told me that her daughter, who also work in the diamond exchange, got a message that their offices are closed for the day and that maybe I should not even bother to come in. I was taken 100% by surprise, so my colleague filled me in on what I have missed. It turned out to be quite a lot.

Monday, 11 November 2019 - the previous evening

The Israeli defense force killed an Islamist Jihadist Abu al-Ata in Gaza who was responsible for recent rocket attacks Israel. Targeted killings such as these are controversial these days and are often debated in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). We are also still between governments at the moment, so if this killing was authorized by the interim government, it was with good reason

The Islamic Jihadists have however sworn revenge and have started to pepper southern Israel with missiles. Some missiles have even reached the cities just south of Tel Aviv such as Holon and Bat Yam.

Back to Tuesday on the train

Schools and workplaces were closed for the day, including the city of Tel Aviv where I work. The Homefront was concerned that public transport will be targeted. Since I was already on the train, and the only choice was forward, I decided to continue to work and check if our building was closed or not.

By this time, more and more people on the train started to get calls and messages that Tel Aviv might be closed when we arrive there. A group of students seemed happy that their classes might be cancelled, while other people started to confirm or postpone meetings and check in with loved ones.

There is free wi-fi on trains in Israel but it is a bit dodgy as we move from one area to the other. Between the glimpses of on and off, I finally learnt about my fellow countrymen in the south of Israel. Yet once again they were spending their lives in bomb shelters as missiles from the Gaza strip rain on them.

Tuesday 8.30 am - Tel Aviv

Our train finally pulls into the train station and there are no-one else there. It is one of the larger stations with six platforms that are usually packed with people. Especially during the rush hour. Now it felt like a scene from one of those apocalyptic movies where you wondered what happened to all the people.


A few minutes later

My building turned out to be open, though the security guard warned me that everything else will be closed. The diamond exchange is like a small contained (and bustling) city with banks, offices, synagogues, restaurants, travel agencies and a post office. I have even heard that there is a church too but I have never seen it.  And of course there are the packed diamond halls where diamonds are bought and sold every minute. Now everything was closed because of the 'situation'.

Once again I got that apocalyptic feeling as I entered an elevator by myself. But then a tough life-hardened diamond dealer joined me and of course we talked about the 'situation'. He told me that our building is quite safe but to rather stay away from the windows. I was not sure if I should freak out or feel reassured.


I often complain that I feel as though I work in a jail, but was grateful for all the re-inforced concrete today.

In the office I chatted with my mom, husband and manager about the 'situation' and then did the only thing I could. I started to work.

Continuously during the day

The management of the diamond exchange kept announcing over the PA system on what to do in case of a missile attack. And that they recommend that offices should not open today.(Not everyone is an early starter like me….)


Notice in an elevator with instructions on what to do in a 'situation'.

Check the news for updates and pray for the families in the bomb shelters.

Check the train app to see if I will be able to make it home that evening. (There were trains but only north-bound ones.)

Follow the news obsessively that evening while worrying about the families in the bomb shelters.

Wednesday, 13 November 7 am

Got a message from the diamond exchange that the Homefront said it is okay for them to be open.

Wednesday, 13 November 9.30 am

Discuss the 'situation' with my work colleagues who left me all by myself the previous day. 

The office admin informs us what to do in case the alarms sound. (We basically just go and stand in the stairwell for 10 minutes.)

Feel guilty about being more less safe while so many people are still living in bomb shelters.

Keep an eye on the news. Praying that the Islamic Jihadists will finally run out of missiles. Or will be discouraged to continue as the IDF carries out airstrikes against more suspected Islamic Jihadists.

Hoping that the families on the bomb shelters are doing okay even though they are in the forefront of the current 'situation'. Send a quick prayer for their safety and sanity.


A notice in the lobby of our building. It says "To the shelter".

Thursday, 14 November 8:40 am 

The news reports that a cease-fire was reached and life in Israel went back to default mode. Which translates into "Go back to living your normal lives but listen for sirens and be prepared to run to the shelters."

This morning, walking from the train station to the building that I work in, I noticed that the coffee shops are open and filled with people again. And the buskers and beggars are back to doing their thing.

As I passed one of the regular buskers, a John Denver fan with a Labrador companion, a snippet of his song caught my ear:

"Lord, help us all…."


*Remember that this is only my personal account of a security situation in Israel. Innocent bystanders, on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, have had a much worse experience than me.

**I am posting this blog on December 1, 2019 two weeks after the situation described above unfolded. I am sad to say that the ceasefire did not hold. Israeli's in the south are sporadiacally being fired on with missiles from Gaza and are constantly returning to the bomb shelters.




Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Rockefeller Archaeological museum




For some odd reason, the Rockefeller Archaeological museum is NOT on the list of must-see museums in Israel.

And it definitely should be.


Why you should visit the Rockefeller Archaeological museum


Granted, it does not have the amazing constantly updated art exhibitions of the Tel Aviv museum of art. Or world renown archaeological items such as the Dead Sea scrolls. Those are preserved in a special climate-controlled chamber at the Shrine of the book museum.

There are also no interactive displays that will take you on a 'back-in-time' journey through Israel's rich history. Or a museum shop selling T-shirts decorated with prints of ancient graffiti or posters of the old kings and rulers of the past.

There is just a cool old building filled with cool old stuff.

An old-school historian's kind of museum. The type of place where Indiana Jones would feel at home.

There might not be any interactive displays to the past but actually the entire building is like a time capsule. Just step through the beautiful carved doors and you will find yourself in a different time-space continuum.


