I often highlight recent archaeological discoveries in this column, as well as in periodic articles for Nurturing Faith Journal and Bible Studies that we call “Diggin’ It.”

Have you ever wanted to be one of those folks who do the actual digging? For many who love the Bible, that’s a long-held dream – but where to even start?

Here’s your best chance ever: I’m hereby inviting you to join me and some of our students from Campbell University Divinity School on a dig in northern Israel this summer. We’ll be part of an ongoing excavation project at Tel Shimron, a Canaanite city-state on an important trade route at the border between Lower Galilee and the Jezreel Valley.

The tel, located a few miles west of Nazareth and north of Megiddo, shows signs of settlement from the Early Bronze Age (roughly 3600-2000 BCE) through the Mamluk period around 1500 CE. The expedition is currently focusing on remains from the Middle Bronze Age (2000-1550 BCE) and the Roman period (63 BCE-330 CE) – from the time of Abraham to the time of Jesus and the early church.

The sunrise seen rising over a tent erected over an archaeological dig site.

(Photo: Tony W. Cartledge)

The excavation, ongoing since 2017, is co-directed by Daniel Master of Wheaton College and Mario Martin of Tel Aviv University’s Institute of Archaeology, along with a highly trained and experienced staff.

We’ll be joining for weeks two and three of the six-week season following a three-day mini-tour of Jerusalem and the surrounding area – time to adjust to the seven-hour time difference before we get our hands dirty.

We’ll leave from Raleigh-Durham on Wednesday, June 21, connecting through JFK in New York for an overnight flight on American Airlines, arriving in Tel Aviv the next afternoon. We’ll spend three nights in Jerusalem, touring the Old City and surrounding areas before traveling Sunday to Nahalal, the oldest moshav in Israel.

In Nahalal, we will lodge in a school dormitory. All meals are included, though supermarkets and restaurants are also in walking distance. A swimming pool is available.

We’ll dig Monday through Friday for two weeks, with extra excursions planned for Saturdays, and a day off on Sunday. We’ll depart around midnight July 8 and arrive back in the states on Sunday, July 9.

An archaeological dig is a rich and rewarding adventure, but make no mistake: it is also work. We’ll be in northern Israel, digging on a hill above the beautiful Jezreel Valley. It gets hot in the summer, so we begin digging with the sun at 5:00 a.m., take a couple of breaks (including one for breakfast), and dig until lunchtime.

People standing by a white, folding table with various artifacts on it from an archaeological dig.

(Photo: Tony W. Cartledge)

After lunch, we wash the pottery, bone fragments, or other artifacts we’ve found, and set them out to dry so they can be “read” or examined to determine their date and purpose.

We then return to Nahalal for showers and rest before dinner. On some nights, we’ll attend field school lectures to learn more about the work.

Participants need to be healthy, relatively fit, able to build relationships, and willing to do the work.

What does it cost? Our travel arrangements will be through Doron Heiliger Tours. Doron is a good friend and a top guide: I’ve worked with him on various Israel trips for more than 25 years. The cost for airfare from RDU, lodging in Jerusalem, a nice motor coach for travel, and meals prior to the dig is $2700, with two people per room. Single rooms are available, with a surcharge of $500. The cost may be higher for persons wishing to fly from other airports.

The cost for lodging, meals, and participation in the dig itself is $1250, staying three to a room. Single rooms may be available, but at triple the price.

For most people, the total will be $3,950. We’re not promoting this as a “Good Faith Experience,” but GFM supporters are welcome join us. All of the arrangements will be made through Campbell University Divinity School.

To learn more about the Tel Shimron dig, visit the excavation’s website, or a promotional dig page sponsored by Biblical Archaeology Review.

If you’d like more information, or just want to talk to me about it, email me at tony@goodfaithmedia.org and we can chat by email or make arrangements for a phone call. We hope to have the group finalized no later than mid-February.

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