Excavation Opportunities 1985
Choose your site, your dates and your historical period
Do you want to do more than just read about the archaeology of the Holy Land? Do the pictures in BAR make you wish you had a trowel and a brush and a chance to expose a pot, a wall or an inscribed sherd that’s been buried for 3,000 years? If you’re in good physical shape, willing to work hard and eager to learn more about Biblical archaeology, you’ll find joining an excavation an exciting way to spend this summer.
In this section, we’ve described some of the digs seeking volunteers next summer. (Others, whose plans are incomplete, will be reported in later issues of BAR.) You can choose an excavation in its first season, or one that has been going on for years. Maybe you prefer to dig at Timnah, an excavation that provides the more luxurious accommodations of a hotel, or perhaps you’ll sacrifice a private bath in order to dig at Biblical Lachish, where the team lives in a tent camp. You can choose to dig down to the earliest level of occupation at Tel Dan, or to unearth and preserve a huge mosaic at Caesarea, or to restore and draw pottery at Michmoret and Tel el Efshar, to name just a few options. Consider the location: If you decide to join the team at Aphek, you’ll be close to Jerusalem. At Ashkelon, you’ll be on the Mediterranean. At Dan you’ll be at a spring that is one of the sources of the Jordan River.
Digging can be backbreaking work under a sweltering sun. But with adversity comes camaraderie among volunteers of different ages, languages and experiences.
Imagine the feeling as your trowel hits something hard and you scrape away the dirt from an ancient oil lamp.
Grace Kellner of West Seneca, New York, said of her experience at Tel Dor, “Be prepared for heavy physical labor! Digging is not always fun and exciting. But what makes it worthwhile is the sense that you are a part of history—that you could be standing on the spot where Joshua or King David stood.”
The only Assyrian siege ramp ever discovered and the Judean counter-ramp opposite it will be explored by volunteers digging this summer at Lachish. Partially uncovered in excavations in the 1930s, the ramps were never intensively investigated until last summer. (See “News from the Field: Defensive Judean Counter-Ramp Found at Lachish in 1983 Season,” BAR 10:02.)
Lachish, second only to Jerusalem in its prominence in Biblical times, was conquered by the Assyrians under Sennacherib in 701 B.C. and by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 587 B.C. The ramp excavated in 1983 is the one used in the Assyrian siege.
Excavations in 1985 will take place from June 16 to August 9 in the ramp areas as well as in the lower (Late Bronze Canaanite, c. 1550–1200 B.C.) levels of the site.
Volunteers should be at least 18 years old and carry medical and accident insurance. Academic credit may be arranged through Tel Aviv University. Those who want academic credit must enroll in two three-credit sessions—from June 16 to July 12 and from July 14 to August 9. The cost of participation with credits totals $1,110 for the season. For those participants not enrolled for credit, the cost is $120 for each of the first four weeks, $90 for the fifth week, $60 for the sixth week and $30 for the seventh and for the eighth week. The total cost for the season without the study program is $690. Students who wish to audit the courses may do so for $40 extra. The expedition camp is erected in a beautiful, spacious eucalyptus grove, one mile north of the mound. Volunteers must stay a minimum of two weeks.
Contact: Song Nai Rhee, Northwest Christian College, 11th and Alder Streets, Eugene, Oregon 97401. Tel: (503) 687–9456.
Tel Batash (Timnah)
Located on the ancient border between Israel and Philistia, Tel Batash (ancient Timnah), is identified in the Bible as the place from which Samson took a Philistine wife (Judges 14). Later, the city was recaptured by Israelites (perhaps during the reign of David). The Philistines won back Timnah from King Ahaz in about 725 B.C.
Excavations have revealed the stratification of the city gates, Late Bronze dwellings and well-preserved Iron Age buildings. The defensive system of a Bronze Age town was also uncovered at Tel Batash. This year’s dig will investigate Israelite urban planning.
