Mt. Zion

June 22 – July 5, 2019

Excavate Historic Jerusalem

Have you ever dreamed of excavating within sight of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, just minutes away from more than 3,000 years of fabled history and lore? If so, you might want to volunteer to work on the new Mount Zion excavations in Jerusalem, taking place just outside the Ottoman-era walls of the Old City.

Two thousand years ago, the area of the Mount Zion excavations was well within the city walls of Jerusalem and bustling with activity. The area was situated at the end of the city’s great main street, the cardo maximus, and recent excavations here have revealed the incredibly well preserved houses of some of Jerusalem’s wealthiest families of the first century C.E. Fortunately for archaeologists, the construction of the massive Nea Church during the Byzantine period required much of the Mount Zion area to be artificially raised and leveled, meaning that many of these first century houses were safely preserved beneath construction fill.

This summer, you can help dig directors Shimon Gibson and James Tabor uncover the remains of these Roman-era houses, many with their painted walls and high vaulted ceilings still intact. In addition, excavate what appears to be a Byzantine period building along with a new area with early Islamic levels in the western portion 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

Central Jerusalem/Old City

Periods of Occupation

Early Roman to Ottoman

Dates of the Dig

June 22 – July 5, 2019

Minimum Stay

Two weeks

Application Due

March 1, 2019. Space limited so we have a rolling admission policy beginning November 1, 2018.

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

6 hours, undergraduate or graduate, to UNC Charlotte students or those at an accredited US university or college only. Most come as non-credit participants. Tuition is included as part of the study abroad program costs for UNC Charlotte Study Abroad. Credits awarded by the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Contact Dr. McEachnie for general information on the study abroad credit option: [email protected].


Participants are encouraged to stay at the Knight’s Palace in the Old City of Jerusalem where we get special group rates. Booking is the responsibility of each registrant; however, our booking code for a reduced “dig rate” is available. Singles, doubles, and triples can be arranged.

Open For Tours

Yes - by appointment


Participants pay a $500 dig fee for the two-week session; returning participants with previous experience pay $400. Contact Suzanne Johnson, our registrar, at [email protected] for further information and our application form.


Shimon Gibson

British archaeologist Shimon Gibson is the co-director of the Mt. Zion dig. He is a Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeology, director of archaeology at the University of the Holy Land, and an adjunct Professor at UNC Charlotte. Dr. Gibson has excavated dozens of sites in Israel and Palestine including the “John the Baptist” cave at Suba, Tell el-Ful as well as Mt Zion. His latest book is The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence (HarperOne, 2009).

James D. Tabor

James D. Tabor is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he has taught since 1989. He is a historian of ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity. He has excavated at Sepphoris, Suba, and Mt Zion. His most recent books are The Jesus Discovery, with co-author Simcha Jacobovici (Simon & Schuster 2012) on the Talpiot “Jesus” tombs, and Paul and Jesus: How the Apostles Transformed Christianity (Simon & Schuster, 2012).

Rafi Lewis

Rafi Lewis, University of Haifa (Post-Doc)

Robert McEachnie

Robert McEachnie, Department of History, UNC Charlotte


Non-credit applicants: Contact Suzanne Johnson, our registrar, at [email protected] for further information and our application form.

Credit applicants: Contact Robert McEachnie, Director of Mt. Zion Study Abroad Program, UNC Charlotte, [email protected].