Institute of Archaeology

Institute of Archaeology
at Ariel University

Institute of Archaeology

The ‘Einot Amitai Archaeological Project

‘Einot Amitai, near Nazareth in northern Israel, is a cave which functioned as a quarry and industrial workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels in the Roman period. The large subterranean cavern, hewn into a chalkstone hillside, has yielded numerous remains of stone vessels in various stages of production, attesting to a thriving industry.

In ancient times, most tableware, cooking pots and storage jars were made of pottery. In the first century of the Common Era, however, Jews throughout Judea and Galilee used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone. The reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious; according to ancient halakhah (Jewish ritual law), vessels made of stone can never become ritually impure, and as a result ancient Jews began to produce their everyday tableware from stone.

The goal of the ‘Einot Amitai Archaeological Project is to shed light on the production and use of chalkstone vessels in the Galilee during the Roman period by conducting archaeological excavations at ‘Einot Amitai. The significance of this project, however, reaches far beyond the limited question of chalkstone vessel production and usage in the Galilee, as it touches upon fundamental questions regarding the development of early halakhah and the character of Jewish religion and society in Galilee during the first centuries of the Common Era. The project is part of the Institute’s larger Origins of Judaism Archaeological Project which studies archaeological and textual evidence on the origins and subsequent development of ancient halakhah.

Excavations at ‘Einot Amitai are directed by Dr. Yonatan Adler on behalf of The Institute of Archaeology at Ariel University and are funded by generous grants from the Israel Science Foundation, Biblical Archaeology Society and Ariel University. Following a preliminary probe conducted at the site by the late Dr. David Amit in 2001, the first three seasons of full-scale excavations took place in 2016–2018 with the assistance of Dr. Dennis Mizzi (University of Malta), together with students and faculty members from Ariel University, Stockholm School of Theology (Sweden), University of Helsinki (Finland), University of Potsdam (Germany), University of Malta, Polytechnic University of Turin (Italy), Jagiellonian University (Poland), University of Lausanne (Switzerland), University of Oxford (U.K.), University of Toronto (Canada), and Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne (USA).

For further information on volunteering or tax-exempt donations to the project, please contact the project director, Dr. Yonatan Adler: