Dig Israel? The complete 2015 rough guide to open archeology digs for students and tourists

Cleaning the mosaic floor in the prayer hall of a Byzantine monastery in the northern Negev

It’s a dream for some and a reality that can come true if you plan in visiting Israel this year. The country some say is an open archeology site. You can literally find ruins everywhere. But let’s say you want to participate in a formal dig and even possibly earn school credit. If this tickles your fancy, read on for the ultimate guide of Israeli digs this summer, one starting as early as the first week of February. Details, costs and contacts are in the rough guide below.  

Joining a dig is a great way to get close to ancient history and if you are an environment lover – a way to learn about the simpler ways of life, before industrialization and technology.

The excavation details have been published by the archaeologists in charge of the individual expeditions. Scroll down for all the details according to dig.

Israel Archeology Excavations 2015

2015-archeology-digs-israel

VOLUNTEERING AT A DIG IN ISRAEL

Many archaeologists enlist volunteer help on their digs, as volunteers are highly motivated and wish to learn and gain experience, although the work is often difficult and tedious. Usually, no previous experience is necessary. The work includes digging, shovelling, hauling baskets of earth and sherds, cleaning pottery sherds and more. Volunteers are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Israel.

Accommodations for volunteers can range from sleeping bags in the field, to rooms in hostels or kibbutzim, to 3-star hotels near a site. Each expedition has its own accommodation arrangements.

There is usually a charge for food and lodging, although on some excavations these are free. Volunteers who require kosher food should inquire in advance. Excavations conducted in or near a city often require volunteers to find their own accommodations.

Volunteers should have comfortable, sturdy clothes for heavy work. Sunhats are absolutely compulsory in summer; warm clothing is suggested for summer evenings as the weather can be cool. Winters are wet and cold; warm clothes and water-proof boots are necessary.

Equipment that may be useful – depending on the conditions at the site and the type of accommodation available – includes work-gloves, sleeping bag, canteen, towels and sunscreen lotion.TMRECREATION AND TRIPINSURCE

In most cases, volunteers must arrange for medical and accident insurance in advance. Even in instances when accident insurance is provided, it is strongly advised that volunteers come fully insured as the insurance offered is minimal.

APPLICATION AND REGISTRATION

When applying to the director of an excavation you should indicate any previous studies you may have in archaeology or related fields, such as anthropology, architecture, geography, surveying, graphic arts; or experience in excavation work, pottery restoration or photography.

For registration, please contact the persons listed in the individual entries. Please note that a registration fee is often required.

Note: Israel Ministry of Interior regulations require that passports of all volunteers (other than Israeli) be stamped with a volunteer visa (B4). This request should be made by the volunteer at the point of entry into Israel. 

MORE details on the archeology digs in Israel

 
CENTRAL TIMNA VALLEY (CTV) The Central Timna Valley (CTV) Project is a multi-year project of the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, focusing on copper production sites in the southern Aravah Valley at the transitional period between the Late Bronze and Iron Ages (1300-800 BCE). The excavations are aimed at addressing social, technological and chronological aspects of the ancient copper production industry. Field work is conducted on a small scale, designed to address specific research questions, and is complemented by various laboratory analyses of the different archaeometallurgical finds. The project is based on two intensive weeks of field work, excavations, lectures and field trips to various ancient copper production sites, with emphasis on learning different excavation methods and understanding technological evolution from the dawn of metallurgy to the Islamic period, as shaped by the environmental background.
Director: Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef, Tel Aviv University
Dates: Feb 1-13
Accommodation: Simple huts near the Timna Valley; several nights will be in sleeping bags in a heated tent. Full board.
Cost for volunteers: Variable based on length of stay: $950 for entire field season
Minimum participation: 3 days
Application deadline: January 25, 2015
Academic credit: 2 academic credits of TAU for the course: Field Archaeology (0671-1216). Israeli students are required to complete their 20 days quota in a different project during the summer. TAU academic fees are $125 per unit (total $250 for the course).
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance, and offer proof of doing so. The expedition will not cover any claims of damage to equipment or injuries to the volunteers or their visitors.
Work hours: The season is short and without breaks; it includes work on Saturdays and Sundays.
Contact: Yitzhak Vassal, [email protected], or call +972-3-6409427
Additional phone number: Gali Edelstein, Department of Archaeology and Near Eastern Cultures at TAU – +972-3-6409703
Website: For more information see website 
 
