Project Description


Since the beginning of modern explorations of the ancient world and it civilizations, Tel Beth-Shemesh attracted the interest of scholars and students of the ancient Near East. Its long sequence of occupational history has yielded a great deal of information about the past civilizations that flourished and faded in the region. The site is located between two valleys which were well-suited for grain production, growing grapes and olives, and animal grazing. They were also avenues of trade and communication. Tel Beth-Shemesh is located at the geographic meeting point of three different ethnic and cultural groups during the Iron Age (Philistines, Canaanites and Israelites), making it an ideal site to investigate ancient geopolitical, social, and cultural dynamics at a border zone. By applying insights gained through anthropological and archaeological research, the current expedition is shedding new light these and other theoretical issues. This summer our excavation team will concentrate in the northern area of the site in order to explore cultural diversity, continuity, and changes from Level 4 (10th Century BCE) down to Level 9 (13th Century BCE).

Download Syllabus

Course Details

  • Course Dates: June 17-July 12, 2018
  • Enrollment Status: OPEN
  • Total Cost: $4,100
  • Course Type: Field Archaeology
  • Payment Deadline: April 20, 2018
  • Instructors: Dr. Dale W. Manor, Dr. Zvi Lederman, D. Shlomo Bunimovitz
  • Online Orientation:  May 6, 2018, 11:30 AM PST
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The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general information (tuition, health insurance, and payment schedule) can be found under the ‘Students’ tab above. Any further questions may be addressed to IFR staff. Additional details about research, course schedule, travel, accommodation, and safety can be found on the syllabus. Contacting the directors or the IFR office is encouraged and appreciated. It may help you determine if this field school is a good fit for you.

Dr. Dale W. Manor
Dr. Dale W. ManorDirector
Harding University
Dr. Zvi Lederman
Dr. Zvi Lederman
Dr. Lederman is Project Director at the Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Israel).
Dr. Shlomo Bunimovitz
Dr. Shlomo Bunimovitz
Prof. Bunimovitz is a Professor at the Department of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Israel).


The Archaeological Field School at Tel Beth-Shemesh was an amazing experience and truly opens up your perspective about the culture and lifestyle of modern and Late Bronze Age Israel. The field school is completely hands-on, labor intensive, and full of duties but you will never be bored as the crew makes it completely entertaining. The professors Zvi, Shomo, Shawn, and Dale are fantastic instructors and their love for the field inspires the entire team. Whether or not if you are an archaeologist, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn about Tel Beth-Shemesh and visit various archaeological sites around Israel. While digging, perhaps you will make an astonishing discovery!

Josh Baerg (2016)
In 2014 and 2016 I attended the Tel Beth-Shemesh field school, it was an amazing experience and I would not hesitate to go back again. I had the opportunity to work with Shawn, Zvi, Hai and Shlomo who are always there to answer questions and assist you with excavating. The weekend field trips are brilliant and great way of learning about the history of Israel. I would highly recommend this field school to anyone interested in archaeology, and can guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience.
Heidi Elsley (2014 & 2016)
I participated in the Tel Beth-Shemesh Field School at the end of my fourth year of university. My major is in archaeology and I always knew that this was something I was very interested in and wanted to dedicate my life to. However, I knew that field work could potentially be a make it or break experience for whether or not I would be able to handle being a field archaeologist. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how I would like it. It was my first experience with any field work as well as any sort of heavy manual labor. However, I can honestly say that it was one of the best experiences of my life and I can’t wait to go back or participate in more excavations. It allowed me to gain new appreciation for the scientific aspect of archaeology in which stratigraphy and precise excavation methods are paramount; something which is difficult to comprehend in a classroom. It also has prompted me to want to further my education in the field of archaeology, particularly in that part of the world. We were lucky enough to work alongside some amazing archaeologists who provided so much knowledge and were always eager to help the students understand.
Also, the experiences that I have gained from traveling to this part of the world and being immersed in the culture for five weeks are something that I consider to be some of the best life lessons I could ever receive. We were there during a time of turmoil and were provided valuable insight into one of the main conflicts in the world. Ultimately, this field school has changed my life. It has provided me with new direction for my future career and has allowed me to view cultures different from my own with respect and understanding. I would suggest to anyone that it is worth their while to participate in it.

Jessica Nish (2014)
The field school at Tel Beth-Shemesh is one of the greatest experiences I have had, personally and academically. As a student of archaeology, what better place is there to dig and visit than one of the most excavated places on earth? Dr. Shawn Bubel, Dr. Zvi Lederman, and Dr. Shlomo Bunimovitz offer students an experience on and off site that is incredibly engrossing, infinitely rewarding, and a whole lot of fun! I don’t think I have ever worked harder or learned more than while under their instruction in Israel. The field school is an incredible opportunity to learn valuable field and laboratory methods, while being immersed in the many past and present cultures of Israel. The weekends are spent exploring the country, its cities, and its many archaeological sites, while the weekdays are spent uncovering the city of Beth-Shemesh. I highly recommend this trip to everyone I know, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to participate in uncovering the story of the city and its people.
Laura Shuttleworth (2014)

My experience at Tel Beth-Shemesh in the summer of 2016 was one of the major milestones in my life. Though I am not an archaeologist, to experience an archaeological dig and fully participate as an excavator was incredibly rewarding. The directors at Tel Beth-Shemesh were amazing, and the entire excavation team was incredibly helpful and encouraged a diversity of opinions and ideas within an easy and positive learning environment. What’s more, to experience a different country and culture beyond the dig site was an incredible opportunity. I will continue to tell my friends and family about my time as Indiana Jones (again, and again… and again) for the foreseeable future.

