An Israeli Archaeologist and IDF Hero

Stand for Israel  |  July 31, 2023

Archaeologist Yigal Yadin, 1963
(Photo: Boris Carmi/Meitar Collection/National Library of Israel/The Pritzker Family National Photography Collection/CC BY 4.0)

Born in Jerusalem to an archaeologist father and a women’s rights activist and teacher mother, Yigael Yadin joined the Haganah (the precursor to the IDF) at age 15. He served until 1946, leaving the military to study at college.

As Israel faced the fight for her independence in 1948, David Ben-Gurion called Yadin back to military service. As Head of Operations during the War of Independence, Yadin made many of the conflict’s key decisions. In 1949, the IDF named him its Chief of Staff, a position he served in for three more years.

After his military service, Yadin spent his life as an archaeologist. In 1956 he won the Israel Prize for his translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in the Holy Land, including the Qumran Caves, Masada, Hazor, Tel Megiddo, and the Solomonic Gate at Tel Gezer, which he considered the highlight of his long and noted career.

Although he left the military many years before, Yadin reentered a life of service on the eve of 1967’s Six-Day War, serving as the prime minister’s military adviser. He also served the Jewish state after the Yom Kippur War of 1973, after which he investigated the actions that led to the conflict.

Yadin served in Israeli politics from 1976 until his retirement in 1981. Married to his wife Carmela for 40 years—the couple had two daughters—Yadin passed away at the age of 67, buried at Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

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