Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

Individual and team projects currently underway by the JVRP, affiliated staff, undergraduate researchers, and collaborators

JVRP Advanced Physical Survey of the Jezreel Valley

Principal Investigators: Matthew J. Adams, Yotam Tepper, and Robert Homsher

Engaging Valley's past requires a basic physical and temporal description of known human activity in the region. The traditional method for establishing this dataset is walkover observational survey during which extant elements of human activity are identified. Dating is usually done on the basis of chronologically diagnostic ceramic material at the locus, and the extent of activity determined by the sprawl of this ceramic material. This traditional methodology has been long known to have flaws, but was recently dealt a hard blow in the Jezreel Valley by the pilot season of the JVRP (2010), which established that the results of these types of surveys can have no bearing on the actual subsurface remains (Adams, David, Homsher forthcoming). The only way to temporally assess the locus of human activity is through physical archaeological excavation. The goal of the Advanced Physical Survey is to survey (with sample excavation) all unexcavated sites in the Valley, in order to create a comprehensive dataset of loci of human activity.

Legio: Castra of the Roman VIth Ferrata Legion

Principal Investigators:

Yotam Tepper - The IAA & Tel Aviv University

Jonathan David - Gettysburg College

Matthew J. Adams - W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research


The Megiddo Expedition

Principal Investigators: Israel Finkelstein, Matthew J. Adams, Mario Martin

Megiddo is the jewel in the crown of biblical archaeology. Strategically perched above the most important land route in the ancient Near East, the city dominated international traffic for over 6,000 years — from ca. 7,000 B.C.E. through to biblical times. As civilizations came and went, succeeding settlements at ancient Megiddo were built on the ruins of their predecessors, creating a multi-layered archaeological legacy that abounds in unparalleled treasures that include monumental temples, lavish palaces, mighty fortifications, and remarkably-engineered water systems.

Jezreel Valley Human Environments Project

Principal Investigator: Robert Homsher

This study investigates human-environmental dynamics in the Jezreel Valley and greater region during the Holocene and Anthropocene epochs, and relies on paleo-climate and -environment proxy data to do so. This research addresses the limitations of data and methods for environmental reconstruction, emphasizing the human scale of time and space, and reassessing environmental patterns based on comprehensive survey of existing data. New primary data are collected in conjunction with the JVRP Advanced Physical Survey and ongoing sediment core extraction, archaeological excavation, and laboratory analyses (e.g., geomorphology, sedimentology, geochemistry, palynology, isotope studies) in collaboration with several specialists. One of our primary objectives is collecting intensive data about geology, geomorphology, and modern land-use practices that complement our archaeological dataset, which includes material from the Middle Paleolithic through the twentieth century. Samples from this particular landscape will fill a lacuna in geographic distribution of present environmental data, as well as promote finer chronological sampling than typically undertaken for environmental reconstructions. Furthermore, the combined archaeological and environmental data are interpreted through theoretical approaches of social resilience, vulnerability, and diversity in relation to human ecology.

Geospatial Analysis of the Jezreel Valley

Principal Investigators: Robert Homsher, Adam Prins, Ryan Gardner-Cook

Using the latest techniques for geospatial documentation, this long-term initiative is deeply integrated into the overall project's workflow and methodological aims. This work integrates GIS with innovative methods for spatial data collection and analysis at the scale from survey and excavation to objects and archaeometry. Spatial datasets derive from Structure from Motion techniques (see Prins 2016, WPAT) in order to create precise, high resolution 3D models, orthophotos, and terrain models from aerial and terrestrial imagery. We strive for fully georeferenced data, for example, implementing real-time path vectorization during pedestrian survey and orthophoto-based plans in excavation. The resulting data from these methods form the basis for all our visual and spatial analysis, and have an incredible impact on the project's precision and efficiency in and out of the field.

The Jezreel Valley in the Early Bronze Age: A Lidar-informed Study of an Archaeological Landscape

Principal Investigator: Adam Prins - Durham University

This project applies LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to the study of the Early Bronze Age Jezreel Valley. Under the framework of landscape archaeology, this research will reconstruct the Early Bronze Age landscape and explore evidence of ancient settlement. It represents the most comprehensive application to date of this technology to the region.

Tel Megiddo East

The Early Bronze Age Settlement of Megiddo

Principal Investigators:

Matthew J. Adams - W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research

Robert Homsher - W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research

Excavations by the Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition from 1992 to 2010 discovered the monumental Great Temple of the Early Bronze Age I. The massive 1100 sq. m. broad-room-style temple has proven to me themost monumental single edifice so far uncovered in the EB I Levant and ranks among the largest structures of its time in the Near East. The magnificent temple is now well-known but the larger urban landscape, the home of its builders, has never been explored. Since 2010, the JVRP has been excavating the site of Tel Megiddo East in an effort to elucidate the society responsible for the construction of the Great Temple.

