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English translation
Dominique Bourel
p. 5-6

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1This issue of the Bulletin coincides with the anniversary of the founding of the Centre français de Jérusalem. Fifty years ago, Jean Perrot welcomed his first official assistants in the following terms: “My field work began in 1952 […] At that time I was exploring the Wadi Zumeli site. The conditions in the field were horrible: the Negev weather can be pleasant but during the month of August, with sand storms and 40 degrees C. temperature, it was hell”. He received funding from the CRNS and the Excavation Commission of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.1

2For many years, there was a French presence in what was, at that time, merely a distant province of the Ottoman Empire, but no large academic centers were ever built, as was the case in Athens, Rome or Cairo2. A French consulate opened in 1843 and provided considerable assistance to the many Catholic denominations that came to follow in the footsteps of the founder of Christianity. The pioneering excavations can be attributed to Felix de Saulcy who was in the Galilee and around the Dead Sea in 1850; he also excavated the Tomb of the Kings in Jerusalem in 1863, after having discovered the site as early as 1851. This particular investigation has recently been re-examined by a Center fellowship recipient3. The curiosity manifested by archeologists and prehistorians has never waned. Ernest Renan, Victor Guerin, the Duc de Luynes, Marquis Melchoir de Vogüé, Charles Clermont-Ganneau and then Père Lagrange and the prestigious École Biblique founded in 1890 made decisive contributions to knowledge of the land of the Bible. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, the concept of the Holy Land has gradually been honed: the political, commercial, religious and academic spheres have continued to over-invest in this tiny piece of land4. The British Exploration Fund saw the day in 1865 and the Deutscher Palestina-Verein was founded in 1877. Science was the vehicle for the rapid spread of political and cultural influence, as can be seen by the inauguration of the Deutsches evangelisches institut für Altertumswissenschaft des heiligen Landes in 1903. Mandatory Palestine5 saw a rapid rise in research: the British School for Archeology was founded in 1919 and the American School of Oriental Research started up again after having been founded in 1900. Last but not least was the Société orientale de Palestine: founded in 1920 it brought together Jewish and Arab researchers. A chair of archeology was endowed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1925. It was awarded to Eliezer Sukeinik6 in 1938. Consul René Neuville, an archeologist and a prehistorian, prolonged this French tradition in Jerusalem from 1928 to 1937. After WWII, when he returned to Jerusalem in 1946, he encouraged Jean Perrot to be his successor. He began to excavate in the Negev; he was at Abu Matar in September 1953, and directed eight missions in the region until 19617. A description can be found elsewhere in this volume of the slow maturation of the “French Archeological Mission” into the “Centre de recherche français de Jérusalem” which expanded in the 1980s to include the humanities and social sciences. After an interim period under the sociologist Jacques Caroux (CNRS), François Blanchetière, professor of the history of religion at the University of Strasbourg became the director in 1992 of the UMR, which I inherited from him in 1996.

3We felt it was opportune for this issue to momentarily drop our regular reports on activities which appear regularly in these pages by researchers, fellowship recipients, lecturers and our colleagues, and to ask several specialists to present a short overview, in terms accessible to the entire scientific community, of investigations carried out in Jerusalem and in Israel. Bernard Vandermeersch, the former president of the Scientific Board of the Center, begins this issue. Professor at the University of Bordeaux, he directed the major excavations at Qafzeh, Kebara and Hayonim8 between 1965 and 2000. François Valla (CNRS) is a regular guest of the Center where he was a researcher for many years; he presents some of his findings. Frank Alvarez-Pereyre has analyzed and coordinated works in anthropology and linguistics for a considerable time; he was a major mover as regards the reorientation of the Center in the 1980s, which added the humanities and social sciences to archeology and prehistory. Finally, as current director of the Center I provide a brief presentation of the history, philosophy and political science programs in the areas of Jewish and non-Jewish regional cultures.

4As this issue goes to press (April 2002) the political situation is extremely tense. We plan to hold an International Conference in Jerusalem to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Center (October 28-30, 2002). A provisional schedule is included in this issue, which once again, owes much to Eva Telkes-Klein.

Map: Excavations since 1950

Map: Excavations since 1950
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1 Jean Perrot, Et ils sortirent du Paradis. Carnets d’un archéologue en Orient 1945-1995, Paris, 1997, p. 87 et passim.
2 Eve Gran-Aymerich, Naissance de l’archéologie moderne, 1798-1945, Paris, 1998, and her Dictionnaire biographique d’archéologie 1798-1945, Paris, 2001.
3 Jean Sylvain Caillou, L’invention du tombeau des rois. De David à Jésus. Jerusalem, 2002 (dissertation in fulfillment of the EBAF degree).
4 Henry Laurens, La question de la Palestine, vol. 1, 1799-1922. L’invention de la terre sainte, Paris, 1999. Dominique Trimbur and Ran Aronsohn (eds), De Bonaparte à Balfour. La France, l’Europe occidentale et la Palestine, 1799-1917. Paris, 2001, (Mélanges du CRFJ, vol. 3).
5 See the comprehensive overview by Yehoshua Ben Arieh: “Foreign institutions for archeology and research on Palestine during the British Mandate” (Heb.) in Cathedra, 92, 1999, pp. 135-172, 93, 1999, pp. 111-142.
6 See Eva Telkes-Klein, L'Université Hébraique de Jérusalem à travers ses acteurs. La première génération de professeurs 1925-1948, Paris 2002 (in press).
7 J. Perrot, op.cit. as well as his synthesis Syrie Palestine, vol 1, Paris 1978, and numerous other publications under his direction, as well as Catherine Nicault, Le CNRS dans l’Orient compliqué. Centre de recherche francais de Jérusalem: in La Revue pour l’histoire du CNRS 5, 2001, pp. 24-35.
8 The map provides a detailed illustration of the sites excavated by Center researchers since that time and up to the present day.
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Titre Map: Excavations since 1950
Fichier image/jpeg, 48k
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Dominique Bourel, « Editorial », Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem, 10 | 2002, 5-6.

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Dominique Bourel, « Editorial », Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem [En ligne], 10 | 2002, mis en ligne le 24 janvier 2008, Consulté le 24 juin 2018. URL :

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Dominique Bourel

Director, CRFJ.

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