 
KHIRBET EL-MAQATIR The location of the city of Ai mentioned in Joshua 7-8 has long been a matter of mystery and controversy. The  geographic, historical and archaeological evidence collected in excavations to date demonstrates that Khirbet el-Maqatir is the Ai of Joshua. The discoveries to date include include a rare 15th century BC Egyptian scarab, a Late Bronze I city gate and wall system, large amounts of pottery from the time of Joshua, remains from the Judges period, evidence of destruction by fire, ancient coins, a first century AD city/town, and a Byzantine monastery.
Directors: Dr. Scott Stripling, Wharton County Junior College and Belhaven University
Dates: May 24 – June 13
Accommodation: Mount Scopus Hotel, 10 Sheikh Jarrah Street, Jerusalem
Cost: One week: $1100. Two weeks: $2149. Three weeks: $2999. Includes double occupancy, three meals a day, evening classes. Rates for participation other than 1, 2 or 3 weeks can be priced on an individual basis, depending on the availability of hotel rooms.
Registration fee: $500 deposit
Minimum participation: At least one week participation is preferred, but not required.
Application  deadline: Deadline for signup – April 1, 2015. Final payment in full is due April 15, 2015.
Daily schedule: 5:45 AM – 1:45 PM Excavations, with lunch break
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM Pottery washing
7-8 PM Evening Biblical teaching as scheduled .
Recreation: During the dig, two weekends trips will be made available. Park entrance fees, bus and/or van costs are not included, but will be paid by participants in Israel, about $30-$50 per day.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance valid in Israel in advance, and offer proof of doing so.
Contact:

Henry B. Smith, Jr.
Associates for Biblical Research
P.O. Box 144
Akron, PA 17501
Phone: 1-800-430-0008
Fax: 1-717-859-3393
Email: [email protected]

Website: For more information and application form see ABR website
 
GEZER WATER SYSTEM Gezer, one of three cities fortified by Solomon, guards the western entrance of Jerusalem from the coastal plain. Gezer was continuously occupied from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic Period. Excavations will focus on re-opening the ancient water system that was first discovered in the early 1900’s but was not entirely explored.
In 2015 we will continue to clear more of the diagonal tunnel, clearing the tunnel area between the area of the water source and the bottom steps, explore futher the possibility of an external entry, and expand the restoration of the area.
Directors:

Tsvika Tsuk, Director of Archaeology for Israel Parks Authority
Drs. Daniel Warner, James Parker, and R. Dennis Cole of NOBTS

Dates: May 24 – June 12
Accommodation: Air-conditioned rooms at the Neve Shalom Guest House, with three to four persons per room. All guestrooms have air conditioning, telephone, television, and refrigerator.
Cost: $1800 for the 3-week season. The price does not include airfare to and from Israel or weekend study tours. Some space is available for those who cannot stay all 3 weeks, at $600 per week.
Registration fee: Deposit of $500 is due by March 15, balance of payment due by April 20.
Academic program and credit:

Either 3 or 6 semester hours of credit can be obtained through NOBTS for the full 3 week participation in the expedition.  A reduced tuition charge will be assessed by NOBTS for participants in course credit. Some undergraduate credit is also available.

