Mission and History


History of the Jane Dows Nies Memorial Building of the American School in Jerusalem, erected in 1925

The mission of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research is to develop and disseminate scholarly knowledge of the literature, history, and culture of the Near East, as well as the study of the development of civilization from prehistory to the early Islamic period.

The W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (AIAR) in Jerusalem is the oldest American research center for ancient Near Eastern studies in the Middle East. Founded in 1900 as the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR), it was renamed in 1970 after its most distinguished director, William Foxwell Albright. Today the Albright is one of three separately incorporated institutes affiliated with ASOR; the other two are in Amman and Nicosia.

The present Albright facility was built in 1925, with additions made in 1930 and major renovations completed in 1985, 2003 and 2008-2009. Located 500 meters north of the old walled city of Jerusalem, it is within walking distance of the Ecole Biblique, the British, German, Spanish and Swedish Schools of Archaeology, the Hebrew Union College-Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, the Hebrew University (Mt. Scopus campus), the Rockefeller Museum, and the Israel Antiquities Authority. Within easy driving distance are the Institute of Islamic Archaeology of Al-Quds University, the Israel Museum, the Bible Lands Museum and the Hebrew University (Givat Ram campus). This grouping of scholarly resources represents one of the richest concentrations of human, bibliographic and artifact resources in ancient Near Eastern Studies.

For more than a century, the Institute has provided scholars with an unparalleled international cultural environment, and a unique program that spans the broad spectrum of ancient Near Eastern studies. Each year, Albright Fellows from the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South Africa, as well as from Israel and the Palestinian Authority, exchange information and ideas with other scholars throughout the Eastern Mediterranean basin. Dedicated to the advancement of the study of the literature, history and culture of the ancient Near East, including the disciplines of the Archaeology of Palestine and Biblical Studies, the Albright continues to be a major American research center in the Middle East that strives for excellence in scholarship.

Now, as in the past, the Albright Institute annually provides a wide range of programs and facilities for doctoral and post-doctoral research, as well as information-sharing, internship and field work programs for more than 3,000 people. The program includes a series of eighty-five scholarly presentations, study tours and social events, and support for twenty-five ASOR-affiliated/AIAR-assisted excavation, survey and publication projects. It also includes the Institute’s publication program, an extensive research library, workshops. The Albright Institute and the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem jointly sponsor the long-term Tel Miqne-Ekron excavation and publications project. The Albright also initiated and administers the international research project funded by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers/CAORC, “The Neo-Assyrian Empire in the 7th Century BC: A Study of the Interactions between Center and Periphery,” involving fifty researchers working in thirteen countries in the Middle East and Mediterranean basin. Living accomodations for the fellows include five single and five double rooms in the Joy Gottesman Ungerleider hostel with shared bathroom facilities, two apartments, each with two-bedrooms and a study: The Balcony Apartment and the Garden Apartment, and one bedroom with a private bathroom. The tree-shaded patio with the Kershaw Family Garden at the back of the main building welcomes Fellows during the hot summer months. A barbecue, located on a second patio at the rear of the Institute can be used by the residents.

For more information about the history and development of the Albright, see Philip J. King’s American Archaeology in the Mideast: A History of the American Schools of Oriental Research, Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1983; and An ASOR Mosaic: A Centennial History of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 1900-2000, ed. Joe D. Seger, Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2001 (specifically pp.125-238, the chapter on the Albright, and pp.80, 89-93, on the Albright Centennial).