About the Museum
The Prehistoric Man Museum in Kibbutz Ma’ayan Baruch was founded by Amnon Assaf, a member of the Palmach (the military arm of the Hagana, the precursor of the Israel Defence Forces). He was a farmer and member of the kibbutz, as well as an autodidact archaeologist. The Museum’s collection contains tens of thousands of prehistoric artefacts collected by Amnon from prehistoric sites in the Hula Valley, in the main were discovered by him.
The Museum is housed in a unique building designed by Amnon Assaf, which was erected in the 1980s. The cave-like structure contains two main sections: the Prehistoric Wing and the Ethnographic Wing.
The Prehistoric Wing is dedicated to displaying artefacts from Prehistoric sites in the Hula Valley. The Museum is home to a valuable and unique collection of archaeological finds, representing the period from the first settlement in the valley, nearly a million years ago, to the end of Prehistory and the beginning of history with the emergence of the first cities of the Bronze Age.
The Museum’s collection is comprised of about one hundred and twenty thousand archaeological finds, ranging from ancient flint tools of the Acheulean Culture to sculptures and figurines from the Chalcolithic period (approximately six thousand years before our time). The exhibits displayed include a selection of tools, weapons, animal bones and ritual artefacts, chosen from the fine collection.
The Ethnographic Wing displays a fascinating collection of tools, garments and goods, made by contemporary societies and tribes from around the world using traditional techniques. In this wing, hunting tools, traps, home accessories, clothing and ceremonial objects are on show. They demonstrate and perpetuate the traditional lifestyles and technologies of these groups. The exhibits preserve lifestyles disappearing in our modern world. They enable the exploration and comparison between the lives of traditional societies, and facilitate the understanding of the culture and technology of our ancient forefathers.
The Prehistoric Man Museum in Ma’ayan Baruch is the life work of Amnon Assaf, a member of the kibbutz. Amnon Assaf, as befits his name, (Assaf means ‘he who collected’), has gathered tens of thousands of archaeological items for over sixty years. During this time, he founded the Museum and until the age of 85 maintained and developed it by himself.
Amnon arrived at the Kefar Gil‘adi kibbutz as part of his service in the Palmach. Whilst stones were removed from an agricultural area in Hamara, handaxes made of flint were found amongst the fieldstones. These were later identified to be approximately 200 thousand-year-old tools. Amnon Assaf, took an interest in the handaxes and started to collect them in boxes which he kept under his bed.
The rumour about the collection spread by word of mouth and consequently international and Israeli professionals started to come to see the artefacts.