For several years now, the Protestant Theology Faculty of Charles University (PTF) – and specifically the Department of Old Testament Studies – has been developing cooperation with archaeologists from the University of Tel Aviv. It all started back in 2008 with the first contact with Professor Oded Lipschits, Head of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University and director of the archaeological excavations in Ramat Rachel. Closer cooperation was agreed on in 2011, and since 2012 teachers and students from PTF have travelled regularly every summer to Israel to take part in the archaeological excavations in Tel Azekah, an important site for ancient history.
It was a fortified town that was monumental for its time and was already in existence in the Middle Bronze Age at the latest. Later it became a border fortress of the Kingdom of Judah, which was why it was destroyed, first by the Assyrians in the 8th century B.C. and then by the Babylonians in the 6th century B.C.
The cooperation with Tel Aviv University does not only take place on archaeological sites, and not only in Israel. Academics from Tel Aviv travel regularly to Prague as guest lecturers at PTF and at the Archaeological Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences. But this also applies in the opposite direction, and Czechs from PTF are actively involved in a new long-term project called “The Last Century in the History of the Kingdom of Judah”. As part of the project, regular colloquia are being held both at PTF in Prague and at the Institute of Archaeology in Tel Aviv. The aim is to extend the interdisciplinary dialogue between archaeologists, biblical scholars, and theologians, and to encourage students at both master’s and doctoral level to take an interest in biblical archaeology. The media have already devoted several programmes to the cooperation between PTF and Tel Aviv, and members of the Czech diplomatic corps in Tel Aviv (the Czech Ambassador Ivo Schwarz and the Director of the Czech Centre Lukáš Přibyl) have supported the project by visiting the excavations and conferences.
There are a number of upcoming events in this continuing cooperation that are worth noting. On 8 December 2016 there will be a gathering at PTF to mark the official launching of the Czech translation of the book The Forgotten Kingdom by the leading Tel Aviv archaeologist Professor Israel Finkelstein. Professor Finkelstein will be present in person and will give a public lecture. In February 2017 a seminar will be held at PTF attended by Dr. Yudal Gadot from the Department of Archaeology of Tel Aviv University. Then in May 2017 a group of teachers and students from PTF will travel to Jerusalem where they will take part in the prestigious archaeological survey project “Exploring Ancient Jerusalem”, led by the University of Tel Aviv and the Kimmel Center for Archaeological Science.
Filip Čapek, Department of Old Testament Studies, PTF