Yuval Yekutieli

Who killed the people from Cave 3? Competing archaeological narratives at the Judean Desert

In the early 1960s top Israeli archaeologists were taken on a state-sponsored mission of rescuing ancient scrolls, supposedly hidden in the Judean Desert caves from looting. One team of archaeologists managed climbing three extremely hard-to-access caves hanging over the cliffs of Nahal Mishmar (Mishmar canyon). In these caves they were amazed to discover unique archaeological treasures, as well as skeletons of 21 children, women and men. A forensic investigation discovered that those individuals died from severe violence, hundreds to thousands of years ago. Who were these people? Why and when did they die? Who buried them in this almost inaccessible place?

Throughout the years, various proposals were offered to explain this unresolved mystery, which are deeply embedded within some meta-narratives of modern Israeli society.

The talk will survey the debate on this issue and its significance for the question of competing archaeological narratives.

Yuval Yekuteli will be joined by Professor Mark Jarzombek for a discussion and Q&A. 

 This talk is sponsored by MISTI Israel as part of the 2019 'Digital Archeology, Virtual Narratives' Design-Research Workshop.

Yuval Yekutieli

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Yuval Yekutieli is a senior lecturer at the Department of Bible, Archaeology and the Ancient Near East at Ben-Gurion University (BGU) of the Negev. He did his BA and PhD at BGU, and MA at Tel-Aviv University. Yuval was a visiting scholar at NYU (2008-9), the head of BGU’s Archaeology Division (2011-2013), and a visiting scholar at Oxford University (2015).

His fieldwork is conducted in Israel. His main current research, supported by the Israel Science Foundation, studies the Egyptian Colony in Southwest Canaan in the Early Bronze Age 1. As part of this project, he co-directs (together with Polish partners of the Jagiellonian University) an international team in the renewed excavations of Tel Erani, and a BGU team at the site of Mitzpe Sde-Hafir in the Negev Highlands. In previous years he conducted a survey in the southern Judean Desert, studied the late New Kingdom miners' ‘social landscape’ at the Timna copper mines, and directed many salvage excavations.

His publications deal with topics such as Levantine Early Bronze Age, ancient colonialism, proto-urbanism, arid-zones archaeology, landscape archaeology, operation of power in antiquity, Social aspects of Bronze Age iconography, and the so-called "Early Bronze Age Aniconic Reformation".