Jerusalem’s Palestine Archaeological Museum
Cultural Heritage
Department of Antiquities
Mandate period
Palestine studies

The Palestine Archaeological Museum, renamed by occupation authorities as Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, is a spectacular iconic monument in Jerusalem. This museum tells two intertwined histories: the civilizational history of Palestine across millennia, and the 100- year political conflict that continues over the land of Palestine and its historical narrative. The history of the museum has been closely connected to Palestinian political history in the last century. The museum was initially established in the late Ottoman period and opened its doors in 1901. Following the British occupation of Palestine, the Mandate authorities transferred the museum collection in 1921 to the newly inaugurated Palestine Archaeological Museum. Work to construct new premises for the museum began after 1925, on purchased property known as Karm Shaykh al-Khalili, opposite the Old City, and was finally completed in 1938. It remained under British Mandate administration until the Nakba in 1948, after which it was managed by an international board until Jordan took steps to nationalize it in 1966. Shortly after, the museum was taken over by Israeli occupation troops in 1967 and has since remained under Israeli control, in violation of international and humanitarian laws. The complex consists of the museum buildings, library, and headquarters of the Palestinian (now Israeli) Department of Antiquities. The museum is considered a Palestinian cultural institution under occupation in Jerusalem until its future is decided in the final status negotiations.

Author biography: 

Hamdan Taha is an independent researcher and former deputy minister and director general of the Palestinian Authority’s Department of Antiquities in Palestine between 1994 and 2014. He directed a series of excavations and restoration projects in Palestine, and currently is coordinator of the Palestine History and Heritage Project. He has published many books, field reports, and scholarly articles on Palestinian archaeological heritage.