Publication Date


Document Type



The creation of the first Museum of Antiquities in Jerusalem during the late Ottoman period is a fascinating story of archaeological pursuits in the region by both Ottoman government officialdom in Istanbul and foreign archaeologists working in Palestine for the British Palestine Exploration Fund. The Ottoman Museum called the Muze-I Humayun in Turkish or Imperial Museum (1901-1917) and its collection is continuous with the British Palestine Museum of Antiquities (1921-1930) and the Palestine Archaeological Museum. The construction of the last began in 1930 and was completed in 1935, but the museum, now known as the Rockefeller Museum, did not open until 1938. Between 1922 and 1935 the British encouraged the creation of a museum for Islamic Art (1922) and one for Jewish Art. The history of the museum from the Ottoman Period through the British Mandate Period (1917-1948) is well documented in sources located in the Ottoman National Archives in Istanbul, the Mandate Period Archives of the Department of Antiquities housed in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, the Palestine Exploration Fund (PEF) archives in London, and the Sijillat al-Mahkama al-Shar’iya (Religious Court Registers) of Jerusalem

Original Citation

St. Laurent, B. & Taskomur, H. (2013), The Imperial Museum of Antiquities in Jerusalem, 1890-1930: An Alternative Narrative. Jerusalem Quarterly, 55, 6-45.