CJ Martin (2016)
My experience at Tel Beth-Shemesh was phenomenal. Excavating at Tel Beth-Shemesh taught me the practical skills I will need as an archaeologist working in the levant, as well as extensive background information on the site itself, and the area I was excavating in. It is very clear that all the staff at this field school are passionate about what they do, and are excited to share their knowledge with the students. The Excavation was extremely fun, despite the work, and I made many lifelong friends and had some amazing experiences! I can’t recommend it enough!!
Noël Watson (2016)

Tuition Includes:

  • Costs of instruction
  • Cost of Academic Credits
  • Room & board
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance

Student Fees

A nonrefundable deposit of $500 is required to secure a seat in this program.  This program requires an application (no application fee is requested). Only accepted students should pay the deposit fee. Deposit fee is part of the program Tuition. The remaining tuition, minus the $500 deposit, must be paid prior to the tuition deadline (see above under “Course Details”).

Important Note: If you were accepted to this program but did not cancel your participation by the tuition payment deadline, you are legally responsible for the full tuition regardless of attendance in this program. Please read the IFR Cancellation Policy for further clarification.

  • A 2.5% Processing Fee is automatically assessed for all credit/debit card payments
  • A $100 Late Fee will be assessed if full tuition payment is not completed by the deadline.
  • Look at the field school syllabus above for room & board details.


During the week, students and staff stay in the modest but comfortable guest-house at kibbutz Ramat Shapiro, which is 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 provide plenty of nutritious, basic food in the tradition of local cuisine. 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. Breakfast is served on site (second breakfast) and normally includes cucumbers, tomatoes, and other fresh vegetables, eggs, bread, cereal, fresh milk, and yoghurt. The meals are kosher. Specific dietary needs cannot be accommodated but vegetable dishes are always served. Tap water at the kibbutz and throughout Israel is safe to drink.

Students will need to purchase food for themselves during the weekends.

Tel Bet Shemesh, Israel
Tel Bet Shemesh, Israel

Travel Info

You should plan to fly into the Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv (TLV) no later than Sundy, June 17. Taxis can be hailed to take you to kibbutz Ramat Shapiro (cost are about $40). Other instructions dealing with logistics will be provided as the time approaches, but airline tickets should not be purchased until given the “green light” from the excavation staff. Should there be several volunteers to arrive about the same time, we should be able to arrange to have the group picked up in one of the excavation project vans.

If your flight is delayed or you miss the group’s designated meeting time, please call, text, or email Dr. Zvi Lederman ( His cell phone number will be provided to all enrolled students.


US citizens do not need a formal visa to enter Israel, but an onward or return ticket and proof of sufficient funds may be required for entry. Although the Israeli government does not require that a passport be valid for six months from the date of entry, airlines routinely do so and may decline boarding if a traveler has less than six months validity on his or her passport.

Travelers normally receive a free, three-month tourist visa upon arrival in Israel, which may be extended. It is important not to say that you are coming to Israel to work—they will understand that to mean you will be working for remuneration. Your function is as a tourist visiting various sites in Israel.

Israel no longer stamps passports with an entry stamp, but instead provides all travelers with an entry card, although travelers reserve the right to stamp the passport. All travelers should retain this entry card throughout the duration of their stay in Israel as it is their proof of lawful entry. Although not required for exit, travelers are advised to have their entry card to avoid delays when departing Israel.

Citizens of other countries should research the website of the Israeli Embassy in their home country for visa requirements.

Student Safety

Student safety is paramount for the IFR. Unlike many universities who are self-insured, the IFR purchases a range of high end insurance policies from some of the largest insurers in the world. Students in all our international programs have a comprehensive health insurance policy. It covers sickness, and chronic and mental health conditions at 100% of the cost. We have a strong evacuation and extraction policy. We can remove students from any location anywhere in the world with one phone call – whether medical evacuation, political or natural disaster extraction and anything in between. We purchase intelligence services from a global private provider and monitor the world 24/7. We automatically enroll our students to the US State Department STEP program. All of our students receive safety orientations both before and on the first day of each program. Our faculty have all been working in the areas where we operate field schools for years. They are intimately familiar with local customs and traditions, know the landscape well and have deep relationships with local communities.

All our domestic programs are coordinated with local authorities which are informed of our operations. Students in domestic programs are covered by their own health insurance and evacuations are managed by local emergency services, as appropriate.

The IFR has strong, explicit and robust policy towards discrimination and harassment in the field (click here for a shortcut). If students feel they cannot discuss personal safety issues with the field school staff, the IFR operates an emergency hotline where students can contact IFR personnel directly.

Travel does involve risk, but we try to minimize this risk as much as possible. Call us at 877-839-4374 or email us at if you have questions about the safety of particular programs.