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Ancient Israel:
Archaeology and History of the Biblical Period

A Study Program for Overseas M.A. and Ph.D. Students in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations at Tel Aviv University, Israel

The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations at Tel Aviv University in cooperation with TAU's School for Overseas Students (OSP) announces the initiation of a new credit program for overseas M.A. and Ph.D. students.

The program, which offers academic credit transferable to most American universities, is for students from various fields related to the Hebrew Bible who wish to broaden their knowledge in Biblical and Modern Hebrew, Biblical Archaeology and the history of the Land of Israel during the biblical period (Iron Age to Persian period, 12th-4th centuries BCE). It introduces students to issues of theory and methodology, and also offers the opportunity to gain fieldwork experience.

The program extends over the Spring Semester (starting February 2008) and includes seminars, field tours, study of Modern Hebrew, and an option of participation in excavations (during the summer months of June-July).

The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations in Tel Aviv University is renowned for its strong involvement in study and research of the biblical period through important excavation projects in Israel (from Tel Beer-sheba, Arad, and Lachish to the recent excavations at Megiddo, Tel Beth-Shemesh and Ramat Rahel). Its senior staff members play a leading role in the major debates that have shaped the discipline (most recently the issues of Iron Age chronology, the rise of ancient Israel, state formation in Israel and Judah, and a variety of subjects related to the post-exilic period). Participants in the program will have the opportunity to be part of the vibrant academic life of the department and will attend courses taught by scholars on the cutting edge of research in the fields of archaeology and history of Ancient Israel.

Are you a graduate student who
  • has completed or is about to complete an advanced degree (M.A. or Ph.D.) in Hebrew bible studies, ancient Near Eastern cultures and languages, Egyptology or in related fields such as biblical history, theology and religious studies
  • or is currently enrolled in a M.A. or Ph.D. program and would like to spend a semester of studies in Israel and gain archaeological field experience
Then this program is for you.


Courses are taught in English.
The program is for a period of one-semester (Spring Semester) of study in Israel plus an option of participation in summer excavations. The program starts with one month of Intensive Hebrew Language Program (Ulpan).

Seminars (for the spring semester)

¤ Text and Archaeology - Selected Problems (Prof. Israel Finkelstein)

The seminar will deal with Iron Age archaeology, the biblical text and ancient Near Eastern records. Among the topics which will be dealt with are: the rise of Early Israel in the Iron I; Philistine archaeology; Iron Age chronology; state formation in the Levant; the Northern Kingdom; the archaeology of Jerusalem; Judah in the late 8th century; Judah in the 7th century BCE: the days of Manasseh and Josiah.

¤ The Babylonian and Persian Periods in Judah: Between Bible and Archaeology (Dr. Oded Lipschits)

The seminar will deal with the historical sources to the Babylonian and Persian periods in the Levant, and will compare the historical picture with data from archaeological excavations and surveys, especially in Judah and Jerusalem. All this will be compared to the biblical sources, especially Ezra - Nehemiah, in order to learn about the value of this book for historical research as well as its ideological intentions, the stages of its composition and the different additions and editions.

¤ How did it all begin? The Land of Israel during the Bronze Age (Dr. Yuval Gadot)

The rise of Early Israel is currently viewed as a process within the wider framework of the history of the Land of Israel. A meaningful understanding of Iron Age Israel demands, therefore, familiarity with the history of the land in earlier periods. The seminar will deal with the archaeology of Canaan during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. This period saw the flourishing and decline of Canaanite culture as well as the growth and collapse of the Egyptian empire that ruled the country - the very processes that led to the birth of ancient Israel.

Each seminar meets for four hours per week, for a total of 8 credits.
Participants will present one long research paper for each seminar.
Other graduate seminars in the Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations that are outside the program are open to the students but as they are given in Hebrew, a knowledge of the language is required.

Field Tours

Four one-day field tours to main archaeological sites from the biblical period all over Israel, for a total of 3 credits (the tours will be guided by Dr. Yuval Gadot).
  • Royal cities of the Israelite kingdom: Megiddo, Hazor and Dan.
    A thorough study of three main centers of the Northern Kingdom and the implications of their finds for biblical history.
  • The capital of Judah: new discoveries in Jerusalem
    What can archaeology teach us about the City of David, the expansion of Jerusalem in late-monarchic times, and the history of the kingdom of Judah?
  • On the Philistine border: Tel Beth-Shemesh, Ekron-Tel Miqne and Gath-Tell es-Safi
    A visit to the border between Philistines and Israelites - an intriguing archaeological picture of cultural and political processes at a confrontation line.
  • Fortresses and temples in the Negev of Judah: Tel Beer-Sheba and Arad.
    The story of Beer-sheba valley - settlers, nomads, and foreign powers at the periphery of the kingdom of Judah.
Participants will have to present one short paper for each tour.

Summer Excavations

The program offers the unique experience of taking active part in one of the excavation projects conducted at major archaeological sites by the Institute of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, for 3 credits.
Participants in the program will be permitted to take part in the excavations at: There is an option to take part in the credit program conducted in each of the excavations and get up to 6 more credits. For more details see the expeditions' web sites.

Modern Hebrew Studies

The program gives the opportunity to acquire a sound knowledge of the Hebrew language. An Intensive Hebrew Language Program (Ulpan) by the School for Overseas Students at Tel Aviv University is offered prior to the Spring Semester, taught at all levels.
Hebrew examination 15.1.2008
Intensive Hebrew studies (6 credits) 20.1 - 14.2.2008
Hebrew studies (during the semester, 3 credits) 17.2-6.6.2008
Summer studies (6 credits) 3.8-19.9.2008

Overseas Student Program Courses

Participants in the program will be permitted to attend 2 additional courses in the Overseas Student Program. For course description see the web site of The School of Overseas Students, Tel Aviv University.


The program starts at 14.1.08

Admission Procedures and Fees

For application and admission requirements, admission procedures and fees see details at the web site of
The School of Overseas Students, Tel Aviv University.
For administrative inquiries please contact the School of Overseas Students, Tel Aviv University.
For academic issues please contact Prof. Shlomo Bunimovitz, Chair, Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures, Tel Aviv University.

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