Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa

February 9-20, 2020

Biblical Ataroth, an Administrative Center

One of the most vexing issues in Biblical archaeology today has to do with the nature and extent of the early Kingdom of Judah—or the “United Kingdom” of Israel—and the days of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. Was it a kingdom at all? Did it have a centralized administration or government? Were there fortified cities associated with it? The discovery and excavation of Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Elah Valley, was the earliest fortified city uncovered in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah that dates to the period of Kings Saul and David. To the east, in the southern Jordan Valley, another such site is Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa, a fortified town located on a prominent hill controlling the ‘Auja spring and overlooking the Jericho Valley.

The survey of Manasseh has already shown that this is a fortified site that dates to the Iron Age II (1000–586 B.C.E.) and that it has at least two phases of occupation, with structures standing up to 2 m high. It contains dozens of structures and is encircled by a casemate wall. It may be identified with the site of Ataroth, mentioned in the description of the Manasseh-Ephraim boundary in Joshua 16:5, and may have served as a regional administrative center for the Kingdom of Judah.

Join dig directors David Ben-Shlomo and Ralph Hawkins in this exciting project to investigate the site, its date, and its material culture, as well as the question of whether it may be linked to the Israelite settlement of the region in Biblical times.

In February of 2020, we will return to ʿAuja el-Foqa for a brief winter season of two weeks. Join JVEP as a volunteer on this pioneering excavation and experience Israel like never before!


Geographic Location

2 km west of Yitav

Periods of Occupation

Iron Age II

Dates of the Dig

February 9-20, 2020

Minimum Stay

February 9-20, 2020

Application Due

December 30, 2019


While digging, we will be staying at the “Orchan Rosemary” (https://www.rosemaryscabins.com/english), which is a “country” B & B located in Moshav Fasael, in the Jordan Valley. It is equipped with a kitchenette, air conditioning, Cable TV, and Barbecue facilities. It has a beautiful panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, and is located only an hour from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Beit Shean, and a half hour from the Dead Sea. Ariel University will pay the cost of rooming at the Orchan Rosemary. There will be collection of $50.00 per week for food. Airfare is not included.

Open For Tours



$50/week for food. Ariel University will pay the cost of rooming at the Orchan Rosemary.


David Ben-Shlomo

David Ben-Shlomo is co-director of the Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa excavation project. He serves as an associate professor of archaeology at Ariel University. He is co-editor of Judea and Samaria Research Studies.

Ralph Hawkins

Ralph Hawkins is co-director of the Khirbet ‘Auja el-Foqa excavation project. He serves as Director of the Program in Religion at Averett University in Danville, Virginia, where he is also Professor of Biblical and Archaeological Studies.


Dr. Ralph Hawkins
Averett University
420 West Main St.
Danville, VA 24541
Phone: (434) 773-3995
[email protected]