Excavating Tel Lachish, Israel
6 credits in Religious Studies, Anthropology, or International Studies
7 July – 30 July 2017
$2,600 + airfare + applicable VCU tuition. Find full details on the Budget Sheet!
1 April 2017
The Global Education Office and the School of World Studies, in collaboration with the Lachish Archaeology Project, are pleased to offer a unique field school opportunity just outside of Jerusalem, Israel. Students explore firsthand the history of the period of the first kings of ancient Israel and the Judean Kingdom (1000-500 BCE) through field archaeology, lab work, supplemental classroom lectures and tours. VCU students will join a consortium of several university sponsored teams all directed by Dr. Yossi Garfinkle of Hebrew University. Teams from VCU have worked with Dr. Garfinkle at Khirbet Qeiyafa, Israel for five years from 2009-2013 and most recently at Tell Lachish from 2014-2016 and look forward to contributing to the continued success of the fourth expedition.
The 22 acre mound, or Tell, of Lachish lies approximately 40 miles southwest of Jerusalem in the low hills of ancient Judea and is one of the most historically notorious sites in Israel. Its stratified layers reveal occupation from the early Neolithic period, through the Bronze Age, well into modern times. It has been excavated by several teams, but has yet to yield all of its secrets, especially in terms of the Iron Age II (1000-800 BCE), the period of the first kings of ancient Israel and the Judean Kingdom.
Please note that there is a current US State Department Travel Warning for Israel
Course and credit options
All students will enroll in RELS 491: Topics: Excavation Tel Lachish, Israel (3 credits), and then select among the following for a total of 6 credits:
- RELS 391: Topics: Biblical Archaeology Abroad (3 credits)
- ANTH 398: Field Investigation in Anthropology (3 credits)
- INTL 398: Directed Study Abroad (3 credits)
The Education Abroad office will enroll students in the course upon receipt of the registration.
This course is a field methods class that combines historical research with archaeological inquiry. Students will be shown the methods and tools of archaeological investigation and be given the opportunity to put these skills into immediate practice. It further requires students to collaborate and work together as a team while they contribute to the success of an ongoing archaeological research project to Lachish, Israel. Specifically, students will collect, analyze and process the material cultural remains of several different cultural horizons while conducting an archaeological investigation at Lachish. There will be 8 hours per day of field work, 2 hours of lab work, and a final lecture presentation. Students can expect to spend 10 hours a day committed to excavation responsibilities. Two weekends will be spent on guided educational tours throughout Israel.
Students must have at least a 2.0 GPA in order to participate and must be prepared for the intellectual and physical demands of working and traveling in the arid environment of Israel.
All participants will be required fill out an application with the Lachish Archaeological Project through Hebrew University in addition to the one completed through the Global Education Office. A $50.00 non-refundable deposit is required. The program director will send all students the Hebrew University application after they have been accepted to the program through VCU.
An academic letter of reference is not required; however, students may be interviewed by Professor Waybright prior to acceptance into the program. This program is open to non-VCU students.
Accommodations and meals
Participants will stay at the Kibbutz Sde Yoav, Sunday through Thursday. The kibbutz is 20-25 miles away from the dig site and close to the Mediterranean city of Ashkelon. Participants will be bused daily to and from the excavation site and will take all meals will be provided by the Kibbuttz.
Weekend heritage tours will often require overnight stays in Jerusalem. While housing is included, meals during the weekend are not. Students will be exposed to a variety of cultures since Palestinian, Ethiopian, Russian, and other cultural groups are well represented in modern Israel’s eclectic makeup. Thus while conducting archaeological and historical research into past cultures, students will also benefit from working and interacting within a modern Middle Eastern cultural climate. Although the English language is wide spread, students will find it useful but not necessary to know some Hebrew and Arabic, the two national languages.
This program will be directed by Professor Jonathan Waybright of the VCU Religious Studies program. He has worked on archaeological excavations as a professional staff member in Israel since 1988 and has brought over 100 students, often in large groups, during that time to excavate and earn field school credit.
A valid passport is required to leave the US. If a student does not already have a passport, they are advised to begin the application process as soon as they are accepted into the program. The processing time for new passport applicants can be as long as 8 weeks. For students who already have passports, they will need to verify that the passport’s validity dates extend 6 months past their return date. For more information about passports and the application/renewal process, please consult the State Department's website
Payment of fees
In order to complete the application, students are required to submit a $250 registration fee and deposit. This $250 registration fee and deposit is refundable in two cases: if the program is cancelled, or if a student is rejected by the faculty member based on their qualifications to participate in the program. Reasons for rejection could include, but are not limited to, GPA, lack of a pre-requisite, unacceptable or inappropriate statement of interest, etc. and are at the discretion of the faculty program director. However, if a student pays the fee and is not given final acceptance to the program based on failing to complete application requirements, as determined by the Education Abroad office or faculty director, the $250 is non-refundable.
Students will receive two separate charges to their student accounts for this program: one charge will reflect the balance of the program fee (minus the $250 deposit and application fee) and the other charge is for VCU tuition costs (based on the number and type of credits being taken by the student). These bills will be charged through VCU Student Accounting and should appear by May 2017.
Please note: While these charges may post to the student’s account simultaneously or separately, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure the account balance is paid before the billing due date.
Withdrawal procedures and financial commitment policy
All withdrawals must be made formally in writing and submitted to the Director of Education Abroad. Otherwise, the program fee will not be refunded. After committing to the program, students deciding to withdraw will be held accountable for a portion of or the entire program fee based on the following schedule:
- Formal withdrawal submitted later than 30 days before the first day of the program abroad: 100% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 30-60 days before the first day of the program abroad: 75% of the program fee will be charged
- Formal withdrawal submitted within 60-90 days before the first day of the program abroad: 50% of the program fee will be charged
In the event an unexpected emergency occurs within 30 days before the first day of the program abroad, students must provide a physician’s certification that his/her condition prohibits participation. In this case, refunds will be limited to only those funds VCU is able to recover or that have not already been spent on behalf of the student.
See above for refund policy on $250 registration fee and deposit.
Students should schedule an appointment with their physician or at a travel clinic (such as VCU Student Health) at least 4 to 8 weeks before the program to inquire about recommended and/or required vaccines/immunizations. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all routine and travel immunizations are up-to-date.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on recommended and required immunizations for travelers. To view the health risks and requirements for the country to which you will be traveling, please visit the CDC's website
Health Alert: Zika Virus
The CDC has issued a travel alert for countries where the Zika virus is prevalent. Check the CDC’s travel notices
regularly as new countries are being added to this list. Check VCU Student Health
to stay updated as well.
VCU Student Health offers in-depth pre-travel consultation with a health care provider as well as most of the vaccines recommended for safe travel. Prescriptions for recommended medicines are also available. Please visit their website
for full details.
Every effort is made to provide updated and accurate information at the time of publication. The sponsors reserve the right to make necessary changes to the programs and costs. The university reserves the right to revise or alter all fees, regulations pertaining to student fees, and fee collection procedures at any time