The interdisciplinary nature of the JCHP permits a variety of research projects to be conducted and supported. Its research activities may be characterized as primarily historical in nature (whether examining Jaffa’s political, social, economic, or cultural history), with heavy emphasis on the employment of archaeological data. Nevertheless, many research projects may emphasize one methodology over another, such that JCHP research projects may be characterized as primarily archaeological, historical, or environmental.
Because of the diversity of environments represented by Jaffa’s context, archaeological research in Jaffa must include the integration of terrestrial and marine archaeological excavations, environmental analyses, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping of archaeological and architectural remains. Excavations conducted under the auspices of the JCHP fall under the categories of both research and salvage excavations, and in this respect the JCHP’s organizational framework is the first of its kind in Israel to place emphasis on the integration of these disparate data sources. While the JCHP’s primary mandate is the exploration of Jaffa, exploration of second- and third-tier archaeological sites and cemeteries within Jaffa’s hinterland, such as Abu Kebir, may be undertaken in the future. As in many archaeological projects, such sites can shed light on Jaffa’s relationship to its hinterland during different periods.
As evident throughout Israel in recent years, the vast majority of archaeological excavations are now salvage in nature. For this reason, research archaeologists must increasingly make efforts to incorporate these findings in their own work, despite the differences in the mandate and intensity with which salvage work must be undertaken. One of the primary objectives of the JCHP’s archaeological research in Jaffa is to model the integration of research and salvage excavations to maximize the recovery of information from both archaeological contexts.
Despite the importance of archaeological research to historical inquiries concerning Jaffa, historical sources, travelers’ accounts, maps, artwork, and photos provide rich sources for the study of Jaffa’s history during many periods. These sources also facilitate interpretations of the archaeological, architectural, and occupational history of the site. Thus historical research of the site in all periods is instrumental to properly understanding the cultural and environmental evolution of Jaffa.
Like historical research, study of Jaffa’s changing environment can provide a better understanding of the factors that governed the site’s selection as both a settlement and a major port along the coast of the southern Levant. Although ports are selected for their locations, and therefore maintain their importance in many periods, environmental conditions change. Therefore, seeking to understand the changes that occurred in the environment and ecology of Jaffa and the surrounding region is also critical to understanding changes in Jaffa’s history.
For more information, see Chapter 1 of The History and Archaeology of Jaffa 1.