Dr. Gideon Avni (PhD – 1997) is the Head of the Archaeological Division in the Israel Antiquities Authority and a lecturer at the Institute of Archaeology, the Hebrew University. In 1989 – 2000 he was the IAA Jerusalem District Archaeologist.
His academic interests focus on various aspects of Classical, Late Antique and Early Islamic archaeology, the cultural and religious transformation of the Near East from Byzantine to Islamic rule, and the archaeology of desert societies in the Levant. During the last 30 years he has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Negev Desert (1979-1988; 2005-2011), Beth Govrin (1983-1992), Jerusalem (1984-2003) and Ramla (2002-2004). In 1996-2002 he headed a comprehensive survey and excavations project at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
In 2004-2007 he co-directed a research team supported by the Israel Science foundation on the urban centers of Palestine in the Early Islamic period. He was a fellow at Institute of Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (2008-2009). He is currently a member of a research group of the Hebrew University and the Israel Academy of Sciences on the formation of Islamic society in Palestine, and a co-director of an interdisciplinary study on the ancient agriculture of the Negev during Byzantine and Early Islamic times.