As an archaeologist, microscopy is an integral part of my profession. I started collecting microscopes when I needed a good portable polarizing microscope for fieldwork but the available instruments were not satisfactory. My search for a better microscope led me to explore past models and design my dream microscope. Over time I have added milestone microscopes of significant historical importance to my collection. This online catalog showcases my collection of historical microscopes.
I am a professor of archaeology who specializes in microarchaeology which involves using scientific methods to study archaeological materials. Specifically, I focus on the technology and origin of archaeological ceramics using mineralogical and geochemical processes. I started studying archaeology in 1981 at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Since 1989, I have worked as a petrography researcher at the Israel Antiquities Authority. I earned my doctorate from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1991 and became affiliated with Tel Aviv University in 1996. During my time there, I served as the Chairman of the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Humanities. In 2016, I was invited to join the Department of Bible, Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, where I established an international academic program to study archaeological materials and heritage sciences. I have published nearly 250 scientific articles over the past 40 years since setting up my first microarchaeological laboratory.
I'm not just an archaeologist, I'm also passionate about collecting and studying historical microscopes. Over the past forty years, I've gained extensive experience in microarchaeology, using microscopes every day to teach, practice, and examine. I've had to use micro-techniques in non-traditional settings, such as in the field, remote storage facilities, museums, archaeological excavations in remote locations, and other unusual situations. As part of my work and personal interest, I've researched the history of solutions developed over the past 200 years for scientists working outside their labs, and have published several articles on the topic. Additionally, I've created my own field microscope, which is now patented and commercially produced, and I use it regularly for my fieldwork.
This site is dedicated to my collection of over 100 historical microscopes, including some milestone models used by the pioneers of microscopy, microbiology, bacteriology, geology, and other scientific disciplines. It includes simple, compound pre-achromatic and achromatic landmark instruments representing the evolution of the compound microscope, and last, my design of a practical field microscope.
I will be delighted to address any legitimate comment or question.
Policy of the Descriptions and References Appearing on this Website
In the mature stage of collecting, it is essential to set goals and limits. This is when a collector transitions from being a hoarder to becoming a curator and begins to focus on arranging their collection. It is also a stage where the collector learns to let go. During my travels worldwide, I visited many collections and met numerous collectors. For instance, a renowned collector from Italy amazed me when he decided to focus his collection on timekeeping after years of collecting mainly Italian early scientific instruments, selling most of the rest, and bringing this aspect to a state of the art. On the other hand, some collectors I met purchased anything without much thought, as if out of a binge. Therefore, at a specific stage of collecting, I defined the limits of interest of this collection and quickly gave up items that exceeded this in favor of those that met this criterion. This collection is limited to 120 items, representing landmarks in the history of the microscope from its introduction to the early 20th century.
As an archaeologist with over four decades of experience, I specialize in the scientific applications of the discipline. I firmly believe that every artifact has a broad cultural, social, economic, and historical context, and this is especially true for microscopes. The history of scientific instruments, including microscopes, is often approached in a functional and catalog-based way. However, I have developed a different approach that examines ideas related to microscopes and their users, rather than just the instruments themselves. I view the microscope as a three-dimensional embodiment of its social and economic background, and my descriptions reflect this perspective.
I want to emphasize that engineers should avoid writing history, just as historians do not practice engineering. This website will serve as a platform for ongoing updates and discussions on this active topic.
There has been a tradition of naming prototypes with human names, mainly due to the Anglocentric character of literature. However, this trend is often unnecessary and historically incorrect. While it is appropriate to name a type after its inventor, such as the Cuff microscope, this is rarely the case. James Willson did not invent the screw-barrel microscope, Edmund Culpeper was not the first inventor of the double tripod microscope, and John Ellis had little to do with the idea of an aquatic microscope. Cary and Gould also only minimized an existing design for their toy microscope. Therefore, it is best to avoid using human names to describe these prototypes, unless there is a justified reason to do so.
The items displayed on this website are solely from this collection, accompanied by my original photographs of them, and are therefore copyrighted. Any other graphic materials used are in the public domain. If there are any comparable items in other collections, a link to their URL has been provided for cross-referencing purposes.