The dig is sponsored by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Led by George L. Kelm and Amihai Mazar, the excavation opens on June 13 and ends July 19. Six hours of credit are available through Southwestern Baptist University for $100.
Volunteers may join a pre-dig travel program in Italy from June 3 through 12. In Israel, participants will stay at the Shoresh Hotel, approximately 20 miles from the site. Field trips and lectures will be interspersed throughout the season. The minimum stay is three weeks.
Contact: George L. Kelm, Timnah Expedition, P.O. Box 22417, Fort Worth, Texas 76122. Tel: (817) 923–1921.
Located in the agricultural heartland of Israel, the Yoqne’am Regional Project studies several related ancient sites in the Jezreel plain. (See “The Regional Study—A New Approach to Archaeological Investigation,” BAR 06:02) Today, this fertile expanse between the hills of Galilee, Mount Carmel and the Samarian hills provides Israel with wheat, cotton and corn. More than 3,000 years ago the peaceful farmland was the battlefield where Barak, the commander of the prophetess Deborah, destroyed the chariots of Jabin, King of Hazor (Judges 4), and where Gideon defeated the Midianites (Judges 7).
This year volunteers will dig at Tel Yoqne’am and at Tel Qashish. About 30 miles from modern Haifa, Tel Yoqne’am in antiquity was a crossroad of trade routes. It is one of the few sites in Israel continuously occupied from the Early Bronze Age (3200–2200 B.C.) until Crusader Times (1000–1300 A.D.). Israeli archaeologist Amnon Ben-Tor directs both the Tel Yoqne’am and the Tel Qashish digs.
The season begins July 1 and lasts till the end of the month. Room and board cost $75 a week, with a minimum stay of two weeks. Participants who wish to obtain academic credit must arrange it through their own universities. The dig director will supply a certificate confirming participation in the dig, and in related lectures and field trips.
Contact: Amnon Ben-Tor, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel.
Volunteers at Tel Dan in 1985 will search for the earliest levels of occupation of this site, which has been intensively excavated since 1974. One of the two cities where Jeroboam set up a golden calf after Solomon’s death, Dan is also mentioned in the Biblical phrase “from Dan to Beersheba.” Before the tribe of Dan settled there, it was known as Laish, and by that name is mentioned in the Bible and in Mari documents and Egyptian execration texts from the 18th century B.C.
Nestled at the foot of Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights, Dan is the site of one source of the Jordan River. In previous years, volunteers at Dan unearthed massive Canaanite ramparts including an intact second-millennium B.C. mudbrick gate with three arches. Also discovered at Dan were Late Bronze Age tombs with Mycenean imports, Israelite fortifications and gates, and a cult center used from Israelite to Roman times. (See “The Remarkable Discoveries at Tel Dan,” BAR 07:05)
Excavation goals this year are to complete the excavation of the upper Canaanite gate, to expose a newly discovered Israelite shrine, and to uncover the earliest remains from the ancient town. The season will last from June 16 to July 26 and will cost $950 for room and board. Participants must stay for six weeks. Six academic credits may be arranged through Hebrew Union College.
Contact: Paul M. Steinberg, Dan Volunteer Program, One West 4th Street, New York, New York 10012. Tel: (212) 674–5300.
Tel Aphek, situated at the source of the Yarkon River, guards the narrow “Aphek Pass” between the Yarkon in the west and the mountains of Samaria in the east. Numerous cities have been built at this site; one of the earliest was Biblical Aphek, where the Philistines mustered for battle with the Israelites (1 Samuel 4:1). Aphek is also mentioned in Egyptian inscriptions from the second millennium B.C. In the fourth century B.C., the Greeks renamed the city Pegae (“Springs”). In the first century B.C. Herod enlarged the city and named it Antipatris, after his father, Antipater.
