Hanan Eshel, a world-renowned expert in the archaeology and history of both the First and Second Temple periods passed away on April 8, 2010, at the age of 51 after a long battle with cancer. He was buried the same day at Kibbutz Ma‘ale Hahamisha.
Professor Eshel was born in Rehovot on July 25, 1958. He attended the Or ‘Etzion yeshiva high school and performed his military service from 1977 to 1980. In 1982 he started studying archaeology and Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees magna cum laude. In 1994 he received his Ph.D. from the university; his dissertation was on the Samaritans in the Persian and Hellenistic periods. After a year as a postdoctoral fellow and guest lecturer at Harvard University, Hanan was appointed a senior lecturer in the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology at Bar-Ilan University in 1996, and within just three years he was named an associate professor. He chaired the department from 2002 to 2004, and shortly before his death was promoted to full professor.
His research interests included most prominently the Dead Sea Scrolls, the settlement at Qumran, the Bar-Kokhba Revolt, numismatics and historical geography.
He excavated the refuge caves on Ketef Jericho (with Boaz Zissu), where he discovered documents from the Persian period and Bar-Kokhba period.