The site of Caesarea Maritima, on Israel’s northern coast, is one of the largest archaeological sites in the country. It was founded as a Hellenistic anchorage settlement and developed into a significant and elaborate Roman city with a manmade harbor under Herod the Great in 22-10 B.C.E. From then through the Byzantine period, it was the capital of the province of Palestine, and larger than Jerusalem. Archaeological projects from numerous consortia groups have been conducted for the last 50 years, uncovering significant parts of the central city, the harbor, the Augustan Roman temple, the Byzantine octagonal church, and the Crusader church and city walls. However, little is known of the city during the Early Islamic period. Debates over the nature of the Levantine coast from the seventh-tenth centuries characterize it either as a depopulated no-man’s land frontier with the Byzantine-controlled Mediterranean or interspersed with key settlements actively engaged in trade and exchange. According to Islamic sources, Caesarea (Arabic: Qaysāriya), was a ribāṭ, a type of site that similarly either functioned as a military-religious lookout station or commercial waystation.
The renewed excavations of the city will seek to investigate and answer these questions, searching for the Early Islamic occupation of the city and what it reveals on the nature of how classical cities transformed in the Early Islamic period and the larger regional Levantine coast in the early Medieval period. It will also examine the nature of Caesarea’s last settlement as a small Bosnian community in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Our excavation will shed new light on the cultural layering and evolution of the city from the classical epoch to the Islamic era.
Volunteers will live near the site and engage in the daily tasks of excavation, learning hands-on techniques in stratigraphic excavation, artifact recovery, and drawing sections. They will work under square and area supervisors who will be doctoral students in archaeology from other universities. Over the four weeks in the field, volunteers will learn how to record excavations, how to excavate using heavy (picks and shovels) and light (trowels and handpicks) equipment, how to measure and draw daily site plans, how to recognize and sort artifacts, how to use a dumpy level instrument to obtain exact elevations, and how to draw excavation trench sections and interpret stratigraphy – the key to understanding archaeological methodology. In the early evening, volunteers will wash and sort pottery and bone, sort other artifact categories for restoration and conservation (such as glass and metal), learn how to group and identify ceramics and process them qualitatively for later analysis, and learn how to draw ceramic vessels from recovered sherds. Volunteers will also be able to work with staff and learn digital modeling and mapping skills from Total Station surveying and 3D modeling. The study abroad program will be about 40 hours a week of excavation and material culture processing. Volunteers will excavate from Sunday to Thursday (five days a week), working from 6am-12pm on-site and 5-7pm at the camp. There will be two lectures a week after dinner on the archaeology and history of the surrounding region in the classical through modern periods.
Northern Coastal Plain, Israel
May 22 - June 18, 2022
February 28, 2022
6 Credits are offered by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Price is included in fees
A. Asa Eger: University of North Carolina Greensboro
Andrea De Giorgi: Florida State University
Beverly Goodman: University of Haifa