The earliest remains discovered at Aphek date from the beginning of urbanization in Israel, about 3000 B.C. One of the most remarkable finds at Aphek was an inscribed clay tablet from Ugarit that helps date the destruction of the Canaanite city to the end of the 13th century B.C. Last season, evidence for a Canaanite cult at Aphek was discovered.
From June 23 to July 19, excavators will explore the earliest town at Aphek and a 062Middle Bronze Age (2200–1500 B.C.) palace. Another goal will be to determine the town plan of Antipatris.
Volunteers will be housed at the Petah Tikvah School for Gardening, where meals will be served Sunday evening through Friday. The cost of room and board is $100 per week, with a minimum required stay of two weeks. Up to six credits may be arranged through Tel Aviv University at $60 per credit.
Contact: Moshe Kochavi, Aphek-Antipatris Expedition, Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv, University, Ramat Aviv 69978, Israel.
Emeq Hefer Project
Eight volunteers are needed for the Emeq Hefer Archaeological Research Project’s study season during May and June. The project excavates at Tel el Efshar on the Mediterranean and at Michmoret, a nearby port at the mouth of the Alexander River. This summer, volunteers will draw and restore some of the abundant imported and local pottery found at these sites.
The cost will be $150 per week with a minimum stay of six weeks. No academic credit will be offered.
Contact: Samuel Paley, c/o Department of Classics, State University of New York at Buffalo, New York 14260.
The first season of new excavations opens this summer at Ashkelon. The excavations are sponsored by the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and are directed by Lawrence Stager.
Ashkelon was first excavated in 1815 by Lady Hester Stanhope. (See “Restoring the Reputation of Lady Hester Lucy Stanhope,” BAR 10:04.) In this century, it has been excavated sporadically. From brief excavations a half century ago, we know that the site was a major seaport of the Canaanites and that its merchants traded as far as Cyprus and the Aegean world. Pharaoh Merneptah records in the Israel Stele that he overcame Canaanite Ashkelon shortly before 1200 B.C. Ashkelon is mentioned in the Bible as one of the five major cities of the Philistines and as their major seaport. When Saul and Jonathan were slain by the Philistines, David implored the Israelites, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the bazaars of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult” (2 Samuel 1:20).
In this first season, volunteers will determine the sequence of settlements at the site, the size of the city and aspects of its plan from the Bronze Age to Crusader times, with special emphasis on Philistine (Iron Age) Ashkelon. Housing will be provided on the site in bungalows near the beach. The season lasts from June 10 to July 26, and the cost is $1,300. Participants must remain for the entire season, and credit may be arranged.
Contact: Lawrence Stager, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago, 1155 E. 58th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60637. Tel: (312) 962–9552.
Tel Miqne (Ekron)
Another major Philistine site, Ekron, or Tel Miqne, is the largest Iron Age site in Israel. During the 1984 season, two decisive chapters of Ekron’s history were brought to light—its beginning and its demise. Excavators found remains of the Canaanite city the Philistines invaded at the end of the 13th century B.C. After putting the city to the torch, the Philistines rebuilt and fortified it on a large scale, eventually occupying an area of more than 50 acres.
The excavators also uncovered the final occupation of the city, which ended in total destruction in the sixth century B.C.—a destruction that was part of either the Egyptian invasion of Judah under Pharaoh Necho II or the Babylonian conquest of Judah.
Plans for the 1985 season include an exploration of the Middle and Late Bronze Canaanite fortification systems lying below cotton fields surrounding the tel and an investigation of the dramatic transition from the Late Bronze Canaanite culture to the Philistine Iron Age I culture in the 13th century B.C. Volunteers will also evaluate the relationship of the food growing and animal husbandry capacity of the area around the tel to the occupational pattern of the site.
The season will last from June 23 until August 2, and the cost of the six-week session, including two hours of credit, is $1,080. There will also be a limited number of three-week opportunities. Participants will stay at a campsite at Kibbutz Revadim, where a swimming pool and tennis courts are available for use during free time.
