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Archaeological missions

The Italian archaeological presence in Jerusalem is strictly linked to the Franciscan mission and the names of the great Italian archaeologists (Father Michele Piccirillo, Father Bellarmino Bagatti, Father Virgilio Corbo, Father Pietro Kaswalder, and Father Stanislao Loffreda) who tirelessly worked to bring to light the enormous cultural heritage associated with the Custody and related to eight centuries of Franciscan presence in the Holy Land.

Although more recent in chronological terms, the Italian archaeological presence in Palestine is equally significant, dating back to the establishment of the Palestinian National Authority in the 1990s and the creation of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, including a Department of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage (MoTA-DACH) tasked with ensuring the protection and enhancement of archaeological, architectural, historical, and anthropological assets in Palestine.

From the outset, Italian archaeologists, particularly through the University La Sapienza in Rome, have provided valuable technical and scientific cooperation to MoTA-DACH, which was tasked with establishing a heritage protection service from scratch, equipping it with tools for the control and preservation of monuments and archaeological sites, landscapes, and the tangible and intangible cultural and historical heritage of the West Bank.

Italy can thus claim a highly prominent role in archaeology in Jerusalem and Palestine, with recognition not only at the local but also at the international level, thanks to ongoing missions—some of which have been present for many years—that have contributed to its enhancement over time.

The ongoing missions, financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, are:

1. Mission led by Prof. Lorenzo Nigro – University of Rome La Sapienza – “Jericho: archaeology, restoration, and sustainable development.”

2. Mission led by Prof. Serenella Ensoli – University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” – “Archaeology in Palestine. Mapping of Greco-Roman sites; pilot projects with innovative technologies; Mpc; training; capacity building.”

3. Mission led by Prof. Fulvia Ciliberto/University of Molise – “Protection, study, and enhancement of a museum heritage.”

4. Mission led by Dr. Daria Montanari – University of Rome La Sapienza – “Bethlehem: urban archaeology, preservation, and enhancement.”