Minimum participation: Preference to volunteers who join the project for the full five weeks of the excavation season. It is possible to arrange for a minimum two week stay upon approval by the project directors.
Work hours: Monday through Friday: 5:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. – excavation. Afternoon – lab work in camp (pottery washing, processing of material culture, etc.), and a lecture.
Field trips: The expedition will arrange travel to various key areas and sites during the three week stay, including such areas a Jerusalem, Galilee, the coastal plains of Sharon and Philistia, and the Dead Sea.
Recreation: Swimming pool. Located midway between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, Neve Shalom/ Wahat al-Salam overlooks the Ayalon Valley and the Coastal plain. The village is surrounded by olive groves, pine forests and fields. Within walking distance are the Trappist Monastery of Latrun and the Yitzhak Rabin National Park.
Minimum participation: Preference for full period, minimum two week stay upon approval by the project directors.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance and offer proof of doing so.
Contact:

Dr. Dan Warner ([email protected]), Dr. Dennis Cole, ([email protected]), or Dr. Tsvika Tsuk ([email protected])

Website: For registration details and application form see website.
 
 
BETHSAIDA Bethsaida, situated on the north Sea of Galilee was founded in the10th century BCE as the capital city of the biblical kingdom of Geshur. During the Time of Jesus Bethsaida served as the birthplace of three Apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip and a place where Jesus performed many miracles, it is one of the most frequently mentioned towns in the New Testament.
Director: Prof. Rami Arav, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Dates: Session 1: May 25 – June 6
Session 2: June 7-20
Session 3: June 21 – July 4
Accommodation: Nof Ginosar Hotel on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee
Cost: $643-1310 per week according to type (dorm, triple, double, single)
Registration fee: $200 deposit (Full reimbursement until March 31, 2015.
Cancellation fee of $100 April 1-30, 2015)
Minimum participation: One week
Work days:

Monday-Friday
5:30am – 12:30 pm: Fieldwork
4:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Lab work and pottery
8:00pm – 9:00pm: Lecture

Recreation: Kibbutz Ginosar is located right on the Sea of Galilee, and there is also a swimming pool on the kibbutz. Weekend tours are arranged throughout the season (for an additional charge).
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance, and offer proof of doing so.

Contact:

Kristy Leahy Pape, Excavations Coordinator
1.402.554.3108
[email protected]

Website: For more information and application form see:http://world.unomaha.edu/bethsaida/dig.php
 
TEL BURNA The site of Tel Burna is located in the Shephelah region, which served as a border between the kingdoms of Judah and Philistia in the Iron Age. A fertile area that supported agricultural production, the region became known as the breadbasket of the south. Survey finds indicate the city was important throughout the Bronze and Iron Ages. Excavations have revealed settlements from the thirteenth, ninth, eighth and seventh centuries BCE, as well as some Persian period remains.
This summer, we plan to continue the excavations on the upper mound, where the Iron Age II fortified city stood.
Director: Dr. Itzhaq Shai and Dr. Joe Uziel, Institute of Archaeology, Bar Ilan University
Dates: June 7 – July 3
Accommodation: Standard lodgings are 4-6 people per room.
Cost for volunteers: $450 per week. Includes room and board from Sunday morning to Friday morning, travel to and from the site, field trips (1-2 per week), lectures, and all dig-related activities.
Registration fee: $50 (non-refundable)
Application and payment deadline: May 1, 2015
Minimum stay & age:
One week. Minimum age 18.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance, and offer proof of doing so. All participants must be of sound mind and body, enabling participation in an exerting physical activity, in (occasionally adverse) outdoor conditions. Participants are required to undergo a medical examination prior to the excavation and present a medical doctor’s authorization.
Work hours: Volunteers will participate both in excavation (ca. 6AM-1PM) and in post-excavation activities such as pottery washing which will be conducted in the afternoon and evening.
Contact: Itzhaq Shai [email protected]
Institute of Archaeology
Bar Ilan University
Ramat Gan, Israel, 52900
Telephone: 972-54-4700596
Website: For more information and registration forms see flyer andwww.telburna.wordpress.com
 