Contact: Ernest S. Frerichs, Tel Miqne U.S. Consortium and Volunteer Director, Program in Judaic Studies, Box 1826, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912. Tel: (401) 863–3900.
Josephus portrays Sepphoris as the foremost 064city of the Galilee in the Herodian period, calling it “the ornament of all Galilee” (Antiquities, XVIII, ii, 2). But the existence of an earlier settlement is indicated by the discovery of an Iron Age II (c. 1000–586 B.C.) burial pit. During the Hasmonean period, Sepphoris was probably the administrative center for the whole Galilee. During the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans (67–70 A.D.), the residents of Sepphoris were pro-Roman, and the city was known as Eirenopolis (“City of Peace”). It was renamed Diocaesarea in about 130 A.D. and remained a Jewish city until the fifth century or later.
Previous excavations and chance finds have yielded part of a synagogue mosaic floor, an inscription concerning the renovation of a church in 518 A.D., and a Roman theater with a seating capacity of about 5,000. Remains of a Crusader church and fort still stand on the site.
This season, volunteers will try to recover the full occupational history of the site through soundings on the citadel and in the village. In addition, an aqueduct and reservoirs will be excavated.
The season opens June 22 and lasts until July 26. Two courses for three credits each will be given for $642 per course. Volunteers must enroll for credit, and they will stay at the agricultural school at Nahalal. The minimum stay is five weeks, and the cost of room and board is $816. A package deal including airfare (from New York), room and board and tuition is available for $3,000.
Contact: Carol Meyers, Department of Religion, P.O. Box 4735, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina 27706. Tel: (919) 684–3494.
At Caesarea, Herod, master builder of the ancient world, constructed a magnificent port city, the first port in history built on a seacoast without the benefit of any natural features. (See “Caesarea Maritima: The Search for Herod’s City,” BAR 08:03)
Surprisingly, no visible tel remains on the spot where the Herodian city lay. But the absence of a tel in the traditional sense does not mean that there are no stratified remains. In fact, excavations have uncovered at least nine major strata in the city.
Past excavations have also enabled archaeologists to map out a city plan dating from the Herodian foundation. Beautiful mosaics, aqueducts, and municipal and provincial archives have also been discovered at Caesarea. This summer, volunteers will excavate, record, lift, solidify and preserve one of the largest mosaics ever found in Israel.
The excavation will be divided into three-week sessions from June through August. Two teams will work at Caesarea; one team will continue the excavation of the site, and the other team will help with the conservation of the mosaic. Accommodations are at Kayit V’ Shayit, a beach camp on the Mediterranean.
Contact: Robert J. Bull, Drew Archaeological Institute, Drew University, Madison, New Jersey 07940. Tel: (201) 377–3000.
The six-week season at Tel Dor, one of the largest mounds in Israel, will begin this year on July 3. Probably settled in 1750–1650 B.C. by Canaanites, Dor was an important port city until the end of the Hellenistic period.
This summer’s excavation will further explore Iron Age levels down to the Late Bronze strata. Persian defense systems discovered last year will be studied, and volunteers will work to uncover more of an Iron Age gate house.
The season will run until August 14, and volunteers must stay a minimum of two weeks. Two or four credits can be obtained through Hebrew University at $40 a credit.
The daily schedule leaves time for a swim in the Mediterranean at breakfast time, and tours to historical sites will be arranged throughout the summer.
Contact: H. Neil Richardson, 168 Mt. Vernon Street, Newtonville, Massachusetts 02160. Tel: (617) 332–1971.
“Then Joshua built an altar on Mount Ebal to the Lord … ”(Joshua 8:30).
Digging at Mount Ebal, Adam Zertal and a team of archaeologists have uncovered an Israelite altar and cult center dating to the time of Joshua. (See “Has Joshua’s Altar Been Found on Mt. Ebal?” in this issue.)
