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Tell Keisan Excavations

Tell Keisan — an ancient Canaanite and Phoenician city


Excavations at Tell Keisan

The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, in partnership with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, is excavating Tell Keisan (Tel Kison), a prominent mound nine miles northeast of Haifa that is the site of an ancient city of the Bronze and Iron Ages (ca. 3000 to 600 BCE). In the era of the Israelite kings, this city and the surrounding coastal region were incorporated into the Phoenician kingdom of Tyre — an important maritime power with close economic, political, and cultural ties to the neighboring Israelites. Tyre famously sent fleets of ships to explore the Mediterranean coastlands in search of silver and other goods, establishing trading posts and colonies as far west as Spain.

Tell Keisan was first excavated briefly in the 1930s, and then for several years in the 1970s by the École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem. The current excavations began with a geophysical survey of the site in 2015, followed by one-month excavation seasons in the summers of 2016, 2018, and 2019. We are focusing on the Iron Age remains of the Phoenician period, when the inhabitants of Tell Keisan became integrated into the emerging Mediterranean economy pioneered by the Phoenicians, and also developed close links to the kingdom of Israel, whose border ran nearby in the Galilee hills and Jezreel Valley.

CANCELED: The next excavations at Tell Keisan will take place from August 29 to September 25, 2020. We are taking applications from volunteer diggers to join our team (no archaeological experience required). Students from the University of Chicago and elsewhere can earn course credit while digging by enrolling in the “Field Archaeology” course in the UChicago Summer Session. Please note that students will pay for their own airfares and living expenses, in addition to the tuition fee for the course. However, summer research grants for airfare and other expenses are available for UChicago undergraduates. These are awarded on the basis of academic merit and relevance to the student’s program of study. (UChicago College students who receive summer research grants are not required to enroll in the “Field Archaeology” course, although they are encouraged to do so.) For more information, please contact Prof. David Schloen via email at

Tell Keisan in the News

Featured dig and cover photo (showing UChicago College student Will Shine) in Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2020.

Featured dig in Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 2019.

“Tell Keisan: Implementing Modern Data Strategies at the Renewed Excavations” by Andrew M. Wright, Oriental Institute News and Notes, Spring 2019.


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