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In Memoriam

Avraham Ronen (1935-2018)

Daniel Kaufman et Mina Weinstein-Evron
p. 5-6

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Avraham Ronen at Tabun Cave in 2011

Avraham Ronen at Tabun Cave in 2011

Photo R. Shimelmitz

1Our dear teacher, colleague and friend Prof. Avraham Ronen, passed away unexpectedly the 22nd December 2018. Avraham received his B.A. in Archaeology and Geography in 1959 from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He then commenced graduate studies in the Laboratoire de Géologie du Quaternaire et de Préhistoire at the University of Bordeaux under the supervision of François Bordes and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1963. Upon returning to Israel, Avraham assumed a position in the Department of Archaeology of the Tel Aviv University and was there until 1975 when he began his long association with the University of Haifa. He took a leading part in the establishment of the Department of Archaeology, and played a crucial role in recruiting excellent lecturers to the department and establishing its curriculum. In addition to his teaching, Avraham made significant contributions to the university in many ways. He served as chair of the Department of Land of Israel Studies and as dean of the Faculty of Humanities. As the founder and first head of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology, his leadership led to the wide range of researches that are now carried out in the institute.

2As a prehistorian, Avraham’s interests seem to have known no bounds. In one way or another, he literally touched upon all periods from the Lower Paleolithic onward and dealt with all of the major research questions relating to Levantine Pre-history. To mention just a few of his contributions, he participated, together with Yaakov Olami, in the Prehistoric Survey of the Carmel, a project that marked an important milestone in the Prehistory of the region. This survey led to his work at Sefunim Cave and Tirat Carmel, and his long-term project since 1973 at Tabun Cave.

3One of Avraham’s primary subjects of concentration was human evolution, particularly the emergence of modern humans and subsequent population dispersals to which he dedicated several publications and planned a number of international symposia. Avraham organised in 1980 the first international meeting of Prehistory to be held in the country, in order to commemorate the 50th anniversary of excavations in the Mount Carmel caves by D.A.E. Garrod. This symposium held at the University of Haifa provided fruitful discussions on transitions in Prehistory and the origins of modern humans, and was published in 1982.

4Avraham was especially fascinated by issues relating to symbolic behavior with special attention to mortuary practices and, for the latter, their possible and enigmatic relationships to human control and use of fire. In addition, Avraham’s analysis of Upper Paleolithic assemblages from the Carmel and Galilee in the 1970s preceded and provided significant support to new thinking that led to the now generally accepted model incorporating the Ahmarian and Aurignacian traditions. Mention must also be made of Avraham’s innovative and to some, controversial, thinking concerning the walls of Jericho and the process of the Neolithisation of Cyprus.

5As an excellent flint knapper, Avraham dealt with issues relating to questions of lithic technology and its development through time. This led him to participate in an experiment in which bonobo chimpanzees produced lithic artifacts in order to gain insights into animal behavior and human biological and cultural evolution.

6In addition, Avraham maintained a continuing interest in Pleistocene stratigraphy and paleoenvironmental change as evidenced by his archaeological surveys from the Yir’on-Bar‘am plateaus in the Upper Galilee in the north to the Kissufim area in the south. He was deeply involved in the study of the Pleistocene geology of the coastal plain and the effect of sea-level changes and their impact on human evolution and adaptations. This led him to explore in depth two of the oldest Levantine sites, Evron and Ruhama. Within this framework, he emphasised concepts of landscape archaeology and the importance of viewing sites within their environmental settings. Avraham’s interests lay in the distant past but at the same time, he had an eye toward the future and the advancement of archaeological research. This is evidenced, first, in his dedication to teaching. He was a stimulating teacher as evidenced by the many students who became educators and conducted their own independent research under his guidance. Secondly, and most significantly, he long recognised the importance of multi-disciplinary research and worked with many scholars in fields ranging from the natural to social sciences. It was this approach that eventually became the foundation of the Zinman Institute of Archaeology and the resulting numerous and varied projects conducted through its auspices.

7Avraham’s numerous publications, touching on an exceptionally broad variety of topics have received accolades from scholars in Israel and beyond, as have his many presentations at international conferences. All of these have served as a source of inspiration to many and will continue to do so for generations to come.

8Finally, Avraham’s contributions lie not only in his research. He has also served the archaeological community through his activities in the Israel Antiquities Authority, the National Council for Archaeology, the Israel Prehistoric Society, the Israel Exploration Society and the International Union of Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP).

9Avraham will be remembered for his curiosity and enthusiasm. Long after his official retirement from the university, he continued to be interested in the research of others, always willing to consult with students and colleagues, regularly visiting on-going excavations, and participating in and organising international scientific conferences and workshops.

10Avraham will be sorely missed but his legacy will live on.

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Titre Avraham Ronen at Tabun Cave in 2011
Crédits Photo R. Shimelmitz
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Daniel Kaufman et Mina Weinstein-Evron, « Avraham Ronen (1935-2018) »Paléorient, 45-1 | 2019, 5-6.

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Daniel Kaufman et Mina Weinstein-Evron, « Avraham Ronen (1935-2018) »Paléorient [En ligne], 45-1 | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2021, consulté le 21 juillet 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Daniel Kaufman

Zinman Institute Archaeology, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Avenue, Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838 – Israel

Mina Weinstein-Evron

Zinman Institute Archaeology, University of Haifa, 199 Aba Khoushy Avenue, Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838 – Israel

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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