About Us

The Kenyon Institute (KI) is the home of British research and intellectual life in Israel/Palestine. As the Jerusalem institute of the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), it has become a hub for local and international researchers from diverse fields. Based in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, the KI is one of the leading academic centres in the region, seeking to serve both British scholarship and the local academic community.

History

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Entrance to the Kenyon Institute

The Kenyon Institute (KI), which was officially launched in 2001, caters for the humanities, social sciences and all the academic disciplines supported by the British Academy. It has sought to build on the rich legacy of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ) which was established during the British Mandate in 1919. The BSAJ was incorporated within the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL) in 1998, and after a short period of having an office in the British Council, the CBRL moved into the former BSAJ building in Sheikh Jarrah.

The KI is home to two resident researchers, the Director and the Research Scholar who, in addition to running the KI, pursue their own scholarship. We fund Visiting Research Fellows each year and host British, international and local scholars at our regular lecture series; in addition to holding conferences and workshops. A number of research projects are also affiliated with us and make use of our facilities.

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The library reading room

Enjoying a prime position in a late Ottoman villa in East Jerusalem (a few doors from the British Consulate General), the KI boasts excellent research facilities. The library holds a broad collection dealing with the history of Palestine and Israel, as well as contemporary issues, however it is renowned for its archaeological and art historical collection. We also have a substantial collection of rare books not available at other institutions. The KI offers guest rooms for visitors, research space and archaeological equipment. Its facilities and historic reputation for international scholarship makes the KI one of the academic landmarks in Israel/Palestine.

British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and Kathleen Kenyon

The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (BSAJ) was founded in 1919 by Robert Mond, who became its first Treasurer following the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine. The BSAJ's first Director was Professor John Garstang and its UK offices were at the Palestine Exploration Fund in London; indeed the BSAJ and the Palestine Exploration Fund remained closely linked for the following 50 years. Professor Garstang was also appointed Director of the new Palestine Department of Antiquities in July 1920, and held the joint appointment for some years.

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Trip to Hazor: (left to right) Yigael Yadin, Kathleen Kenyon, Claire Epstein, Cecil Western

The BSAJ was initially intended as a training ground for the Department and, following a process of familiarisation and survey in Palestine by its staff, the first excavations were undertaken at Harbaj, Amr and Kussis in 1922 and the results recorded in the pages of the new Bulletin of the BSAJ. The Assistant Director of the School, W.J. Phythian-Adams, also directed the excavations of the Palestine Exploration Fund at Ascalon, (Ashkelon), and was responsible for the organisation of the Palestine Museum. By 1924 the BSAJ was running classes in excavation training and seminars on excavation method, which were attended by representatives of the American School and the Ecole Biblique, with whom there existed close relations. By 1923 the work of the BSAJ was extended to Dor on the Mediterranean coast, and to Amman in Transjordan.

During this time the library was greatly improved by the gift of books donated by Phythian-Adams, and the BSAJ also benefited from the financial support of Robert Mond. In 1924, K.A.C. Creswell's work on the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem was published by the BSAJ. Also in 1924 Horsfield began work at the Amman citadel and the following year at Jarash; John Crowfoot also excavated at Jarash between 1928 and 1930. Robert Hamilton, who joined the Department of Antiquities in 1931 and became its Director in 1938, first came to Palestine under the aegis of the BSAJ and participated in Crowfoot's excavations at Jarash. Crowfoot went on to direct the Joint Expedition to Samaria from 1931-1935.

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Jerusalem excavations 1961

In 1952, after the hiatus of World War II, Kathleen Kenyon re-established the BSAJ as an educational charity in receipt of grant-aid from the British Academy and it was the principal sponsor of her excavations at Jericho (1952-1958). In 1957 Kenyon established the BSAJ in the Husseini Building in East Jerusalem, and during the summer it was the base for her major excavations in Jerusalem (1961-1967).

