Our Mission

Welcome to the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology (AIBA). AIBA’s mission is to showcase Israel’s biblical archaeology and to make it available to the largest audience possible, most especially to the people of Israel.

AIBA is a non-profit academic and educational institution headquartered in Jerusalem, Israel.

AIBA seeks to share and promote Israel’s biblical archaeology via multiple platforms, including: 1) this website, which publishes articles, scientific reports and videos on Israel’s biblical archaeology; 2) Let the Stones Speak, a full-color, 32-page bimonthly print magazine; and 3) private tours of the Ophel and the City of David, as well as public seminars and archaeological exhibits.

Our new institute building in Jerusalem opened on September 4.

AIBA also sponsors and participates in archaeological excavations in Jerusalem, primarily in the City of David and on the Ophel. (To learn more about past projects, or to follow our ongoing projects, see our Excavations page.)

AIBA has deep roots in Israel and in the field of biblical archaeology. The institute collaborates and works in partnership with many of Israel’s esteemed academic institutions, including Hebrew University, the City of David Foundation, the Israel Antiquities Authority, and the Israel Exploration Society. AIBA is named after Herbert W. Armstrong, an individual with a long and rich history with both Israel and biblical archaeology.

Herbert Armstrong was a prominent 20th-century Bible scholar, minister and humanitarian. He was also a keen supporter of biblical archaeology and the Jewish state. From 1968 to 1986, Mr. Armstrong supported multiple archaeological excavations in Israel, most notably the “Big Dig,” a massive excavation on the Temple Mount led by Hebrew University professor Benjamin Mazar. (Our Excavations page has more information on this.)

Dr. Eilat Mazar, granddaughter of Prof. Benjamin Mazar, was one of Israel’s greatest biblical archaeologists. Eilat was responsible for making some of biblical archaeology’s most sensational discoveries, including King David’s palace, King Solomon’s royal complex, Nehemiah’s wall and the seals of King Hezekiah and Isaiah (among other finds). Dr. Mazar was a brilliant scientist who not only deeply valued the scientific method but recognized the crucial role the Bible plays in the study of Jerusalem’s ancient history.

Since 2006, AIBA proudly sponsored and worked alongside Dr. Mazar in her excavations in the City of David and on the Ophel. We endeavor to preserve Dr. Mazar’s archaeological legacy and keep it alive by approaching biblical archaeology with the same dedication to scientific and academic integrity, and the same passion, urgency and love. (You can learn more about the work and legacy of Dr. Eilat Mazar here.)

AIBA’s overarching mission can be divided into five specific objectives:

  1. To promote the Bible as a credible and essential historical resource in the practice of archaeology in Israel
  2. To feature and continue the archaeological work of Dr. Eilat Mazar and her grandfather, Prof. Benjamin Mazar
  3. To analyze and explain archaeological excavations and discoveries past and present in the context of the Bible
  4. To challenge the unwarranted and unsupported criticisms leveled against the use of the Bible in archaeology in Israel
  5. To encourage archaeologists to consider and employ the Bible in the practice of archaeology.

Our Home In Jerusalem

The office of the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology is situated in the Jerusalem suburb of Talbiyeh.

Following seven weeks of renovations, the Armstrong Institute staff moved into the new building at the end of August, 2022. The building provides both residential and office space, an area for small archaeological exhibits, and room for the combined libraries of archaeologists Dr. Eilat Mazar and her grandfather Prof. Benjamin Mazar. We acquired these libraries following Eilat’s death in May 2021. The collection of approximately 4,000 books (plus another 4,000 archaeology- and history-related books we acquired from Hebrew University) represents a wealth of crucial historical and scientific knowledge revolving around the most historic and important city on Earth. (The library will be open to the public upon request.)

The institute houses a library of books from the personal libraries of Drs. Benjamin Mazar and Eilat Mazar that were purchased from their estates.

The house, originally called Villa Catana, was built in 1926 by Antonio Catana, a Christian businessman whose family belonged to the local Latin community. Antonio and his family lived in the home until 1948, when they relocated to Beirut.

The villa is built in the Liwan style, which characterizes Arab homes from this period in the Talbiyeh and Katamon neighborhoods. The front of the house is dominated by a wide staircase that leads up to the impressive steel double-doors. Guests approach the staircase via a beautifully landscaped courtyard, one that includes a mature olive tree, pomegranate tree and citrus tree.

In 1948, the home was transferred to the Custodian General of Absentees’ Property. It changed owners many times over the years until it was transferred to Hebrew University in the 1970s. The timing of the university’s acquisition of the building is interesting, as this is when Prof. Benjamin Mazar and Hebrew University formed an “iron-bridge” partnership with Herbert W. Armstrong and Ambassador College.

In 1978, the university sold the building to Canadian businessman Charles Bronfman, who later transferred the property to the Karev Foundation that he founded. The villa was renovated by architects Jeff and Debbie Remez. Two floors were added to the structure: a water cistern became the basement floor, and in 2001, the tile roof was raised slightly for the addition of a second floor.

Together with his wife, Andrea, Bronfman provided enthusiastic and generous support to the Israel Museum, particularly its archaeology department. The Bronfmans were central to the creation of the Samuel Bronfman Biblical and Archaeological Museum, named after Charles’s father. In 1997, the Israel Museum recognized the Bronfmans’ outstanding contributions by making them Honorary Fellows of Israel Museum.

The building was empty from 2014 until July 2022, when it was secured in a long-term lease by the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology. Immediately after signing the lease agreement, our staff got to work with the aim to restore the building and its gardens to their former beauty. Today, Villa Catana is the home of the Armstrong Institute of Biblical Archaeology.

We invite Let the Stones Speak subscribers to visit us in Jerusalem. To arrange your visit, please e-mail tours@ArmstrongInstitute.org

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