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Current Newsletter

The Orion Center Newsletter

May 2003


Center Awards New Post-Doctoral Fellowships

The Hebrew University has allotted to the Orion Center a total of $15,000 per year for the three academic years 2003-2006, to be used in research grants. The Center's Academic Committee decided to consolidate this money in grants for post-doctoral research at the University, to be used in the area of Dead Sea Scrolls and related literature.
The Fellowship recipients are:
Dr. Noah Hacham, Dept. of Jewish History, The Hebrew University
Ronit Nikolsky, Dept. of Comparative Religion, The Hebrew University
Dr. Hacham received one of the earliest Orion Center research grants in 1996-97, for work on 3 Maccabees. His dissertation was entitled, "The Third Book of Maccabees: Literature, History, and Ideology," and his post-doctoral project is the preparation of a Hebrew translation of and commentary on 3 Maccabees. Dr. Nikolsky wrote her dissertation on the History of the Rechabites. She was also assisted by an Orion Center grant (2000-2001). Her on-going research addresses the development of traditions about the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.
It is gratifying that the Center has been able to support these promising young scholars at earlier and later stages of their research. The new fellowships represent the University's recognition of the continuing importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls on the HU academic horizon, and are a vote of confidence in the Orion Center's visionary place within the University community.


University Heads Tour Shrine of the Book

On Thursday, 9 Adar, 13 March, 2003, the Orion Center arranged a tour of the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book for University President, Prof. Menachem Magidor; Rector, Prof. Haim Rabinovitch; Pro-Rector, Prof. Mara Beller; and Vice President and Director General, Mr. Moshe Vigdor. The tour was led by Dr. Esther Chazon, Orion Center Director, and Dr. Adolfo Roitman, Curator, the Shrine of the Book.

The program began with an explanation of the Shrine's regular exhibits. One of the highlights of the morning was entrance into the "safe room" where the Scrolls belonging to the Hebrew University are stored. Ms. Penina Shor, Director of the Artifacts Treatment and Conservation Department of the Israel Antiquities Authority, guided the group in a visit to the Scrolls Preservation Laboratory, where they learned how the Scrolls are restored and preserved. Dr. Sylvia Rosenberg, Chief Curator of the Israel Museum's Archaeology Department, also participated.

The event concluded with a luncheon in the Museum's Atrium Restaurant, where participants were joined by Prof. Michael Stone, Head of the Orion Center's Academic Committee, and Mr. James Snyder, the Israel Museum's Director. Further collaboration is planned between the Orion Center, the Hebrew University Humanities and Science and Faculties, the IAA and the Museum, in the area of Scrolls conservation and decipherment, using the latest scientific techniques.


Science and the Scrolls

For several years, The Orion Center has been involved in a fruitful collaboration with members of the Science and Antiquities Group at the Hebrew University's Kuvin Centre for the Study of Infectious and Tropical Diseases. The members of this group work with a variety of research partners in applying scientific research methods to archaeological problems. Our cooperative Jerusalem Task Force for Science and Scrolls, chaired jointly by Prof. Charles Greenblatt of the Kuvin Centre and Prof. Michael Stone, Head of the Orion Center's Academic Committee, provides a vehicle for the application of scientific and forensic techniques to the study of the materials found in the Judean Desert.

This month, a session of the Greenfield Scholars' Seminar has been given over to Task Force presentations, on the subject Technologies of Ancient Writing Materials. The seminar features the work of Sara Oren, a graduate student and Orion Research Grant recipient, and Dr. Azriel Gorski, a senior member of the Science and Antiquities Group (see Calendar below).

Dr. Gorski notes, "At least three stories exist in any manuscript: the ideas of the writer," the "materials and technologies used" to record these ideas, and "the environment and climate in which the manuscript was either manufactured or used," revealed in e.g., pollen grains, or food and drink traces, found on written materials. Taken together, these stories yield a broader story of the activities associated with the culture that produced the ideas. It requires a "marriage of disciplines," says Gorski, to access and use the "treasure of information" hidden in ancient manuscripts.


Center News

Dr. Esther Chazon is on sabbatical this semester through the end of the summer, to work on several research projects. We wish her a productive break from the Center routine and look forward to her return next semester. Dr. Ze'ev Weiss of the Archaeology Institute has been appointed in the interim as the Center's Acting Director, with the assistance of Dr. Noah Hacham, Department of Jewish History, as Associate Director; they will serve until August, 2003.

David Emanuel has left the Center to join an editorial project elsewhere in the University. We wish him well in this new endeavor. The position of Orion Webmaster has been filled by Yael Bezalel Eliahoo, who comes to the Center with a B.A. from Tel Aviv University and extensive experience in Web design.

We welcome our new colleagues and appreciate the diversity of skills and perspectives they bring to the Orion Center. At the same time, a special word of appreciation is due to the Orion Staff who have remained constant through this period of transitions, keeping the office and our programs running: Ariella Amir, Administrative Manager; Ruth Clements, Head of Publications; and Shelly Zilberfarb-Eshkoli, Research Assistant in charge of the Scholars' Room.