18 January 2012

The Palestine Exploration Fund

The PEF was founded in 1865 and is the oldest organization in the world created specifically for the study of the Levant, the southern portion of which was conventionally known as ‘Palestine’. The PEF is a major bridge and information resource for the public and academic community.

It publishes an internationally respected journal, the Palestine Exploration Quarterly, and brings the latest archaeological results and research to the public in a series of regular lectures. The PEF promotes ongoing research through annual grants to scholars across the world.

The PEF archives hold over 40,000 photographs of Palestine, Jordan and Syria taken from 1850 onwards. The PEF collections also include archaeological artefacts, natural history specimens, maps, manuscripts, and paintings. Our unparalleled library attracts scholars from around the world. These facilities are available to our members for research, study, and publication purposes.

Lectures notice: Please note that from March 2011, due to rescheduling arrangements at the British Museum, the PEF lectures at the British Museum will start at 4pm (replacing the prior 6pm start time). We apologise for any inconvenience. Please go to our lectures pages for further details.

Current office hours for visits and enquiries

Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays: 10.30am to 4.00pm
Tuesdays: 10.30am to 5.30pm
Fridays: 10.30am to 1.00pm

A Brief History of Palestine:

The term 'Palestine' is a widely-attested Western and Near Eastern conventional name for the region that includes contemporary Israel, the Israeli-occupied territories, part of Jordan, and some of both Lebanon and Syria. Its traditional area runs from Sidon on the coast, to Damascus inland, southwards to the Gulf of Aqaba, and then north-west to Raphia.

The Sinai Desert is usually considered a separate geographical zone to the south. 'Palestine' is first attested in extant literature in the 5th cent. BC, when it appears in the Histories of Herodotus (Hist. 2: 104, etc.) as PalaistinĂª. It seems to have its origins in the root form p-l-s-t , denoting the land of the Philistines, though it has generally in Western usage referred to a much wider region than coastal Philistia, including the area that is known in Biblical, Rabbinic and Samaritan literature as the Land of Israel (Eretz-Yisra'el) or ancient Canaan. The term 'Palestine' has over many centuries retained its relevance as an apolitical geographical term regardless of the nation-states and administrative entities that have existed in this region. It has no political associations when used by the Palestine Exploration Fund.


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