Funerary Landscapes of the

Jezreel Valley

Principal Investigator: Melissa S. Cradic

This project investigates funerary landscapes of the Jezreel Valley in order to construct a complete funerary history of the valley from the earliest known burials through the modern period. Special attention will be devoted to locating and examining burial sites that are not closely associated with tells or other major settlements. Where and how were communities burying their dead? What differences in burial practices can be identified from synchronic and diachronic perspectives? How do these locations and practices relate to wider contemporaneous and longue durée land-use patterns? The project's primary methodologies include: (1) pedestrian, aerial, and intensive survey; (2) archival research; and (3) GIS-aided spatial analysis. This long-term, multiscalar study will coincide with the JVRP's ongoing survey, excavation, and research projects.

Ancient Land-Use Management in the Jezreel Valley

Principal Investigator: Melissa S. Rosenzweig - University of Chicago

This environmental study is designed to provide information on the crop packages utilized by occupants of the Jezreel Valley across time and space, as well as generate information on the range of environmental mosaics that communities relied upon for their agrarian economies.  Macro- and microbotanical material collected from JVRP excavations are analyzed for the presence of plant remains that index agricultural resources and practices.  The diachronic transformations revealed by this study track human land-use management, environmental restoration and degradation, and the impact of socio-political dynamics on human-environment interactions.



Digital Archive Initiative

Principal Investigators: Matthew J. Adams, Jonathan David, and Margaret E. Cohen

The long-term goal of the Digital Archive Initiative of the JVRP is to support regional-scale historical and archaeological research by providing and maintaining a repository of data concerning the Jezreel Valley. This is the function of the left link-bar of this website. This project is currently undergoing a proof-of-concept phase in which we are experimenting with display, content, accessibility, and data storage. The entries which currently exist are meant to be samples.

Survey and Excavations near Tel Megiddo

A Village, a Military Camp and a City in the Legio Region

Excavations at

Kefar ‘Othnay

Principal Investigator: Yotam Tepper - The IAA & Tel Aviv University

From 2003-2008, the investigator carried out excavations at large settlement of Kefar 'Othnay (Legio) on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority. In the western part of the modern Megiddo Prison compound a large structure identified as a Christian prayer hall was exposed. The 3rd-century building contained a mosaic floor with 3 dedicatory inscriptions. One of these texts identifies the benefactor as a Roman centurion named Gaianus. This connection between a Roman army officer and Christianity in a prayer hall is an extraordinarily unique find. The discovery predates the imperial recognition of Christianity as a legal religion and therefore contributes to our understanding of Christianity during this early period. Additionally, the findings are important to the study of the Roman army in the eastern empire, and shed light on a Christian community alongside a mixed Jewish-Samaritan settlement.

Sacred and Profane Fauna at Early Bronze I Megiddo

Principal Investigators:

Lidar Sapir-Hen, Tel Aviv University

Deirdre Fulton, Baylor University

Matthew J. Adams, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research

Israel Finkelstein, Tel Aviv University

This collaborative project between the Tel Aviv University Megiddo Expedition and the JVRP seeks to compare the sacrificial faunal assemblage from the Great Temple with the faunal assemblage from the adjacent settlement. (more coming soon)

The Early Bronze Age in the Jezreel Valley

Principal Investigator: Matthew J. Adams - W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research

This project focuses on the correlation of excavated Early Bronze Age stratigraphy at sites in the Jezreel Valley. Using the Tel Aviv University excavations at Tel Megiddo as the chronological anchor, this project seeks to correlate all stratigraphy from excavated Early Bronze Age sites in the Jezreel Valley.

Jezreel Valley

in the Bible

Principal Investigator: Margaret E. Cohen - Pennsylvania State University

This project investigates the portrayal of the Jezreel Valley in the biblical text, and discusses both the image of the Valley as a defined geographical space as well as individual toponyms located within it. The development of the symbolic role that the terms "Jezreel" and "Jezreel Valley" acquire in the Latter Prophets is also explored.

JVRP Student Research Program

The JVRP Student Research Program is a research mentoring program for both undergraduate and graduate students. Student's propose their own research projects and are given access to the JVRP resources and data. The projects are guided by members of the JVRP Research Team, often in collaboration with an adviser from their home institution. Completed projects are reviewed by committee and, if accepted, published here on the website or in a print venue, including the JVRP's monograph series if appropriate. For a list of current research projects and information for submitting proposals, see our Student Research Program page.


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All essays appearing on this website are authored by members of the JVRP.

Authorship credit is given where appropriate, as is credit for revisions and additions.

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