TEL HAZOR Hazor is a major site in the Galilee, located approximately 5 km. north of Rosh Pina.
The population of Hazor in the second millennium BCE is estimated to have been about 20,000, making it the largest and most important city in the entire region, located strategically on the route connecting Egypt and Babylon. The city was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered in the days of Ahab and Jeroboam II, until its final destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE.
Director:

Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University

Dates: June 21 – July 31. The season is divided into two 3 week sessions: Sunday June 21 – Friday July 10; Sunday July 12 – Friday July 31. It is possible to apply for either one of the three week sessions or both, but preference will be given to those who apply for the entire 6-week season.
Accommodation: Holiday Village of Kibbutz Gonen. All the rooms equipped with air-condition, TV and a kitchenette.
Cost: $1500 per session ($500 per week x 3) or $2800 for those who register for the entire period.
Registration fee: $75 nonrefundable registration fee.
Credit courses: Students may arrange to receive academic credit (undergraduate or graduate level) through the Rothberg International School. These credit points can be transferred to the student’s home institution. The cost is $80 for the application fee and $120 per academic credit point, each equals 1 week of participation (students can get up to 6 credit points for the whole season).
Students opting to receive academic credit should state their intent upon registration, and directions for application to the credit program will be sent by mail.
Work hours: Monday through Friday: 5:00 a.m. to 14:30 p.m. – excavation and pottery washing.
Lectures: A series of lectures during the week will provide training in field archaeology and the interpretation of finds.
Recreation: The kibbutz has a swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts.
Minimum age: 18
Minimum participation:
3 weeks.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance and offer proof of doing so.
Contact: Mail the application form + registration fee to:
Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor
Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University
Mount Scopus Jerusalem 91905 Israel
Tel. 972-2-5882403/4 Fax: 972-2-5825548
For information contact: Dr. Sharon Zuckerman
Email: [email protected]
Website: For registration details and application form see Hazor website.
 
 
TEL KABRI Located in a quiet rural setting within the western Galilee, a ten minute ride from the historical town of Acco and the modern resort town of Nahariya, the site of Tel Kabri has what may be the earliest-known Western art yet found in the Eastern Mediterranean. In 2013, we found the oldest and largest wine cellar in the ancient Near East, in the storage rooms of the palace. We will be continuing the excavation of these during the 2015 season.
Co-Directors:

Assaf Yasur-Landau, Haifa University and Eric H. Cline, George Washington University

Dates: June 21 – July 30, split into two sessions of three weeks each: June 21 – July 9 and July 12-30.
Accommodation: Western Galilee Field School, near Achziv beach, north of Nahariya. Meals provided during work week.
Cost: Room and Board: $750 per week ($600 for returnees and consortium members)
Registration fee: $50 non-refundable deposit
Application deadline: All payments will be due in full by 1 April 2015.
Credit courses: We anticipate offering the following course through the University of Haifa, for credit which should transfer back to US colleges and universities: Kabri Archaeological Field School: Methods and Techniques in Field Archaeology (3 credits). It is expected that the cost of the field techniques class, available as transfer credits from the University of Haifa, will be US $600 per 3 credit course.
Work hours: Sunday through Thursday: 5:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Work on the finds continues between 4-6 pm in the excavation camp. For those who are enrolled in the field school, several afternoons a week will be dedicated to lectures and practice of field techniques.
Lectures: A series of lectures during the week will provide training in field archaeology and the interpretation of finds.
Minimum age: 18
Minimum participation: 3 weeks
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance and offer proof of doing so.
Contact: Eric H. Cline, Ph.D. – Chair, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, George Washington University
Tel: (202) 994-0316, Fax: (202) 994-2156; Email:[email protected]
Website: For registration details and application form see website.
 
