Israel - Tel Beth Shemesh


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 was 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. 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). We reached the very top of the Late Bronze Age destruction layer at the end of last season (2014) so this year will be especially exciting. Within and under this 13th Century BCE destruction layer we expect to find fired mudbricks, complete ceramic vessels, some of which will likely contain charred plant remains, and many artifacts still preserved in their primary context. We will be excavating in an area of the site where we discovered a very large palace from the el-Amarna Period (14th Century BCE), which may have been the seat of a (female!) monarch who ruled the walled Canaanite city and its environs. 

Israel - Tel Beth Shemesh - Institute for Field Research Field Schools Israel - Tel Beth Shemesh Israel - Tel Beth Shemesh 18-35 2014-06-20 Study Abroad Archaeology

Course Dates: May 31-Jun 27, 2015
Enrollment Status: CLOSED
Total Cost: $ 4,900
Course Type: Field Archaeology
Payment Deadline: April 25, 2015
Instructors: Dr. Shawn Bubel, Dr. Zvi Lederman, Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz
Orientation:  April 20, 6:00 pm PST



The directors welcome emails and inquiries about the research elements of this project. More general questions (tuition, health insurance, payment schedule) may be addressed by IFR staff. 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.

bubel new image

Dr. Shawn Bubel

Dr. Buble ( is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Lethbridge (Canada).  For more information, click here.
lederman new 1

Dr. Zvi Lederman

Dr. Lederman ( is Project Director at the Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Israel).  For more information, click here.
Shlomo Bunimovitz

Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz

Prof. Bunimovitz ( is a Professor at the Department of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University (Israel).  For more information, click here.


"If you are thinking about excavating at Tel Beth-Shemesh, do not hesitate! This is an incredibly rewarding field school, where you will learn pivotal field techniques and methodology, while engaging with vibrant and exciting material. Be prepared to get dirty in this intensive hands-on field school where you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished academics in their fields of study. Being able to spend a month excavating in Israel while taking in the beautiful scenery throughout the country is an experience I will never forget. I have made some of my closest friends at TBS and hold this site very dear to my heart."

-Tara Collett, University of Lethbridge (2014)

"The field school at Tel Beth-Shemesh is a wonderful experience for anybody looking to work in archaeology in the future, or for those who just want to see what an excavation is like. The field school provided ample training in archaeological methods of excavation, and with the nightly lectures on the area, it provided a clear insight into the history of the site and the people who would have lived there. I fell in love with the country of Israel and the people there, and would highly recommend that others give it a try. The work is intense, but the knowledge you receive, the skills you gain, and the friends you make are worth every moment."

-Holly Krause, University of Lethbridge (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, University of Lethbridge (2014)

"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, University of Lethbridge (2014)

"Going to Israel was without a doubt the best decision I have ever made. Aside from learning about field techniques I also got the opportunity to experience the world from a totally different culture. It was a life changing experience that changed my views not only on archaeology but also on our own perceptions of the world. The long days and hard work helped me to understand a work ethic and made me realize archaeology was what I wanted to do. It was an opportunity to make new friends and strengthen old ones. Israel is a beautiful part if the world full of history and undiscovered wonders under every rock. It was, without a doubt, the best trip I have ever taken, and it was truly awe-inspiring experience. I would recommend it to anyone and go again in a heartbeat."

-Eric Skawski, University of Lethbridge (2014)




Student Fees

Deposit: 500 USD
Tuition: 4,400 USD
TOTAL: 4,900 USD
Once your application is accepted, the deposit fee secures your seat in this project. This program requires an application. There is no application fee. Only accepted students are provided with the link to pay the deposit fee.

What is Covered:

Read More +

  • Costs of instruction
  • Room & board. Look at the field school syllabus above for details
  • Credit units and two transcripts
  • All local transportation
  • Health Insurance and Political & Natural Disaster Evacuation Insurance - For all international programs
  • An IFR T-Shirt
  • A 2% 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 April 25, 2015.


During the week, students and staff stay in the modest but comfortable guest-house at kibbutz Nativ HaLamed-heh – 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.  

MEALS:  All meals will be communal events and will 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, so students will have lots of opportunities to try these. Breakfast is served on site (second breakfast) and normally includes cucumbers, tomatoes, 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.