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Tel Beth Shemesh Archaeological Project

Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

June 14, 2014 to July 11, 2014

Session dates: 
Single session

Application Deadline: 
Saturday, June 14, 2014

Deadline Type: 

Program Type

Field school

RPA certified



University of Lethridge (Canada), Tel Aviv University and the Institute for Field Research

Project Director:

Dr. Shawn Bubel, University of Lethridge, Dr. Zvi Lederman, Tel Aviv University & Dr. Shlomo Bunimovitz, Tel Aviv University

Project Description

Since the beginning of modern explorations of the ancient Near East, Tel Beth Shemesh attracted great interest. Its long sequence of occupational history has yielded significant data about local cultural histories, trade and the evolution of local agricultural practices.  During the Late Bronze and Iron Ages, Tel Beth-Shemesh is located at the geographic meeting point of three different ethnic and cultural groups (Philistines, Canaanites and Israelites), making it an ideal site to investigate ancient geopolitical, social, and cultural dynamics at a border zone.  The main objective of this field school is to expose students to the archaeological process, from excavation to analysis, and the importance of rigorous yet adaptable excavation and recording techniques. Through hands-on learning, students gain experience in excavating and field documentation. They will also be introduced to the intellectual challenges presented by archaeological research, including the need to adjust field strategies as discoveries are made and theories change. Furthermore, students receive training in laboratory analysis and have the opportunity to process and catalogue the cultural remains they find.

Period(s) of Occupation: Bronze and Iron Ages

Project size: 
1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: full program

Minimum age: 
18 years old

Experience required: 
No previous experience is required

Room and Board Arrangements

During the week, students and staff stay in the modest but comfortable guest houses at kibbutz Tzora, which is just a few miles from the site. Each room accommodates 3-4 people, is air-conditioned, and has an adjoining bathroom. Bedding and towels are provided by the guest-house.
All meals will be communal events and will provide plenty of nutritious, basic food in the tradition of local cousin. Lunch and dinner are served in the central meeting room on the kibbutz. A variety of dishes will be prepared, each of which will have a protein, vegetables, and a starch (rice, potatoes, bread, etc.). Israel is known for its fresh vegetables and fruit, so you will have lots of opportunity to try these. Breakfast is served on site (second breakfast) and normally includes cucumbers, tomatoes, greens and other fresh vegetables, eggs, bread, cereal, fresh milk and yoghurt. Food treats on the weekends would be falafel and shawarma dishes. The meals are kosher. Special dietary needs cannot be guaranteed, but vegetable dishes are always served. Other, more specific dietary needs cannot be accommodated. Tap water at the kibbutz and throughout Israel is safe to drink.


All room and board costs are included in tuition (excluding weekend meals)

Academic Credit

Name of institution offering credit: 
Connecticut College
Number of credits offered 8 semester credit units (equivalent to 12 quarter units)


Contact Information
Institute for Field Research
1855 Industrial St. #106
Los Angeles
424 226-6130
Recommended Bibliography: 

Ashkenazi, Hai, Look, Cory, Lederman, Zvi, and Bunimovitz, Shlomo. 2008. "Destruction Analysis Using GIS at Tel Beth-Shemesh, Israel." Paper presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, Boston.

Bubel, Shawn. 2012. "Contributions of Lithic Analysis to the Understanding of the Late Bronze and Iron Ages at Tel Beth-Shemesh." Paper presented at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting, Chicago.

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Faust, Avraham. 2010. "Re-constructing Biblical Archaeology: Toward an Integration of Archaeology and the Bible," In Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism, edited by Thomas E. Levy, pp. 45-56. Equinox Publishing Limited: Sheffield

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Lederman, Zvi. 2012. "Iron Age Iron: From Invention to Innovation," In Studies in Mediterranean Archaeology: Fifty Years On, edited by Jennifer M. Webb and David Frankel, Vol. CXXXVII, pp. 103-112. Astroms Forlag: Uppsala.

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Lederman, Zvi. 2011. "Canaanite Resistance: The Philistines and Beth-Shemesh – A Case Study from Iron Age I." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 334: 37-51.

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Lederman, Zvi. 2009. "The Archaeology of Border Communities – Renewed Excavations at Tel Beth-Shemesh, Part 1: The Iron Age," Near Eastern Archaeology 72: 114-142.

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Lederman, Zvi. 2006. "The Early Israelite Monarchy in the Sorek Valley: Tel Beth-Shemesh and Tel Batash (Timnah) in the 10th and 9th Centuries BCE." In I Will Speak the Riddles of Ancient Times: Archaeological and Historical Studies in Honor of Amihai Mazar on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday, edited by Aren M. Maeir and Pierre de Miroschedji, Vol. 2, pp. 402-427. Eisenbrauns: Winona Lake.

Bunimovitz, Shlomo and Lederman, Zvi. 1997. "Beth-Shemesh: Culture Conflict on Judah’s Frontier," Biblical Archaeology Review 23 (1): 42-49, 75-77.

Manor Dale. In Press. "A Priest’s House at Beth-Shemesh? And Incised qdš Bowl and the 701 BCE Destruction." In Tel Beth-Shemesh: A Border Community in Judah. Renewed Excavations 1990-2000: The Iron Age, edited by Shlomo Bunimovitz and Zvi Lederman. Institute of Archaeology, Monograph Series. Tel Aviv University Press.

Manor Dale. 2013. "Beth-Shemesh." In The Oxford Encyclopedia of The Bible and Archaeology, edited by Daniel M. Master, Volume 1, pp. 129-139. Oxford University Press.

Ziffer, I., Bunimovitz, S., and Lederman, Z. 2009. "Divine or Humane? An Intriguing Plaque Figurine from Tel Beth-Shemesh," Ägypten und Levante 19: 333-341.