Khirbet el-Mastarah


Investigating the Earliest Israelites

Are you obsessed with the Book of Joshua and the question of early Israelite origins? Are the terms “conquest model,” “peaceful infiltration model,” and “peasants’ revolt model” part of your everyday vocabulary? Do you lie awake at night wondering how the earliest Israelites really originated in the ancient land of Canaan? If so, then you should definitely volunteer to work on the pioneering new excavation at Khirbet el-Mastarah, located just west of the Jordan River in what may have been the area of the earliest Israelite settlement.

This intriguing site, located in the Jordan Valley, 6 miles north of Jericho, is one of the important “complex enclosures” discovered by Adam Zertal in his survey of the region. This site is fairly large and includes a number of houses, animal pens, hints of walls and numerous cairns, and is dated to the time of the first settlement of the Tribes of Israel, as described in the Book of Joshua. The location of the site is unusual, however, in that it is situated on a knoll in the fork of a wadi and surrounded by hills on three sides, completely hidden from its surroundings.


How does a dig team work? What do archaeologists look for at a dig? In this documentary DVD, learn how excavators work and what we can learn from archaeology. Learn more >>


Geographic Location

5 miles north of Jericho

Periods of Occupation

Iron Age I – II


David Ben-Shlomo

Dr. David Ben-Shlomo is Codirector of the Khirbet el-Mastarah excavation project. He serves as an associate professor of archaeology at Ariel University. He is coeditor of Judea and Samaria Research Studies.

Ralph Hawkins

Dr. Ralph Hawkins is Codirector of the Khirbet el-Mastarah excavation project. He serves as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Averett University, in Danville, Virginia, where he is also an associate professor of Hebrew Bible and archaeology.


Dr. David Ben-Shlomo
Israel Heritage Department
Ariel 40700
Phone: 00972547451567
Email: [email protected]

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