Participation is limited to a maximum of 35 volunteers in each of four one-week sessions. The season will last from June 30 to July 26, with each session beginning Sunday night and ending Friday noon. The price of $100 per week includes room and board at a nearby youth hostel as well as transportation to and from the beach resort of Netanya. Lectures on Biblical archaeology, including the history of the period of the Israelite settlement, will be given during each session.
Contact: Ms. A. Wolf, 1007 Highland Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. Tel: (301) 587–0927.
A find unprecedented in Israel was exposed last year when archaeologists at Yiftahel uncovered complete plans of Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) and Early Bronze I (EB I) (c. 3150–2850 B.C.) houses. A prehistoric valley site by a spring in the Galilee, Yiftahel boasts substantial remains from both the PPNB and EBI periods.
Volunteers are being recruited this summer for a minimum stay of two weeks. Accommodations and cost are not yet set. No college credit is available.
Contact: Eliot Braun, c/o Israel Department of Antiquities, 91000 Jerusalem, Israel.
One of the largest Chalcolithic (4.000–3150 B.C.) settlements in the Negev, this 23.5-acre site provides a unique opportunity to investigate the development of early complex societies in the southern Levant. The season lasts from August 28 to October 7, with a minimum participation of one week. There is a registration fee of $15, and volunteers may camp at the site for free.
Contact: Thomas Levy, Ranavat Safat 10/2, Beersheva 84770, Israel.
New excavations begun at Hayonim Terrace in 1980 and 1981 have uncovered remains from the prehistoric epi-Paleolithic period.
The finds include deposits from the Mousterian, Aurignacian, Kebaran and Natufian periods. These previous investigations have also exposed part of a prehistoric house and a rich industry including flint, bone and stone tools.
Volunteers will stay in the Akko Youth Hostel nearby. There is a minimum stay of 15 days during the season, which lasts from July 2 to September 22.
Contact: Francois R. Valla, Mission Permanente du CNRS B.P. 57, Jerusalem 91004, Israel.
Recreating the industries of an ancient village is the goal of the Ein Yael project. Located among the terraced hills of the Rephaim Valley outside of Jerusalem, Ein Yael and nearby settlements were major food providers in Biblical times. (See “Ancient Jerusalem’s Rural Food Basket,” BAR 08:04.) Today, archaeologist Gershon Edelstein seeks volunteers to help reconstruct the technology and buildings used in these agricultural centers. The result will be a unique “open air” museum, where researchers and students can study farm terraces, wine and oil presses, cisterns and water conduits.
Volunteers over 16 will be accepted at Ein Yael in June through August, with a minimum stay of one week. There are no fees. Accommodations may be arranged at nearby youth hostels or hotels.
Contact: Gershon Edelstein, Department of Antiquities, Rockefeller Museum, POB 586, Jerusalem 91004, Israel.
An Iron Age (seventh–sixth century B.C.) fortress uncovered at Horvat Uza may be one of those built by King Jotham or King Jehosaphat and mentioned in Chronicles (2 Chronicles 17, 27). The fortress at this eastern Negev site was re-used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Horvat Uza seeks volunteers this summer to help explore the fortress’s casemate wall and courtyard. The season begins June 3 and runs until June 28. Accommodations in the Nof Arad Hotel in Arad cost $150 a week. For those desiring academic credit, three or six credits are available for an additional fee.
Contact: Bruce Cresson, Institute of Archaeology, Baylor University, Waco, Texas 76798. Tel: (817) 755.3735.
Do you want to do more than just read about the archaeology of the Holy Land? Do the pictures in BAR make you wish you had a trowel and a brush and a chance to expose a pot, a wall or an inscribed sherd that’s been buried for 3,000 years? If you’re in good physical shape, willing to work hard and eager to learn more about Biblical archaeology, you’ll find joining an excavation an exciting way to spend this summer. In this section, we’ve described some of the digs seeking volunteers next summer. (Others, whose plans are incomplete, will […]