Jezreel Valley Regional Project Archaeology and History of a Regional Landscape

Educational Program


Legio Field School Introduction

This 5-week (3-credit) field school, directed and organized by Melissa Cradic, introduces the student to methods and techniques of field archaeology through Lecture Presentations, Field & Lab Tutorials, Field Trip, and hands-on experience as they participate in primary archaeological research at the Castra of the Roman VIth Ferrata Legion at Legio in the Jezreel Valley, Israel. This course offers students the chance to experience the full range of activities associated with field research including hypothesis formulation and testing, project design, methods for collecting and recording archaeological data, laboratory analysis of artifacts and ecofacts, and the role of context in interpretation. Additionally, students will participate in field trips and lectures that will place Legio in the broader context of the Bronze Age to Medieval Near East.

The 6-credit advanced techniques option encompasses all of the activities of the 3-credit field school with added advanced instruction and hands-on experience with additional field and laboratory techniques and technologies including GIS, AutoCAD, 3D-imaging, advanced surveying, orthophotography, archaeozoological identification, and advanced technical drawing. Additionally, 6-credit students participate in advanced lectures and tutorials on report writing, publication standards, archaeological theory, and historical and cultural interpretation.

Overall, the primary goal of the program is to provide team members with an accessible, working knowledge of the fundamentals of archaeological field work, the historical context of the current excavation setting, and an understanding of the contributions of archaeology in general, and this expedition in particular, to our knowledge of the human past.

At the end of the course, students will have working knowledge of key concepts, procedures, and analyses related to archaeological field work, preparing them for further field and laboratory work and a solid foundation for additional advanced-level training.

Core teaching staff

The JVRP is staffed by well-experienced archaeologists and specialists, all of whom participate in the educational program supervising students, advising, and leading tutorials and specialized lectures. Students are under the immediate supervision of the Director and three supervisors. The typical student : supervisor ratio is 3-4:1 for enrolled students. Considering the 6 additional staff members who provide individual instruction, lectures, and tutorials throughout the season, the effective ratio is closer to 2-3:1. For advanced lessons in the 6-credit option, many lessons and tutorials are conducted on a 1:1 basis for maximum effectiveness.

Melissa Cradic, Educational Program Director (University of California, Berkeley, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Dr. Robert S. Homsher (Harvard University, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Dr. Matthew J. Adams (University of Hawai’i, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Adam B. Prins (Durham University, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Dr. Jonathan David (Gettysburg College)

Dr. Margaret E. Cohen (W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research)

Dr. Rangar Cline (University of Oklahoma)

Dr. Yotam Tepper (Tel Aviv University)

Dr. Deirdre Fulton (Baylor University)

Learning Outcomes

Course Topics

Course topics are divided among four units accomplished through four types of instruction:

1. Archaeological Principles

2. Field Skills

3. Laboratory Skills

4. Culture History

Lecture Presentations (LP) are 1 to 1.5 hour illustrated presentations of archaeological and historical material. Some lectures have a hands-on workshop component where the students are invited to handle material and practice analysis. Lectures are taught by the instructor and director of the project and the core staff of the excavation as well as other specialists who work with the project. Guest lectures are delivered by prominent local archaeologists working in Israel. These lectures are meant to be case studies in archaeology highlighting a variety of problems, methods, and interpretations. Lecturers are asked to make note of particular methods and techniques deployed to address specific research questions.

Field Tutorials (FT) are 30 minute to 1 hour demonstrations of field techniques and practices. These tutorials take place during the field during work hours. Techniques and practices learned in these tutorials are reinforced and practiced repeatedly throughout the following work periods. Field Tutorials are taught by the project staff according to their particular specialties. In the advanced 6-credit course, students are able to choose particular skills to specialize in and practice under the instruction of a specialist.

Lab Tutorials (LT) are 1 to 2 hour demonstrations of laboratory techniques and practices. Each tutorial includes a hands-on practicum in which students perform the activity. Students have additional opportunities throughout the course to continue to practice laboratory techniques. In the advanced 6-credit course, students are able to choose particular skills to specialize in and practice under the instruction of a specialist.

Field Trips (Trip) are visits to sites in northern Israel. Each trip is preceded by an overview lecture of the site that gives a chronological, cultural, and stratigraphical overview of the site. Trips include a guided tour of the site with an emphasis on archaeological method, interpretation, cultural heritage, and site conservation. Students will see examples of archaeological concepts, such as stratigraphy, in action. Additionally, students will engage in discussions about how these sites are presented to the public and how they are managed as cultural resources. Field Trips are led by and accompanying lectures are given by project core staff and/or the archaeologists currently working at a given site.

