Field School Courses

The Legio Field School

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)

Course Topics

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.

Course Outline and Topics Covered: 3 Creditsasked questions

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)

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


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.

Course Outline and Topics Covered: 6 Credits

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)

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

Required Reading 

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 will be posted in the future


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%

Learning outcomes

3- and 6-credit Options

Both the 3-credit and 6-credit course options are designed to facilitate the following learning outcomes. Details concerning the topics and the types of instruction can be found below and in the detailed calendar below.

• Gain a basic understanding of the archaeological and historical background of the broad region in which the field school operates.

• Assess the success and failures of different archaeological methods over the last 150 years of archaeology in the region.

• Learn to recognize and distinguish a number of archaeological methods, and when to implement them appropriately.

• Appraise what comprises an archaeological site, and discern the appropriate methods for locating sites.

• Examine geomorphological and site-formation processes that affect the archaeological record and excavation strategies.

• Discover the principles of stratigraphy, and gain experience producing stratigraphic schema.

• Learn the sequence and procedures for archaeological field excavation:

o Field safety

o Equipment use and maintenance

o Mapping technologies, including tape/compass, theodolite, total station

o Manual and electronic grid layout

o Manual excavation techniques

o Context definition and excavation

• Gain practical knowledge of recording practices used in excavation:

o Horizontal plan and vertical section documenting and drawing

o Context recording

o Artifact and ecofact plotting

o Field drawing and photography

• Study dating techniques in order to determine relative and absolute chronology.

• Investigate a variety of laboratory-based studies, their procedures, and benefits for archaeological documentation and interpretation:

o Ceramics

o Archaeobotanical remains

o Small finds

o Lithics

o Human osteology

o Archaeozoology

• Experience laboratory activities conducted on a variety of samples:

o Artifact illustration

o Artifact photography

o Artifact and ecofact conservation

o Botanical and geological sample processing

• Learn to create, manage, and use data.

• Understand how to write excavation reports.

• Explore the potential applications of ethnography and experimental practices for archaeology.

• Examine the importance of ethical practices in archaeology, and the necessity of engaging cultural heritage.


Further, 6-credit course participants will:

• Acquire basic exposure to a variety of computer programs associated with archaeological field work;

o Adobe Illustrator

o AutoCAD

o ArcGIS

o Agisoft Photoscan

• Acquire more detailed geoarchaeological experience in participating in on-going field and laboratory studies.

• Learn procedures for and implement a variety of advanced technologies employed by the JVRP:

o Orthophotography

o 3D photography

o 3D scanning and modeling

o Digital planning and artifact rendering

• Learn the fundamentals of and engage in technical drawing of ceramics.

• Use AutoCAD and Adobe Illustrator to produce publication quality drawings, maps, plans – digitized from hand drawings.

• Engage in hands-on archaeozoological indentification and analysis

• Engage in archaeological interpretation and learn the pros and cons of historical extrapolation.

• Gain insight into the types of specialized studies and technologies available to the archaeologist such that the student is able to communicate research questions to such specialists.

• Learn the principles of publication-quality report writing.

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.

2018 Educational Program Details

Excavation dates

June 22 - July 19 (4 weeks) Saturday, June 22: Volunteers arrive Sunday, June 23: First day of excavation Thursday, July 18: Last day of excavation Friday, July 19: Volunteers depart The work week is Sunday through Thursday with Friday and Saturdays off for relaxation or travel.

Education Program and Academic Credit Rates (University of Hawai'i)

The JVRP includes a detailed educational program for all participants. Now, participants can earn academic credit for the program from the University of Hawai'i! 3 Credits (ANTH 381/LLEA 399 Archaeological Field Techniques): $600 6 Credits (ANTH 381/LLEA 399 Archaeological Field Techniques): $1200 Credit course consists of Lecture Presentations, Field & Lab Tutorials, and Field Trips. Credit course requiresenrollment for either 3 credits or 6 credits and enrollment in the Pre-season Tour (see below).

Volunteer Rates

STANDARD ROOM AND BOARD 4 Week Volunteer: June 24 – July 21 $2115 (Early Bird: $1999; pay in full by March 1, 2017) FLEXIBLE STAY ROOM AND BOARD: Interested in working with us but can't stay for the full time? Contact us for rates based on your schedule: These costs cover your stay at the Kibbutz from June 24, 2017 departing July 21, 2017. Also included are your daily weekday meals. Airfare is not included. The above prices are subject to adjustment if there is a significant change in the shekel/dollar rate. Please confirm the total before sending your check.

Pre-season Introductory Tour

Pre-season Introductory Tour of Sites in Northern Israel: $1500 5-day tour of sites in northern Israel with accompanying lectures by the director and staff of the JVRP. Sites include: Tel Dan (Bronze and Iron Ages), Baniyas (Graeco-Roman), Hazor (Bronze and Iron Ages), Capernum (New Testament), Bellevoir (Crusader), Sepphoris (Graeco-Roman), Nazareth (New Testament), Beth Shean (Bronze age to Byzantine), Jezreel (Iron Age). Includes room, board, and transportation. Required for all credit course participants.

Funding Opportunities

The JVRP is unable to offer scholarships or other types of funding for volunteers. However, there are a number of organizations who offer competitive merit and need-based funding for participation in archaeological excavations. See the following: American Schools of Oriental Research Fellowships Biblical Archaeology Society Scholarships Archaeological Institute of America Scholarship American Archaeology Abroad Scholarships Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society Grants


Our excavation team is housed at a bed-and-breakfast at Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek, just a short ride from the excavation site. Team members stay in air-conditioned guest rooms with bathrooms and refrigerator. The kibbutz boasts a grocery store, swimming pool, pub, free wi-fi, and sports facilities. The kibbutz is also centrally located within the country - weekend trips to almost anywhere are manageable. ​​​​ ​​

Daily work schedule

Our work week begins Sunday morning and ends Thursday afternoon. Fridays and Saturdays are free--relax, sleep in, go to the pool, have a BBQ, travel! Friday and Saturday accommodation provided, but meals are not. 4:45 AM Bus departs for the site 5:00 AM - 8:30 AMExcavation work on site 8:30 AM - 9:00 AMBreakfast on site 9:00 AM - 11:00 AMExcavation work on site 11:00 AM - 11:15 AMBreak 11:15 AM - 1:00 PMExcavation work on site 1:00 PM Bus departs for the Kibbutz 1:15 PM - 2:00 PM Lunch 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM Leisure time 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM Processing work at Kibbutz 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM Special programming (eg, lectures) 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM Dinner 8:00 PM - Rest and relaxation