Eleazar Sukenik

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Eleazar Sukenik
E L Sukenik 1951.jpg
Eleazar Sukenik, 1951
Born (1889-08-12)12 August 1889
Died 28 February 1953(1953-02-28) (aged 63)
Nationality Israel
Scientific career
Fields archaeology
Institutions Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Eleazar Lipa Sukenik (12 August 1889, Białystok – 28 February 1953, Jerusalem) was an Israeli archaeologist and professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In Israel his first name is popularly known as "Eliezer".

Having arrived in Palestine in 1911 he worked as a school teacher and tour guide. He participated in the "War of the Languages" that erupted among Zionist activists in Palestine in 1913.

He served in the British army in World War I in the 40th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers which became known as the Jewish Legion.

In addition to his important excavations in Jerusalem (including the "Third Wall" and numerous ossuary tombs) he played a central role in the establishment of the Department of Archaeology of the Hebrew University. He recognized the importance of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Israel and worked for the Israeli state to buy them. In 1948, he published an article tentatively linking the scrolls and their content to a community of Essenes, which became the standard interpretation of the origin of the scrolls, a theory that is still probably the consensus among scholars, but has also been widely questioned. In 1950, he received the Solomon Bublick Award of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for this work.


He was the father of soldier, politician and archaeologist Yigael Yadin, the actor Yossi Yadin (born Joseph Sukenik, 1920-2001),[1] and Mati Sukenik, one of the first pilots of the Israeli Air Force, who was killed in action during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.[2]

He and his wife, Chassia, were buried in the Sanhedria Cemetery near the Tombs of the Sanhedrin which he researched. Unlike the other graves in the cemetery, which are covered by uniform limestone blocks, the couple's gravestones are uniquely decorated with carvings and motifs of the Second Temple era.[3]

He was the paternal uncle of Herbert Sukenik.[4]


  • Ancient Synagogues in Palestine and Greece (Schweich Lectures of the British Academy for 1930). London, 1934.
  • The Third Wall of Jerusalem: An Account of Excavations. Jerusalem: University Press, 1930
  • The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alpha. An Account of the Excavations conducted on behalf of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. Jerusalem: Oxford University Press: London, 1932.
  • Samaria-Sebaste Reports of the Work of the Joint Expedition in 1931-1933, and of the British Expedition in 1935. London, 3 volumes 1938, 1942, 1957.

As editor

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University. Magnes Press, Hebrew University: Jerusalem, 1955.


  1. ^ Internet Movie Database (IMDb), Yossi Yadin
  2. ^ Aviva and Shmuel Bar-Am, At Tel Aviv Port, once the gateway into the Land of Israel, Times of Israel, December 19, 2015
  3. ^ "Introduction to the Reprint" in Sukenik, Eleazar Lipa. The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alpha: An Account of the Excavations Conducted on Behalf of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. 1975: Gorgias Press, ISBN 1593330782, p. v.
  4. ^ "Hotel hermit got $17M to make way for 15 Central Park West". New York Post. 2 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Goldman, Bernard (1966). The Sacred Portal: a primary symbol in ancient Judaic art. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.  A book on an important synagogue mosaic discovered by Sukenik in 1928.