This museum is like 100% old-school

The entire Rockefeller archaeological museum feels as though it was frozen in time for the last 50 years. It even smells old-fashioned. Maybe it is the floor polish? Or the stuff that is used to keep the display cases so pristine?

Have a look at this translation of some dead guy's tombstone. The content is quite fascinating by itself but did you notice the font and the paper that was used? Don't you agree that it looks as though someone typed it out on parchment paper on a REAL typewriter? Like fifty years ago?


Ancient notice written in Greek

Slightly less ancient notice written in English

Who dreamed the Rockefeller Archaeological museum into existence?


All of the antiquities that the Brits managed to dig up were housed in some obscure old building somewhere. But then in 1925 James Henry Breasted, founder and director of the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute came for a visit and he was like:

"Dudes, you need a proper museum for all these cool stuff."

And Lord Plumer (the guy running the show then in British Palestine) was like:
"You CAN do it!"

So the Chicago museum guy said: "Hold my ancient oriental artifact from undetermined age..gently."

And he talked to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and was like: "So the pommies in Palestine don't want you to build a museum in Cairo but you are allowed to build one in Israel."

And Rockefeller was like "Groovy" or whatever an American would say in the 1920's and donated two million dollars.

They started building in 1930 but then had to stop for a while because they managed to dig up some ancient graves..obviously. The museum was finally completed in 1938 and officially named the Palestine Archaeological Museum.

In 1948, with the outbreak of the Israeli War of Independence, the museum was closed but opened again 20 days later.

An international trustee (aka group of people who like old stuff) was created to run the museum. Remember that those days Jerusalem was divided into east and west. For a while the country Jordan, who annexed the West Bank was in charge of the museum for a couple of years.

After the Six Day War, Jerusalem was reunited and the museum was renamed as the Rockefeller Archaeological museum. 

Who designed the Rockefeller Archaeological museum?


The architect of the museum was Austen Harrison from Britain.  He was named after the writer Jane Austen - an ancestor of his.

An interesting fact about Austen Harrison was that he wanted to resign from the military during the First World War. The senseless killing got to him and he did not want to be a part of it anymore. It would not however look good if a career officer from an established family just "left" the war. Eventually a compromise was reached and he spent the rest of the war as a stretcher bearer.


Austen REALLLY liked his arches.




After the war Austen Harrison studied architecture and eventually found himself in Israel as Chief Architect in the Department of Public Works in the civil administration of British Palestine.


More about the artifacts INSIDE the museum


There are many treasures in the Rockefeller museum and part of the fun (I believe) is wandering through the halls and 'discovering' them for yourself.


Ancient Jewish lighting devices

Israel has a rich history and you will be able to find anything from a skull with a square hole to ancient jewelry, fertility figurines, ceramics and even old wooden panels from the Al Aqsa mosque.


I couldn't find the description for this skull but you have to admit that it IS rather odd, no?

Most of the antiquities in this museum where dug up during the British Mandate period (1919 - 1948). They are arranged in chronological order from prehistoric times to the Ottoman period.

There are no descriptions next to the items in the display cases but each are numbered carefully. If you would like to read more about the artifacts, just hunt down its corresponding number on the pages kept in the special slots against the wall.


The numbered notes will tell you more about the displays


What you shouldn't miss


The entire building is amazing. Just wandering through the halls and soaking in the atmosphere is already winning but here are some unique highlights:


The ceramics display

Jerusalem has been decorated from like forever by amazing colorful ceramics. The ceramics display in the museum is not only beautiful (and very colorful) but also extremely informative about this ancient art medium.


I learnt a lot about ceramics in this gorgeous display in the museum.


The inner courtyard

Right in the center of the building there is this beautiful courtyard decorated with ancient sarcophagi. It is a great place to rest your feet and listen to the relaxing sound or running water.




The ceramics at the other end of the courtyard

Don't just rest at the courtyard, walk around and discover the pretty hidden corner covered from top to bottom with blue tiles.


Panels from the Holy Sepulchre church

These panels used to decorate the Holy Sepulchre church but was kept for safe-keeping in the museum after a fire. I guess that they stayed at the museum because they are a bit on the fragile side. The curators did an awesome job identifying the figures and symbols on the panels and explaining them.

There is also a cool small model of this church in the museum.


The real Holy Sepulchre church are just a few minutes walk away in the Old City of Jerusalem

The prehistoric stuff

We tend to think of archaeology in Israel with either a religious or "current-ruler" (Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman sultans etc.) focus. But before all of that, Israel was also a land bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe.

In the museum there are quite a large collection of artifacts of the people who lived here WAY back in time.
Ancient figurines showing what women had to do before bras were invented.
Proof that the Flintstones also visited the Holy Land :)

Statues and decorations from Hisham's palace

I have never heard of this palace before. Apparently this palace, that is found just outside Jericho, is one of the desert palaces and was built in the 8th century (more or less).



"Not only is my perm too tight but this roof is starting to get REALLY heavy after a couple of centuries."

Directions to the Rockefeller Archaeological museum


The Rockefeller Archaeological museum is in East Jerusalem at 27 Sultan Suleiman street,
across the street from the Old City Wall.

Parking is limited but it is easy to reach by bus or tram. I took the tram to Damascus Gate and then walked downhill for about 10 minutes. The hexagonal tower of the museum is quite easy to spot.

And the entrance is free! Be sure though to check the museum's website for opening times.