Visit our Introductory Tour Details page for information on the preseason tour of sites in Northern Israel.

Preseason Tour

Course Outline and Topics Covered: 3 Credits

The following topics are covered in the 3-credit program (click the headings for more)


  • Archaeological Principles

    Nature and Aims of Archaeology (LP)

    Site Formation (LP, Trip)

    Research Design (LP)

    Practicalities of Conducting Excavation (LP, Trip)

    Evidence and Interpretation (LP)

    Archaeology and History Writing (LP)

    Archaeology, Conservation, and the Public (Trip)

    Geoarchaeology (LP)

  • Laboratory Skills

    Ceramic Typology and Recording (LT)

    Methods for Relative dating and seriation (LP, LT)

    Human Osteological Analysis (LT, FT)

    Zooarchaeological Analysis (LT)

    Paleobotanical Analysis (LT)

    Field and Artifact Photography (LT, FT)

    Artifact Recording and Curating (LT)

  • Field Skills

    Field Safety (LP and FT)

    Excavation Tools and Techniques (FT)

    Field Recording and Registration (LP and FT)

    Principals of Stratigraphy (LP, FT)

    Architecture: Phasing and Interpretation (LP, FT)

    Object Recovery (FT)

    Total Station Mapping and Recording (FT)

    Planning and Horizontal Control of Data (FT)

    Section Drawing and Vertical Control of Data (FT)

    Archaeological Report Writing (FT)

  • Culture History

    Historical Overview of the Southern Levant (LP, Trip)

    Archaeology and History of the Bronze Age Levant (LP, Trip)

    Tel Megiddo Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Tel Dan Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Baniyas Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Hazor Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Capernum Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Bellevoir Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Sepphoris Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Beth She’an Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Nazareth Study Tour (LP, Trip)

    Jezreel Study Tour (LP, Trip)

Course Outline and Topics Covered: 6 Credits

In addition to the topics covered for 3 credits, 6-credit participants also cover:






1. Complete all assigned readings before Lecture/Tutorial time.

2. Attend and participate in all Lectures, Tutorials, and Field Trips. Material will be presented and discussed and students will also practice specific skills.

3. Receive on-site instruction from supervisors and complete assigned tasks in the field. Students in the course may be given certain additional responsibilities in the field as part of their study and will have an opportunity to demonstrate skills taught in the Tutorials.

4. Keep a field notebook according to the parameters set out in the Field Recording and Registration Tutorial. Each daily excavation journal entry should include elements such as a daily top plan drawing with locus number and elevations, description of soil, architecture and artifacts/or additional material as warranted by the particular excavation unit.

5. Write a final report according to the parameters set out in the Archaeological Report Writing Tutorial concerning the area in which you have been excavating at the end of the course.

6. Complete the objective final exam focused on all aspects of the program, including Field Trips, Lectures, and Tutorials at the end of the course.

  • Archaeological Principles

    Advanced archaeology and history Writing (LP)

    Advanced Geoarchaeology (LP)

  • Laboratory Skills

    Electronic Tools: GIS, AutoCAD, 3D Imaging, Orthophotography (LP, LT)

    Ceramic Typology and Recording (LT)

    Methods for Relative dating and seriation (LP, LT)

    Human Osteological Analysis (LT, FT)

    Zooarchaeological Analysis (LT)

    Paleobotanical Analysis (LT)

    Digitization for publication (LT)

  • Field Skills

    Archaeological Report Writing (FT)

  • Culture History

    Synthesizing new archaeological data into a narrative (LP, Trip)

Required Readings

Paul Bahn and Colin Renfrew, Archaeology Essentials: Theories, Methods and Practice (New York: Thames and Hudson, 2007). 2nd Edition, 2011. ISBN13: 978-0500289129

Walter Rast, Through the Ages in Palestinian Archaeology: An Introductory Handbook (Valley Forge: Trinity Press International: 1992). ISBN 1-56338-055-2.

Additional Handout Readings


Participation:      20%

Including attendance, attitude, teamwork, and intellectual engagement

Field Report and Supplemental Material:  60%

Including appropriate products of Field and Lab Tutorial exercises

Final Exam:      20%

Educational Program Schedule


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