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Tell Keisan Excavations

Tell Keisan (Tel Kison) is a prominent flat-topped ruin mound located 15 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of the modern city of Haifa. Buried in this mound are the remains of a long series of ancient settlements that were built, destroyed, and rebuilt, one on top of another, over more than two millennia. During the Iron Age, in the period of the biblical kings of Israel, Tell Keisan and the surrounding coastal region of the Akko Plain were part of a Phoenician kingdom (Tyre, or perhaps Sidon) that engaged in far-flung trade as far west as Spain and had close economic, political, and cultural ties to the neighboring Israelites.

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 in 2016 and are co-directed by Prof. David Schloen of the University of Chicago, Prof. Gunnar Lehmann of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and Prof. Bernd Schipper of the Humboldt University of Berlin. An international team of 50 to 60 archaeologists and students worked at Tell Keisan in 2016, 2018, and 2019. After a two-year hiatus due to COVID, we plan to dig again in August 2022.

The 2023 Season of Excavations

The next excavations at Tell Keisan will take place from July 23 to August 18, 2023. We are now taking applications from volunteer diggers of all ages to join our team (no archaeological experience is required). Please note that volunteers will pay for their own airfare to Tel Aviv and will also pay a fee of $3,900 that covers four weeks of full room and board as well as weekend field trips and transportation to and from Ben-Gurion Airport. More details are provided below. If you are interested in joining the team, please contact Prof. David Schloen via email at

For University of Chicago students: Grants for airfare and other expenses are available for current UChicago College students (regardless of their major field of study) and for M.A. and Ph.D. students of Middle Eastern studies, biblical studies, or archaeology. If you are interested, please contact contact Prof. Schloen as soon as possible. UChicago students who apply by March 10 will receive full consideration for funding to cover the cost of travel, accommodation, and other expenses. However, they may sign up to join the project as late as June 30 if they can find another source of funding to pay for their airfare plus a discounted UChicago fee of $2,500 that covers four weeks’ room and board, airport transfers, and weekend excursions. Please note that students who graduate in June 2023 will not be eligible for funding.

Participants in the Tell Keisan excavations can earn 100 units of academic course credit from the University of Chicago. This is optional and an additional tuition fee will be charged. For more information about course credit, contact Prof. Schloen.


Participants in the Tell Keisan dig will arrive on Sunday, July 23, and depart on Monday, August 18, 2023. We will be housed in comfortable accommodations at a kibbutz in the Galilee region of northern Israel. Group transportation will be provided by bus from Tel Aviv airport to the kibbutz on July 23 and back to the airport on August 18.

The fee for participating in the 2023 excavations is $3,900 (or a discounted fee of $2,500 for University of Chicago students). This includes full room and board for 4 weeks (7 days per week) as well as airport transfers and weekend excursions. Participation for only 2 weeks is possible; in that case, the fee is $2,000. Airfare to Israel is extra and the cost will depend on the departure city.

Current University of Chicago undergraduates (majoring in any field) and M.A. or Ph.D. students of Middle Eastern studies, biblical studies, or archaeology are eligible to apply for a grant that covers all or most of the cost of their airfare, accommodation, and other expenses. Contact Prof. David Schloen ( for more information.

Dig participants will join in the ongoing research at Tell Keisan in close collaboration with professional archaeologists, who will give them hands-on training in stratigraphic excavation methods and computerized field recording procedures, including digital mapping of architectural features and artifact find-spots. We will work five days per week, from Monday to Friday, with initial orientation and training sessions on the first Monday, July 24. After spending the morning digging at the excavation site, we will return to the kibbutz for lunch and a rest period, followed by a late-afternoon work session to wash and sort the pottery, bones, and other finds. Evening lectures by the Tell Keisan co-directors and professional staff will provide background knowledge on the Canaanite culture of the Bronze Age and the Phoenician and Israelite cultures of the Iron Age. On Saturdays there will be free time to relax, go to the beach, or travel on your own. On Sundays there will be excursions to other archaeological sites and museums, including a trip to Jerusalem.

The daily schedule from Monday to Friday each week is as follows:

  • first breakfast at 5:00 a.m. (a light breakfast of bread, jam, coffee, tea)
  • bus departs for the site at 5:30 a.m.
  • excavation from 6:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
  • second breakfast on the site from 9:00 to 9:45 a.m.
  • fruit break from 11:30 to 11:45 a.m.
  • bus back to the kibbutz at 1:00 p.m.
  • lunch at 2:00 p.m.
  • free time until 4:30 p.m.
  • afternoon work from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m. (washing and sorting the finds; digital mapping and data work)
  • lecture at 6:00 p.m. (on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays only)
  • dinner at 7:00 p.m. followed by free time

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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