TELL ES-SAFI/GATH The site of Tell es-Safi/Gath is located in the Shephelah region (the Judean foothills), approximately half way between Jerusalem and Ashkelon. One of the largest archaeological sites in Israel, it is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath, Medieval Blanche Garde, and modern Tell es-Safi. During biblical times this was one of the five major cities of the Philistines, the home of Goliath and Achish according to the biblical text. Excavations over the last 17 years have uncovered impressive remains, including the worlds earliest known siege system, rich finds from the Bronze and Iron Age periods, Philistine temples, inscriptions and art, and evidence of the destruction of the city of Gath by Hazael, king of Aram Damascus, as mentioned in II Kings 12.
In the upcoming 2015 season, we plan to continue to excavate levels dating to these various phases, with particular emphasis on the Early and Late Bronze Ages, and various stages of the Iron Age.
Director: Prof. Aren Maeir, Institute of Archaeology, Bar Ilan University
Dates: June 28 – July 24
Accommodation: Kibbutz Revadim. Standard lodgings are 4-6 people per room; double and single rooms available for additional fee.
Cost for volunteers: US$450 per week. Includes room and board from Sunday morning to Friday morning, travel to and from the site, field trips (1-2 per week), lectures, and all dig-related activities. Weekends and double/single rooms available for additional fee.
Registration fee: US$50 (non-refundable)
Application deadline: May 1, 2015
Academic program: A field school in field archaeology will provide university credits (from Bar-Ilan University): 3 credits for 2 weeks ($500 additional payment) or 6 credits for 4 weeks ($1000 additional payment).
Work hours: Monday afternoon to Friday afternoon. Includes excavation (ca. 6AM-1PM) and in post-excavation activities such as pottery washing which will be conducted in the afternoon and evening.
Minimum age: 16 to 90. Volunteers under the age of 18 must have the consent of their parents/legal guardians.
Minimum stay: 2 weeks
Recreation: Kibbutz pool
Lecture/class: Twice a week, in evenings.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance, and offer proof of doing so. All participants must be of sound mind and body, enabling participation in an exerting physical activity, in (occasionally adverse) outdoor conditions. Participants are required to undergo a medical examination prior to the excavation and present a medical doctor’s authorization.
Contact: Prof. Aren M. Maeir, Institute of Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan 52900, ISRAEL
TEL: +972-54-6205082; FAX: +972-3-635-4941
E-mail: [email protected][email protected]
Website: For more information and registration forms see:gath.wordpress.com
 
HIPPOS (SUSSITA) The ancient city of Hippos, one of the Decapolis, was erected upon the plateau of Sussita Mountain overlooking the Sea of Galilee which stretches west of it. The Hippos dig is one of the main Classical Period excavations being conducted during last decade in Israel.
This season’s plans include: excavations of a Roman period Basilica, excavations of fortification segments (the bastion), and excavations of the Roman-Byzantine southern bathhouse.
Director: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, University of Haifa
Dates: July 19 – Aug 13
Session A: July 19-30
Session B: August 2-13
Accommodation: Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan in air-conditioned rooms including weekends (3 meals a day, expedition tours, leisure activity, lectures, etc.), 2-4 per room
Cost: Session A or B (2 weeks each) – Cost for full Room and Board: $1410
Tuition Fee for 2 Credits: $150
Session A and B (4 weeks) – Cost for full Room and Board: $2525
Tuition Fee for 4 Credits: $150.
Registration fee: 100 Euro (nonrefundable) in personal or bank check. Fee will be deducted from total cost of participants.
Application deadline:
March 30, 2015. Full payment by April 20.
Work hours: Excavation (Sunday-Thursday): 05:00-12:00, with additional work assignments and lectures in the afternoon and evenings.
Recreation: Guided tours; on weekends participants may relax or travel on their own or enjoy on the shore of the Tiberias Lake.
Minimum age: 16
Minimum participation: Two week session. Preference will be given to those who apply for the entire season.
Insurance: It is mandatory for each participant to provide proof of full medical insurance covering all aspects of illness or possible injury.
Contact: Dr. Michael Eisenberg, Co-Director, Hippos (Sussita) Project, Zinman Institute of Archaeology, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel
Tel. 972-4-8249392; Fax: 972-4-8249876
E-mail: [email protected]
Website: For registration details and application formhttp://hippos.haifa.ac.il/
 
