BAR 33:02, Mar/Apr 2007
Yizhar Hirschfeld (1950–2006)
The archaeological community in Israel, and all over the world, mourns the untimely death of Professor Yizhar Hirschfeld on November 11, 2006, at the age of 56. Until his very last day, he taught at The Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology.
I was his teacher from the time he started his studies in the Institute in the early 1970s until he submitted his Ph.D. thesis in 1987. The professional connection soon became a personal friendship. Indeed, his lively personality and kindness made him a close friend to numerous colleagues in the archaeological and scholarly community in Israel and beyond.
Yizhar excelled in his studies from the very beginning. As a student he volunteered to dig at Rehovot-in-the-Negev, a remote site southwest of Beer-Sheva. This excavation was carried out under harsh conditions and demanded great physical effort. It was probably at that time that Yizhar decided to dedicate his research mostly to the archaeology of the Roman-Byzantine period. He also continued to work on his own surveys and excavations. He conducted a survey of mostly 19th-century houses (constructed before the use of modern cement and iron rails) in several Arab villages in the vicinity of Hebron. His meticulous survey, during which he crawled into rooms and cellars of semi-ruined houses, has turned out to be the best monograph on a great tradition of building that today has largely disappeared. Yizhar also showed how this vernacular architecture is connected with Roman-Byzantine building traditions.