Dr. Irit Zohar
collection manager of the fish skeletons, the Steinhardt Museum
Dr. Irit Zohar is the collection manager of the fish skeletons at the Steinhardt Museum. Irit studied archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, maritime archaeology at the University of Haifa, and did her Ph.D. in the department of Zoology at Tel Aviv University.
In her master thesis, under the supervision of Prof. Tamar Dayan and Prof. Ehud Spanier, Irit studied the osteological and morphometrics characteristics of the Gray triggerfish Balistes carolinensis, demonstrating its exploitation by the Pre-Pottery Neolithic inhabitants of the coastal (currently underwater) site of Atlit-Yam. Her Ph.D. study, was performed under the supervision of Prof. Tamar Dayan and Prof. Israel Hershkovitz, focusing on fish exploitation at the Sea of Galilee by early fisher-hunter-gatherers (23,000 BP), and provided a taphonomical models for identifying fish natural vs. cultural accumulation.
Irit created a large osteological collection that includes more than 700 fish skeletons from various aquatic habitats: the Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, freshwater, and the Nile (Egypt). This collection is used to identify fish remains recovered from lacustrine sediments, animals gut contents, and archaeological sites in the southern Levant.
Irit is involved in several national and international research projects, from the Lower Palaeolithic (1.5 my) to historical periods. She also conducted an ethnographic study in the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), together with Prof. Richard Cooke. Recent research focus on identifying the fish isotopic signature (18O/16O; 87Sr/86Sr; 14C/ 15N) as an environmental marker of the past aquatic habitat.
Her work emphasizes the value and importance of fish osteological collections to characterize environmental changes in aquatic habitats, to reconstruct fish economic and dietary value to past populations, to detect past fishing technologies and processing methods.