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Moshe Kochavi (1928–2008)

November 2008

Moshe KochaviProfessor Moshe Kochavi, a founding faculty member of Tel Aviv University’s Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, died on February 4, 2008, after a long illness. He was 79.

Kochavi studied archaeology at the Hebrew University under Yohanan Aharoni and later collaborated with him to establish the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, serving twice as its director.

Combining his study of archaeology with geography and geographical history, Kochavi conducted the first major archaeological survey of the Judean hill country in 1967—1968, just after the Six-Day War.

Moshe Kochavi was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1928 and immigrated with his family to British Mandate Palestine when he was five years old. He served as a combat medic during the 1947 War of Independence and was wounded twice.

In 1949 he married his wife, Nora, a ceramic specialist who worked closely with him on many projects and passed away after 50 years of marriage.

In 1955 Kochavi began his studies in archaeology and participated in excavations at Hazor with Yigael Yadin, and at Ramat Rah.el with Yohanan Aharoni, whom he also assisted in the Negev and Judean Desert surveys. He received his Ph.D. in 1967 from the Hebrew University, based on his own excavations at sites in the Negev.

In 1972 Kochavi began 14 seasons of excavation at Aphek-Antipatris, during which he made great advances in the study of ceramic typography and the Egyptian presence in Canaan during the Bronze Age.

Kochavi also led the excavation of Iron Age Izbet Sartah, the likely location of Biblical Ebenezer, from 1976 to 1978.

Kochavi taught at Tel Aviv University from 1968 until his retirement in 1997, but he also held positions throughout his career at Oxford, Harvard, Tokyo, Toronto and New York Universities. He was chairperson of the Israel Archaeological Council (1999—2000) and Governing Council member of the Israel Exploration Society.

His work has inspired some of his students—among them Israel Finkelstein, Zvi Gal and Adam Zertal—to perform surveys of large areas of Israel, including the hill country and Shephelah.—D.D.R.

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