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Archaeology in Israel

Archaeology in Israel
Hands-on archaeological learning experience with researchers from around the globe.
Language of Instruction: 
Academic Disciplines: 
-Open to All Majors
Jewish Studies
Religious Studies
Program Type: 
  • Hands-on participation in a cutting-edge archaeological excavation in Israel.
  • Spend three weeks working side-by-side with volunteers from around the world.
  • No experience or previous knowledge of archaeology required.
  • Spend weekends exploring and experiencing the sights and sounds of Jerusalem.
Program Summary: 

Tell es-Safi was once one of the largest cities in the entire Near East and has been continuously occupied for nearly 5,000 years.  Now, students from any major have the opportunity to participate in an active archeological dig at this massive biblical city.  Students will learn the fundamentals of archeological excavation through on-site training and make hands-on contributions to the dig underway at Tell es-Safi.  Last year’s KU team was instrumental in uncovering the entrance gate and fortification wall of this ancient biblical city.      

The volunteer excavation team is made up of people of all ages and backgrounds from around the world.  All volunteers are trained in proper excavation technique, as well as the basic principles of archaeological recording.  Student participants will contribute to the excavation, documentation, and preservation of the archaeological finds.  Afternoon field trips to points of interest and educational weekends in Jerusalem are also included in the program.  This program offers all students a unique opportunity to experience ancient Israel first-hand as part of an active archeological excavation project.


Tell es-Safi has been identified as the biblical city of Gath and is best known as the hometown of the Philistine champion Goliath.  Settled in the early Bronze Age in about 3500 B.C., Tell es-Safi was an important Philistine city and archeological evidence recovered from the site spans thousands of years of history.  Today, Tell es-Safi is an active archeological excavation research project sponsored by Bar-Ilan University as part of the Ackerman Family Bar-Ilan University Expedition to Gath.  Read more about the expedition at www.gath.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/TellesSafi-Gath.

Centrally located in Israel, students will use Tell es-Safi as a jumping off point for afternoon fieldtrips to a variety of nearby points of interest.  Weekends will be spent exploring the museums, historic and religious points of interest, and rich culture of Jerusalem, approximately 45 minutes from Tell es-Safi.

Academic Information: 

Three hours of academic credit are granted by the University of Kansas upon successful completion of the program.  Students will enroll in one of the following courses:

  •  JWSH 395: Field Experience in the Archaeology of Ancient Israel (3 credits)
  • ANTH 418: Summer Archaeological Field Work (3 credits)   

Students will engage in the history, archaeology, and historical geography of ancient Israel through hands-on participation in the archaeological excavation at Tell es-Safi.  Academic instruction includes field work conducted at the site, excursions to neighboring sites, and evening lectures.  Supplemental historical context will be provided on the weekends as students visit sites and museums in Jerusalem.


During the excavation, students will stay in family-style guest rooms at the newly constructed Zafit Regional School at Kibbutz Kfar Menahem.  Each room holds 4-6 students with a shared bathroom.  Rooms are equipped with air conditioning and Wi-Fi.  The grounds of Kfar Menahem include spacious lawns and gardens, a swimming pool, and a small grocery store.  All meals are provided and accommodations can be made for special diets.

During weekends in Jerusalem, students will stay at the historic Austrian Hospice located in Jerusalem’s Old City.  The Austrian Hospice provides modern dormitory-style accommodations with private storage lockers.  Breakfast is included, and an estimate for all other meals is included in the budget.  


Open to undergraduate and graduate students from any accredited U.S. college or university with a minimum 2.5 GPA (exceptions considered after submission of a petition).  This program is open to students from all majors; no prior excavation experience is necessary. 

Further Reading: 

Read more about the expedition at www.gath.wordpress.com or www.facebook.com/TellesSafi-Gath.

Interesting Eretz Magazine article with background information and a history of the dig site here

For additional information, contact:

Eric Welch
Department of Jewish Studies
4030 Wescoe

Program Faculty: 

Dr. Eric Welch is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Jewish Studies Program at KU, where he teaches courses in the history, archaeology, and languages of the ancient Near East.  Eric first visited Israel as a student volunteer on an archaeological project.  He now serves on the senior staff of the excavations at Tell es-Safi and has been part of the expedition since 2006.

Read more about Dr. Welch's history with excavations in Israel in a recent profile in the Kansan newspaper here.


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Deadlines Extended for Summer, Fall and Academic Year Programs.

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