Caesarea Maritima Excavations

This listing expired on December 1, 2022. Please contact for any updated information.

Location: Caesarea, Israel

Season: June 27, 2023 to July 26, 2023

Application Deadline: December 1, 2022

Deadline Type: Contact for Details


Program Type:
Field School

RPA Certified:


Project Director:
A. Asa Eger

Project Description:

UNC-Greensboro in partnership with Florida State University will conduct a four-week Study Abroad program to the site. The Study Abroad program will be an active archaeological field school. Students will receive 6 credits for two courses of HIS 478 Research Methods in Historical Archaeology, one taken in each summer session. Both the offered classes are significant for students studying History and Archaeology and graduates who wish to work in Cultural Resource Management or attend graduate school.

Students will live near the site and engage in the daily tasks of excavation, learning on-site hands-on techniques in stratigraphic excavation, artifact recovery, and drawing sections. They will work under square and area supervisors who will be doctoral students in archaeology from other universities. Over the course of the four weeks in the field, students will learn how to record excavations on site keeping a dig diary, how to excavate using heavy (picks and shovels) and light (trowels and handpicks) equipment, how to measure and draw daily site plans, how to recognize and sort artifacts, how to use a dumpy level instrument to obtain exact elevations in relation to sea level, and how to draw excavation trench sections and interpret stratigraphy – the key to understanding archaeological methodology. In the early evening, students will wash and sort pottery and bone, sort other artifact categories for restoration and conservation (such as glass and metal), learn how to group and identify ceramics and process them qualitatively for later analysis, and learn how to draw ceramic vessels from recovered sherds. Students will also be able to work with staff and learn digital modeling and mapping skills from Total Station surveying and 3D modeling. The Study Abroad program will be about 40 hours a week of excavation and material culture processing. Students will excavate from Sunday to Thursday (five days a week), working from 6:30 am-12:30 pm on-site and 5-7pm at the camp.

There will be one lecture a week after dinner on the archaeology and history of the surround region in the classical through modern periods. These lectures will be given at the dig house by staff and invited local scholars. There will be one weekend excursion to other archaeological sites around in the Galilee in northern Israel. There will be several assigned readings to be done before students arrive. You will be mainly evaluated by your area and trench supervisors on your performance and behavior during the field school. A final ‘reflection’ paper will be due 2 weeks upon return to the United States. Graduate students, such as those in Public History, can take HIS 697 and receive 6 credits. Students at other universities can register at UNCG’s Study Abroad as visiting students and pay a $25.00 processing fee.

The Study Abroad is also open to volunteers from anywhere in the world, of any background, and any age (over 18 years). Students need to be physically able to endure work in a very hot and humid environment as befitting summer in the Middle East and demonstrated with a medical physical, if necessary. They are also responsible for their health insurance in Israel. Upon completion of these two courses, students will know the basics of archaeological excavation methodology, identification of material culture, and the history and archaeology of the southern Levant. Students will experience a foreign country, Israel, through the filtered eyes of a researcher and archaeologist, rather than a tourist.

Period(s) of Occupation: The site of Caesarea Maritima, on the northern coast, is one of the largest archaeological sites in Israel. It was founded as a Hellenistic anchorage settlement and developed into a significant and elaborate Roman city with a manmade harbor under Herod the Great in 22-10 BC. From then through the Byzantine period, it was the capital of the province of Palestine, and larger than Jerusalem. Archaeological projects from numerous consortia groups both have been conducted for the last fifty years, uncovering significant parts of the central city, the harbor, the Augustan Roman temple, the Byzantine octagonal church, and the Crusader church and city walls. However, little is know of the city during the Early Islamic period. Debates over the nature of the Levantine coast from the 7-10th centuries characterize it either as a depopulated no-man’s land frontier with the Byzantine controlled Mediterranean, or interspersed with key settlements actively engaged in trade and exchange. According to Islamic sources, Caesarea (Qaysariya), was a ribāṭ, a type of site that similarly either functioned as a military-religious lookout station or commercial waystation. Our renewed excavations of the city will seek to investigate the answers to these questions, searching for the Early Islamic occupation of the city and what it reveals on the nature of how classical cities transformed in the Early Islamic period, and the larger regional Levantine coast in the early Medieval period. Our area of excavations is the northeastern quadrant of the city center within the Crusader walls that has remained unexcavated (following a hypothesis that the Crusader city walls were built over Early Islamic fortifications). For students interested in public history, Caesarea offers a relatively unique experience as it is an active tourist attraction, one of the largest tourist sites in Israel. It is also one of the two most popular tourist sites; 700,000 visitors come every year, by the busload. Students will be able to examine the interface between tourist and archaeological site, how a site if preserved, restored, and showcased, what parts of history are highlighted and erased, and how to navigate the complex world of government bureaucracies (in this case two: the Israeli Antiquities Authority and the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority), land developers (the Rothschild funded Caesarea Development Fund), and academics. Indeed, as a tourist and developed site, it has been envisioned as the Acropolis or Pompeii of Israel.

Project Size: 1-24 participants

Minimum Length of Stay for Volunteers: Three weeks

Room and Board Arrangements:
$5,000 – which includes room and board at Caesarea Sea Center and three meals a day Sunday – Wednesday, breakfast and lunch on Thursday, and dinner Saturday. Dinner on Thursday, meals on Friday, and breakfast and lunch on Saturday are the student’s responsibility, except while on a field trip. Fee also includes travel to and from the site during excavations, equipment, International Program Center fees, museum and site entrance fees while on field trips, insurance, and a registration fee.

Contact Information:

Dr. A. Asa Eger

2129 MHRA Building, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro




United States

Phone: (336) 334-5992

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