Israeli archaeologist Nahman Avigad, who excavated the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and discovered remnants of the Jewish revolt against Rome that was crushed by Titus, as described in the work of Josephus, died at 86 on this date in 1992. Avigad also worked on excavating Masada as well as the caves in the Judean desert where most of the Dead Sea scrolls were found. He also unearthed the Israelite Tower, an Iron Age fortification in Jerusalem that is considered evidence of the Babylonian attack on the city in 586 BCE. Among his many rewards were the Bialik Prize for Jewish thought (1954), the Israel Prize for Land of Israel studies (1977), and the Yakir Yerhushalayim award from the city of Jerusalem. He taught at the Hebrew University from 1949 until 1974.

“Dr. Avigad was contemplating retirement when he was invited in 1969 to undertake what became his crowning achievement: finding the Herodian ‘Upper City’ in the Jewish quarter of the Old City. Archeologists suggested the possibility of finding such a site after surveying the ruins of the 1967 war that brought East Jerusalem under Israeli control. Overcoming his initial hesitation, Dr. Avigad led the dig for fourteen years.”–Wolfgang Saxon, New York Times