Location: Tel Aviv, Israel
Perched high above the rolling hills of the Judean lowlands sits the mound of Azekah, an ancient Biblical stronghold overlooking the magnificent Valley of Elah where tradition holds that David battled with Goliath. For millennia, Azekah was an important border fortress and regional center that flourished due to its strategic location along one of the main routes leading from the coast to Jerusalem.
This summer, join directors Oded Lipschits, Manfred Oeming and Yuval Gadot as they excavate this Judahite stronghold that the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib called “an eagle’s nest with towers that project to the sky like swords.” And only a hundred years later, the fortress was mentioned again by the Judahite garrison station at Lachish, who famously wrote in one of their final letters, “We cannot see anymore the fire-signals of Azekah.” The site remained a strategic border post into the Hasmonean period, when King John Hyrcanus I built a massive fortified citadel atop the mound, the remains of which are still visible.
This season, the excavation will focus on uncovering the site’s expansive Late Bronze Age lower city, as well as further exposing the upper city of the Late Bronze Age that was unearthed during the 2012-2013 seasons; we will also trace the massive fortifications of the Middle Bronze city; the fortification of the Biblical city mentioned by Sennacherib (and the siege ramp laid by his army against the city); and the fortification of the Hasmonean citadel. Azekah volunteers will enjoy a pleasant dig season in the air-conditioned and Wi-Fi equipped cabins of the Nes-Harim guest house, located in the midst of a lush, green forest only 20 minute driving distance from the site.
Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze and Iron Ages, Persian to Roman Periods
Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Two weeks
Room and Board Arrangements
High above the Sorek Valley is the Nes-Harim guest house. It is located some 15 km. from Jerusalem and some 40 km. southwest of Tel Aviv. The guest house belongs to the Jewish National Fund, and it hosts youth from Israel as well as from all over the world. During the weekdays we will stay in the guest house's pastoral wooden cabins, fully equipped with air conditioning and an on sweet bathroom, in the midst of a pine forest dotted with olive, Platanus, oak, and cherub trees. There we will wash pottery, process the finds from our fieldwork, have our afternoon activities and lectures, and just relax.