Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives three-year funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities

National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant for excavations in the ancient city of Jaffa


The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project receives a three-year grant by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for its archaeological excavations. The NEH is a renowned independent federal agency of the U.S. government dedicated to supporting research, education, and preservation in the humanities. As announced by the directors of the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project – Professor Aaron Burke of the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dr. Martin Peilstöcker of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz – the project titled "Insurgency, Resistance, and Interaction: Archaeological Inquiry into New Kingdom Egyptian Rule in Jaffa" receives a three-year funding from 2013 to 2015.

Since 2007 the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project has brought to light the results of earlier excavations from 1955 to 1974 in Jaffa by Jacob Kaplan, the municipal archaeologist of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. One of the primary objectives of this project was to provide a baseline for renewed archaeological exploration of Jaffa in which modern data collection methods and analytical techniques are employed to improve the understanding of the site and its population.

During the Late Bronze Age from ca. 1460 to 1150 BC the city of Jaffa on the coast of southern modern Tel Aviv functioned as an Egyptian garrison, supply-port, and administrative center for Egypt's New Kingdom imperial expansion into Canaan. Work on the earlier excavation records and the renewal of excavations in 2011 and 2012 have revealed an archaeological narrative for a period fraught with conflict and resistance to the Egyptian presence by the region's Canaanite inhabitants, alongside evidence of increasing social interaction. Studies over the past five years reveal that Jaffa provides an ideal archaeological site for assessing the intensity and character of the social interaction between the Egyptian military personnel and local communities as revealed in multiple destruction levels and changing percentages of various types of material culture over time.

Plans for the continuation of excavations at the site employ high-resolution recovery methods intended to obtain a wider array of material evidence such as botanical, faunal, shell, and residue samples indicative of food production, consumption, and local economy during different periods. These samples offer the potential of revealing a narrative of social interaction at one of the most important fortresses within Egyptian imperial control of Canaan over a period of nearly 300 years. This narrative stands in stark contrast to the official rhetoric of the Egyptian crown that, while mentioning continuous efforts to pacify Canaanite settlements, carefully avoids reference to lost Egyptian fortresses, failures, and military losses that typify local resistance, which at times climaxed in outright insurgency. This project thus provides a unique case study of insurgency and social interaction in antiquity that informs similar contexts up to the present.

The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project is a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany, and the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA).