Professor Rachel Hachlili, a pioneer in the field of ancient Jewish art and archaeology, passed away on January 12, 2019, at the age of 84. Rachel’s groundbreaking research, mentorship, and academic and professional achievements at a time when women professors were few and far between are exemplary and a source of inspiration.
Rachel was born on January 2, 1935, in British Mandate-period Tel Aviv. After completing her military service, she was among the first members of Kibbutz Gadot in the Upper Galilee. She commenced her studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1959. In 1962, Rachel was awarded a B.A. in archaeology and Jewish history, followed by an M.A. (cum laude) in archaeology in 1965. During her student years, she participated in numerous landmark excavations, including Ramat Rachel, the Judaean Desert Caves, the Hammath-Tiberias Synagogue, Tel Arad, the Caesarea Synagogue, Ashdod, and Masada.
Prior to completing her Ph.D. dissertation, Rachel spent two years (1966–1968) in New York on a U.S. State Department scholarship, where she organized the collection of the Jewish Museum and studied at Columbia University. She was awarded a second scholarship (1968–1969) to study ancient Greek art and archaeology at the University of Oxford. After returning to Israel, Rachel completed her dissertation in 1971, titled Sacred Architecture and Decoration in the Hellenistic-Roman East, under the supervision of Michael Avi-Yonah.