What is a research excavation?

Unlike salvage, or rescue excavations, research excavations begin with research questions. For examples: What were people’s subsistence strategies in a particular time and place? What were a site’s political and economic connections? How did environmental change effect settlement processes?

For many years, since 1964, the NGSBA’s field projects were confined to research excavations. Our first project was conducted at Tel Gezer. Starting in 1974 Tel Dan became the school’s flagship project and it has remained so ever since.

Our policy is to excavate in small areas each season, to maximize retrieval and to avoid overtaxing our resources. Generally we excavate every other year with about 20-40 students and volunteers.

In recent years we have worked in partnerships with other research-oriented institutions: with the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), Cornerstone University and the Southern Baptist Seminary at Tel Dan, and with the Centre National de Recherche Scientific (CNRS) at Tel Achziv.

List of research excavations

(from north to south)

Our Community excavations

Since 2005, the NGSBA has engaged in a series of community-based excavations.  The way we see it, archaeologists can and should make a contribution to society beyond pure research.  Interaction with community results in a mutually beneficial exchange. By engaging in archaeological survey, excavation and artifact processing, community members gain valuable insights into their countryside and its past.  A deeper sense of belonging and investment follows.  For archaeologists, the gain takes the form of public guardianship of archaeological sites and greater appreciation for our work.  Certainly, community archaeology has its limitations, but the benefits, pleasures and sense of contribution far outweigh the inconveniences.

List of community excavations

Our Salvage Excavations

The below descriptions are brief accounts of the salvage work carried out by Y.G. Archaeology under the academic auspices of the NGSBA. More extensive accounts will be made available when field work has been completed—in the form of a report to the client and the IAA. Following lab analysis and interpretation, the final stage will entail detailed publication. Small-scale projects will usually be published here on the website. Larger-scaled projects will often be published in print as well. In such cases, links will be provided to pdf files of these reports.

List of salvage excavations

(from north to south)

Dig with Us

Tel Dan is located in the Hula Valley, where the largest tributary of the Jordan River begins its course south.  In the Hebrew Bible, the site is also referred to as Laish (Genesis 14:14; Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29).  The name appears in ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian texts dating from the 19th to the 15th century BCE.  Massive ramparts and an intact mud-brick gate with three complete arches dating to approximately 1750 BCE were uncovered, the gate being one of the earliest found anywhere.

Important finds: House of David stele, Middle Bronze Age mudbrick gate, Israelite High Place, “tree of life” monument, bilingual “God who is in Dan” inscription

Mark your calendar for the 2020 season excavations at Tel Dan

Excavation Directors

Dr. David Ilan, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem
Dr. Yifat Thareani, Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem
Dr. Jonathan Greer, Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary


June 26-July 23, 2020

Conditions and amenities

Minimum 2 week, residence at the Mt. Hermon Field School: generally 2-3 volunteers per room, a/c, laundry, internet access, hiking trails.  Field trips will take place one afternoon each week.  Weekend trips can be organized upon request.


  • Registration: $100 (deadline May 1, 2020, candidates who are not accepted will have this fee returned)
  • 2 weeks (one weekend) $1180
  • 3 weeks (two weekends) $1770
  • 4 weeks (three weekends) $2200
  • 5 weeks (four weekends) $2600

Credit course

Includes four lectures a week and one field trip (the 3 credit course requires a minimum of 4 weeks participation). The tuition fee for this course is $500.

Checks should be made out to: “Hebrew Union College”

Goals of the 2020 season:

  1. We will continue digging in Area B, into the early Iron Age levels (circa 1200-1000 BCE), to flesh out the architectural plans and to facilitate spatial analysis of houses and neighborhoods, to understand lifestyle, economy, social identity (ethnicity) and political organization.  We are especially interested in retrieving carbonized grain from the Strata V and IVA destruction levels and to submit them for C14 dating (we have dates from wood, but the wood might already have been old when the town was destroyed).
  2. We will continue digging in the new area in the center of the site, Area L, in the 8th cent. BCE levels destroyed in an earthquake.  What does a town look, one minute before disaster strikes?  How to people react to such a catastrophe? We will also be emphasizing “household archaeology” here. Is the earthquake mentioned in the book of Amos (Chapter 1)?

Daily schedule:

  • 5:00    wake-up
  • 5:30    transport to site
  • 5:45    begin work
  • 8:30    breakfast (on site)
  • 11:00  short break
  • 13:00  back to kibbutz for lunch and rest
  • 16:30  pottery washing
  • 18:00  lecture
  • 19:00  dinner
  • 20:00   free (occasional lecture or film)

Field trips: Banias, Amrit Temple, Nimrod’s castle, Snir River Trail, Maayan Baruch Museum, Hazor, Ateret Fortress, Lake Hula Swamps, Beit Ussishkin Visitor Center.

For more information

Ms. Levana Zias
Hebrew Union College,
13 King David St.,
Jerusalem 94101 Israel
TEL +972.2.620.3257
FAX +972.2.625.1478
Mail: ngsba@huc.edu

Dr. Jonathan Greer
Cornerstone University
1001 E. Beltline Ave NE l Grand Rapids, MI 49525
TEL +1 (616) 949-5300
Mail: jonathan.greer@cornerstone.edu

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