A small hostel was established, a secretary/librarian, annual students (British and Commonwealth) and eventually a director were appointed. The library, which had been cared for in the American School, was installed in the new building. In 1967 the BSAJ moved to the Kenyon Institute's current premises in Sheikh Jarrah, the former home of the British Consul in East Jerusalem. Many excavations were conducted in the region during these years, including those at Iskander, Petra, Beidha, Umm el-Biyara, Samaria, Tarabi, Ghassul, Iktanu and Amman. In 1968 the BSAJ began a major project to survey the surviving Mamluk buildings in Jerusalem, which was later continued by surveys of Ottoman Jerusalem and Crusader and Islamic Palestine.

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Crystal Bennett, director of the BSAJ, 1970-77

The BSAJ had always sponsored projects elsewhere in the region, but this became increasingly difficult after 1967. In 1968 two truckloads of excavation and camp equipment were moved from the BSAJ east of the Jordan and in 1975 Crystal Bennett, the Director of the BSAJ, set up the (as yet unofficial) British Institute of Archaeology in Amman. Bennett remained the director of the BSAJ as well as directing the Amman Institute and, with the permission of the British Academy, divided her time between the two. In 1978, the British Academy first provided grant-in-aid for the institute in Amman, now titled the British Institute at Amman for Archaeology and History (BIAAH). Bennett, who had retired from the BSAJ, became its full-time director.

Twenty years later, following a review of its research centres abroad in 1998, the British Academy decided that the division of British research into areas covered by the BSAJ and the BIAAH should be brought back together under a single body, the Council for British Research in the Levant (CBRL).  

Further reading on the history of the BSAJ:

Auld, A.G. 1993. The British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem, pp. 23-26 in A. Biran and J. Aviram (eds) Biblical Archaeology Today, 1990. Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem.

Davies, G.I. 1988. British Archaeologists, pp. 37-62 in J.F. Drinkard, G.L. Mattingly and J.M. Miller (eds) Benchmarks in Time and Culture: An introduction to Palestinian Archaeology, Atlanta.

Gibson, S. 1999. British Archaeological Institutions in Mandatory Palestine, 1917-1948. Palestine Exploration Quarterly 131, 115-143.

 

Dame Kathleen Kenyon DBE, D.Lit, FBA, FSA

Kathleen Mary Kenyon was born in London on January 5th, 1906, the elder daughter of Sir Frederic Kenyon, the Director of the British Museum. She was educated at St Paul's Girls School in London, and at Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern History and became the first woman president of the Oxford Archaeological Society in Michaelmas Term, 1927. Throughout her life she served on countless other archaeological committees. Her first real venture into field archaeology was to Zimbabwe with Miss G. Caton-Thompson in 1929. Thereafter her career was almost entirely in archaeology, initially working with the Wheelers at Verulamium in the UK.

During the 1930s and 1940s she participated in or directed five excavations in England, and played an important role in the Crowfoot excavations at Samaria in Palestine (1931 - 1934). During World War II, she worked for the Red Cross in London, in 1942 becoming Director of the Youth Department, where she ran a highly successful recruitment campaign. From 1935 to 1948 she was Secretary at the Institute of Archaeology in London (Acting-Director 1942-1946).  She was Lecturer at the Institute from 1948 to 1962.

After the war, she directed excavations first at Sabratha in North Africa (1948-9), and then from 1952 to 1958 at Jericho in Palestine, followed from 1961 to 1967 by her excavations at Jerusalem. The work at Jericho was ground-breaking at the time, and made world headlines especially for the discovery of the Neolithic tower and walls, and the details unearthed of the Mesolithic and Neolithic inhabitants. The work at Jerusalem was on a massive scale, and contributed substantially to her aim of putting the archaeology of that great city on a firm stratigraphic footing for the first time.

At the same time that she began work at Jericho, in 1952 she refounded the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem which had lapsed since before World War II, and served as its first Director until 1965/6 and became its Chairman in 1968, a role she fulfilled until her death. Apart from her many achievements in the field, she was also remarkable for her encouragement of the young, was a notable lecturer, and a great administrator; all qualities which more than deserved her many honours.

In 1962 she was appointed Principal of St Hugh's College, Oxford until her retirement in 1973. One of the college buildings is named in her memory.  She continued in active work on publication and committees until her death on 24 August, 1978 at the age of 72. The five volumes of final reports on Jericho was almost complete at the time, and the long list of her publications is given in the Festschrift published in her honour in 1978.