Avigad, E. L. Sukenik, Ruth Amiran, Yair Engel and Yigael Yadin (left to right) at Afula in 1937
Professor Nahman Avigad Examines Pottery
Nahman Avigad (center) with Leen (left) inspecting the stucco work of David Simon during the restoration of the Palatial Mansion
Nahman Avigad studied architecture in what is now the town of Brno, Czechoslovakian Republic. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy in 1952, with a dissertation on the tombs of the Kidron Valley, Jerusalem.
Nahman Avigad emigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1926. He worked in the excavations of the Beth Alpha synagogue and the Hamat Gader synagogue. He taught at Hebrew University from 1949 and until his retirement in 1974.
Nahman Avigad directed the dig at Beit Shearim beginning in 1953. He also worked on the excavations of Masada, the mountaintop complex built by Herod the Great. Nahman Avigad was involved in the exploration of caves in the Judean desert and published one of the Dead Sea scrolls.
In 1969, Nahman Avigad was invited to undertake the excavation of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, devastated by the 1948 war and its aftermath. Among the finds were what was believed to be the earliest depiction of the menorah that once burned in the Second Temple, cut into a wall plastered 2,200 years ago, and the Burnt House, the remnant of a building destroyed when Titus, the future Roman Emperor, repressed the Great Jewish Revolt against Roman rule. This was the first physical or archaeological evidence for the destruction described in the work of Flavius Josephus. The dig also unearthed lavish villas belonging to the Herodian upper classes, remains of the Byzantine Nea (new) Church and Jerusalem"s Cardo, a fifth-century 70-foot (21 m)-the wide road connecting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Nea Church. Among the most exciting finds was the remnants of the Broad Wall twice mentioned in the Book of Nehemiah. Nearby, Nahman Avigad also unearthed the Israelite Tower, a remnant of Jerusalem"s Iron Age fortifications attesting to the Babylonian sack of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
Nahman Avigad published on many topics, notably on Hebrew seals. One of the seals found by him in 1964 has been tentatively identified as belonging to Queen Jezebel, mentioned in the Bible: however, this identification is contested by others.
Quotes from others about the person
According to Bible scholar Frank Moore Cross, Avigad "was Israel’s most distinguished epigraphist in his generation, and one of the great figures in the history of Hebrew and Jewish epigraphy."
Nahman Avigad married Shulamit (née Levin) Avigad in 1928.