Tell es-Safi/Gath (Hebrew Tel Tsafit) is a commanding mound located on the border between the Judean foothills (the Shephelah) and the coastal plain, approximately halfway between Jerusalem and Ashkelon (Click HERE to check the weather at Tell es-Safi). At about 100 acres in size, it is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in Israel. Tell es-Safi is identified as Canaanite and Philistine Gath, known from various ancient sources such as the El-Amarna texts from Egypt, and from the Bible it is known as the home town of Goliath and Achish (as mentioned in the book of Samuel). Archaeological excavations and surveys on the site indicate that the site was inhabited virtually continuously from the Chalcolithic period (5th millennium BCE) until 1948.
Since 1996, a team of archaeologists from the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies at Bar-Ilan University,under the direction of Prof. Aren M. Maeir, has been studying the archaeology and history of Tell es-Safi/Gath. This project, which has become one of the major excavations currently being conducted in the Levant, has yielded extremely impressive and important finds. This includes rich remains from the Bronze and Iron Ages, including finds relating to the Canaanite culture (such as Early Bronze Age levels, Middle Bronze Age fortifications, and Late Bronze Age inscription), and rich finds from the various stages of the Iron Age Philistine culture. This includes the earliest known deciphered Philistine inscription (the so-called “Goliath inscription), cultic remains of various kinds, well-preserved destruction layers with hundreds of complete finds, and the world earliest known siege system (related to the conquest of Gath by Hazael of Aram, as mentioned in II Kings 12: 17-18).
The excavations at Tell es-Safi/Gath welcome volunteers and students who wish to join our team (for a detailed description of the programs, please check out the “registration and information package”). There are several options for those interested in joining the excavations team:
1) As a volunteer, for minimum stay of two weeks. This includes participation in the various excavation related activities, as well as in the field trips and lectures that are given during the dig;
2) As a participant in the accredited field school program. Students that are interested can sign up for an accredited field school program that is run during the excavation. Credit from Bar-Ilan University (accepted at major school throughout the world, but please check with your institution) is offered, for 2 weeks (3 credits) or weeks (6 credits) of participation. Participants in the field school will learn techniques of field archaeology, including field registration, stratigraphy, pottery recognition, basic aspects of archaeological science, as well as participating in field trip and hearing lectures connected to the archaeology and history of the region.
3) A field school in archaeological science is conducted during the excavations, as part of the joint Bar-Ilan University/Weizmann Institute of Science program in archaeological science. A small group of students participate in this field school, which is aimed at providing an in-depth introduction to a wide array of archaeological science techniques. For more information, please contact Dr. Elisabetta Boaretto.
During the excavation, the team lives at idyllic Kibbutz Revadim, a short drive from the site. Air conditioned rooms (ca. 4 people in a room; single and double rooms available for extra prices); food is kosher. Team members have full access to the kibbutz pool, as well as other kibbutz facilities.
5 am: Wakeup
6am – 1 pm: Excavation
Afternoon: Various excavation related processes (such as pottery reading) and field trips (twice a week).
Evenings: Lectures (2-3 times a week).
We work from early Sunday afternoon until early Friday afternoon.
Weekends are off.
June 30-July 26, 2013
Price for one week (regular room) – $400.
For details of costs of program (including various options of accommodations and participation in the accredited academic field school) see the “Excavation Application”).
Some of you who planning to join us this summer as students or volunteers may have financial limitations. It is suggested to try applying for scholarships and/or stipends that assist in travel for study abroad and/or to Israel. There are many options for people of different countries and origins, and we suggest that you conduct a careful search for this on your own.