August 4 – 30, 2019

Excavating “the Town of Baal”

The site of Biblical Kiriath-Jearim near Jerusalem is one of the last large Biblical mounds in Israel still not excavated. It is located in a commanding position, with sweeping views all the way to the Mediterranean in the west and the skyline of Jerusalem in the east.

Kiriath-Jearim is mentioned in a large number of Biblical texts, among them as a place where the Ark of the Covenant was stationed for 20 years after returning from captivity with the Philistines and before being taken by King David to Jerusalem; the border between the territories of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; and as a place where returnees from Babylon settled. Especially interesting is the strong polemic against this place, described in certain verses as “the town of Baal,” possibly hinting for having a temple contemporary to the Temple in Jerusalem. The goal of the first season will be to decipher the settlement history of the site and seek evidence for cultic activity in the Iron Age.

The excavations at Kiriath-Jearim are directed by leading scholars in both the fields of archaeology and Biblical studies, and this will provide our participants with a rare opportunity to engage directly with both disciplines through field work, lectures and casual discussion. An amazing opportunity especially for undergraduate and graduate students pursuing work at the intersection of these disciplines!

The site of the Monastery of the Ark of the Covenant (Notre Dame de l’Arche d’Alliance), is an enchanting place with spectacular views and beautiful, relaxing gardens and grounds. Because of the elevation and landscape the weather is quite comfortable even in summer. It is in this charming setting that we hope to solve many archaeological riddles regarding the strong Biblical associations of the site.


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

10 km west of Jerusalem

Periods of Occupation

Mainly Iron Age

Dates of the Dig

August 4 – 30, 2019

Minimum Stay

One week

Application Due

April 15, 2019

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

$450/3 credits; awarded by Tel Aviv University


Guesthouse and retreat center of the Monastery of the Ark of the Covenant. Two people per room; air-conditioned; en-suite bathrooms; WiFi. Three meals a day during work week; meal options available during free weekends. See website for additional information.

Open For Tours

Yes — by appointment


$550/week for room and board


Israel Finkelstein

Dr. Israel Finkelstein is the Jacob M. Alkow Professor of the Archaeology of Israel in the Bronze Age and Iron Ages at Tel Aviv University and is the Director of excavations at Megiddo.

Christophe Nicolle

Christophe Nicolle is a researcher at the Collège de France.

Thomas Römer

Thomas Römer is a professor and vice-administrator at the Collège de France.


Dr. Margaret Cohen
26 Salah ed-Din Street
PO Box 19096
Jerusalem, Israel 9119002
Phone: 814-880-7171
Email: [email protected]