Tell Abu Shusha

July 26 — August 13, 2020

Dig King Herod’s Ancient City

Tell Abu Shusha is the name given to a mysterious hill by the Ottoman era villagers who lived on its summit. It is located in the Jezreel Valley, about 25 miles southeast of Haifa. Tantalizing historical and archaeological clues suggest that buried within are the remains of ancient Gaba Hippeon, a city founded by King Herod as a base for his cavalry forces. This garrison guarded the northern borders of Herod’s kingdom from the Phoenicians and secured one of the most important trade routes across the Levant, the Via Maris. In Herod’s day, part of this “Way of the Sea” helped connect the pagan Decapolis cities such as Beth Shean, Gadara, and Hippos to the massive port of Caesarea and from there into the Roman world. Gaba Hippeon was established to secure this lucrative trade network. The site has been only minimally excavated over the years, and never has the tell itself been excavated.

In our inaugural season in summer 2020, we will focus our work on a few key areas of the tell. Our main objective is to get a sense of the site stratigraphy and architectural remains. Particularly intriguing are clues that Tell Abu Shusha was a site of worship of the Philistine god Dagon, as late as the Roman period, and that the Phrygian lunar god Men was revered there as well. We will be staying at Kibbutz Mishmar Ha-Emeq, which is a short walk from the site.


Geographic Location

Jezreel Valley, 60 miles northeast of Tel Aviv

Periods of Occupation

Hellenistic Period, Roman Period, Byzantine Period

Dates of the Dig

July 26 — August 13, 2020

Minimum Stay

One week

Application Due

Friday, May 29, 2020

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Yes; 3–6 credits; $600 per 3 credits; awarded by University of Hawai‘i


$600 per week


Avner Ecker

Bar Ilan University

Ben Gordon

University of Pittsburgh


Dr. Ben Gordon

2601 Cathedral of Learning

4200 Fifth Ave

Pittsburgh, PA 15260</ br>

United States

Email: Dr. Ben Gordon at [email protected]