The history of archaeology in Palestine and Israel has been the object of numerous research projects and publications over the past fifty years. Scholars from various disciplines observed from historical, anthropological, archaeological perspectives the establishment and development of archaeology on local, regional, and sometimes global scales. Lately, a more systematic use of archives deepened our understanding of the multiple institutions and actors (offering greater visibility to local figures) involved in the practice of archaeology and knowledge it produces, therefore renewing this field of research.
Within this rich historiography, prehistoric archaeology in Palestine and Israel is still overlooked. Yet it is an integral part of the first scientific explorations of Palestine which began in the 19th century. Conducted by foreign scholars, diplomats, religious and laymen and women, engineers of the army, amateurs of antiquities and natural history, these expeditions played a major role in the shaping of the discipline as a whole and therefore of prehistoric archaeology. Over time, the establishment of national, religious, or academic institutions specialized in the field of archaeology in Jerusalem encouraged the development of prehistoric research in the region.
In its early stages prehistoric archaeology was mainly produced by scholars of West and East- European origins which were overtime joined by local prehistorians. These specialists, from various origins and of different backgrounds, collaborated in the field while navigating between local and international scientific institutions. Consequently, prehistoric archaeology was influenced and structured overtime by different schools of thoughts on theoretical and methodological levels while material remains were examined from multiple scientific angles. By soliciting contributions on these topics, our workshop represents an opportunity to reflect on the construction of prehistory in Palestine and examine its diverse origins and international scope – which persisted in the newly founded State of Israel after 1948. For example, through the figure of Jean Perrot who founded the French Research Center in Jerusalem in the 1950s – or the influence of the “New archaeology” school on Israeli Prehistory.