 
ASHDOD-YAM

In summer 2015, we are planning to continue the excavations of the Iron Age compound (known also as an ‘Assyrian enclosure’) at the site of Ashdod-Yam (South) (Ashdod on the Sea; Asdudimmu in the neo-Assyrian sources; a part of Azotos Paralios in Byzantine times), which is located on the coast of Israel (within the boundaries of the modern city of Ashdod).
The fate of Ashdod-Yam was always connected to the capital city of Ashdod (one of the five major Philistine cities during the Iron Age. Already during the Late Bronze Age there was probably a small port of trade at Ashdod-Yam, which served the capital city, while its main port of trade was located at Tel Mor, north-west of Tel Ashdod.Tel Mor’s significance was diminished during the Iron Age and Ashdod-Yam became the main coastal settlement connected directly to the inland city of Ashdod.

Dates:

July 19 – August 22

Directors: Dr. Alexander Fantalkin, Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology

Prof. Angelika Berlejung, Leipzig University Institut für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Accommodation: ORT YAMI-ASHDOD Naval officers boarding school. Full board on weekdays, up to 3-4 people in a room. Includes room on weekends, no meals provided.
Cost:

Two weeks: US $ 1200
Three weeks: US $ 1750
Four weeks: US $ 2300

Registration fee (non-refundable): $50
Work days: Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday free.
Lectures and tours: Academic lectures and workshops; afternoon archaeological programs and social activities, educational tours to archaeological and historical sites and museums in the region.
Academic credit:

It is our intention to develop an additional educational program for foreign student​s who will get academic credit hours from Tel Aviv University

Recreation: Accommodation located within short walking distance of Mediterranean beaches.
Minimum participation:
Two consecutive weeks.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance in advance and offer proof of doing so.
Contact:

Dr. Alexander Fantalkin, [email protected], Tel. +972-54-5721866

Website and application forms:

Official website: http://www.ashdod-yam-archaeological-excavations.com

 
 
ASHKELON From the Canaanite era (2000-1200 B.C.), Ashkelon was one of the most important ancient seaports in Israel and in the eastern Mediterranean. In 2015, we will continue to uncover Ashkelon’s history from the Bronze Age through the Crusades.
Directors: Lawrence E. Stager and Adam J. Aja, Harvard University
Dates: TBA
Accommodation: Dan Gardens Hotel
Cost:

TBA
In addition to the program fee, students are responsible for:
A health insurance fee (waived if students have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
Transportation to and from Ashkelon
Independent excursions
The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
Any immunizations

Academic program:

Students who are participating in the Ashkelon program for course credit take Harvard University NELC S-198: Field School and Education Program for Ashkelon Excavations: The Leon Levy Expedition (32237).
For more information and application see website.

Application fee: $50 (nonrefundable)
Application deadline:
January 29, 2015
Minimum age: Students must be at least 18 years old, have completed at least 1 year of college or be a first-year student, and be in good academic standing to apply.
Work hours: Sunday-Friday: Excavation – 5:30-1:00;
Pottery washing – 4:30-6:30 except on Fridays.
Recreation: Saturdays free. Hotel is located near the beach, has a swimming pool, tennis court, weight room and sauna.
Insurance: Volunteers must arrange their own medical and accident insurance valid in Israel in advance, and offer proof of doing so.
Contact: Ashkelon Excavations, [email protected], (617) 495-9385
Website: For more information and application form see Harvard excavation website or the Leon Levy Expedition website.

Israel Antiquities Authority

The Israel Antiquities Authority’s Department of Education and Information is responsible for educational programs in archaeology and heritage preservation. The department runs three centers for archaeology, offering tours, workshops, activities, enrichment courses and opportunities to participate in excavations.

For information on volunteer opportunities available at the IAA, contact Meyrav Shay: [email protected] or call her at 972 52 428 4408. Volunteers from abroad should also prepare a photocopy of their insurance policy.

The

Assaf Peretz, courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority

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