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Archaeological Excavations

Previous Excavations

The Institute of Archaeology will not be conducting a dig this summer. Our next dig site will be announced soon. In the meantime, please feel free to explore our previous excavations below.

Lachish Israel 2013-2017

Tel Lachish

The Fourth Expedition to Lachish is a multi-disciplinary field project investigating the Iron Age history of the ancient biblical city of Tel Lachish consisting of a consortium of institutions under the direction of Yosef Garfinkel, Michael Hasel, and Martin Klingbeil.

Starting the grid at Lachish in 2013 Season

A grid consists of a network of squares used to mark off a site or large excavation area before digging begins. At Lachish, we used square units that were 5m x 5m or around 16ft x 16ft in size and typically had 4 to 5 squares open at a time.

Watermelon Break 2014 Season

During the dig, there are three food breaks. The first break is a short one for tea and croissants at 7:00 a.m., followed by breakfast at 9:00 a.m. The final break of the day, and the most appreciated one, is the watermelon break at 11:00 a.m.

Archaeology Finds 2015 Season

Sometimes during fieldwork, you may have the opportunity to discover beautiful artifacts, like the rare whole vessel shown in this picture. Usually, you will only find sherds or large pieces of a vessel.

Square Supervisors 2016 Season

Each excavation square is overseen by a square supervisor, typically supported by three volunteer diggers. The square supervisor provides guidance in the teaching and demonstration of archaeological methods and theories on a daily basis.

Students using the Munsell Chart 2017 Season

Archaeology students at Lachish evaluate soil color, using the Munsell Soil Color Chart. While soil color does not directly affect the behavior of the soil or its usefulness, it can provide important insights on the organic matter content, mineral composition, moisture content, and drainage characteristics of the soil.

Khirbet Shuweikah (Socoh) Israel

Khirbet Shuweikah (Socoh) October 21-22, 2010

The Socoh project's goal was to expand the Khirbet Qeiyafa Archaeological Project into a regional study focusing on the Elah Valley's history and Judah's expansion in the Early Iron Age. Aerial photo of Socoh with the Elah Valley to the north and west.


A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth's surface. When used directly at the excavation site, GIS improves archaeology's ability to map and record data. Archaeology and preservation rely on surveys and documentation, and GIS enables accurate and efficient fieldwork.

A Looted Tomb at Socoh

The illegal removal of items from an archaeological site is called archaeological looting. This type of looting is the main source of objects for the antiquities market. The two main methods of looting are the unauthorized export of artifacts from their country of origin or the internal distribution of stolen goods.

A private seal impression on a jar handle

Seals functioned as a signature in the ancient world. By pressing the engraved surface of a seal into wet clay, an individual could authorize or secure various documents. Seals could also act as items of jewelry, protective amulets, family heirlooms, and statements of social position.

Field Survey

A field survey requires the archaeologist to physically inspect the project area according to a developed survey methodology.  The archaeologist walks over the entire project area in evenly spaced transects.  Depending upon the vegetative cover and soil, the archaeologist may systematically dig shovel probes into the soil to search for artifacts.

A well at Socoh

This well was preserved at the bottom of the valley near the abandoned village of Khirbet Shuweikeh, a village from the late Islamic period.

Khirebet Qeiyafa Israel 2009-2011

Khirebet Qeiyafa

Excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa began in 2007 under the direction of Israel Antiquities Authority's Saar Ganor and Hebrew University's Yosef Garfinkel. Southern Adventist University joined the excavation in 2009 and continued until 2011.

The bucket chain 2009 season

The bucket chain is an efficient and quick method for removing large amounts of dirt from a site.

Cataloging Pottery 2010 season

Archaeology involves more than just excavating artifacts; it also entails meticulously cataloging everything discovered during each day's excavation. The positioning of artifacts at the site offers insight into the activities that took place.

Aerial Shots 2010 Season

This is how we used to capture aerial photos of recently excavated artifacts without a drone. These photos would later be utilized in articles, site reports, and other publications about Khirebet Qeiyafa.

When Pottery is Found 2011 season

All pottery fragments discovered are placed in plastic buckets labeled with a specific number corresponding to the square they were found in, the date of the discovery, and the name of the square supervisor. This number then becomes the locus number and is used to identify the fragments stored in the bucket from that point forward.

Illustrations of artifacts 2011 season

It is impossible for archaeologists to adequately analyze an archaeological find using only photos. To fully comprehend the find, they must produce a technical illustration. Illustrations are far more realistic than photographs and are the best way to understand the true size of an archaeological find.

Hazor Israel 2004-2007

Tel Hazor

Hazor was a major fortified city in the Fertile Crescent during the Middle Bronze Age. It was well-known for importing tin for the bronze industry and maintaining trade relations with Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. The city is described as "the head of all those kingdoms." Josh.11:10. Southern Adventist University excavated at Hazor from 2004-2007.

Tel Hazor

Southern students working at Hazor.

Tel Hazor

A close-up of the excavation site.

Tel Hazor

The crew is on a break while Dr. Hasel takes a photo of the excavation progress.

Tel Hazor

Volunteers working at Hazor.


Dry sieving is an archaeological method used to sift sediment with sieve meshes to find small artifacts that could be easily overlooked during excavation. By shaking or vibrating the sieve, particles can pass through the gaps in the wire mesh. After being separated, the archaeologist can examine these individual particles.

Idalion Cyprus June 18 - August 10, 2003

Idalion Cyprus

Idalion's city-kingdom was the most prominent of Cyprus' ten city-kingdoms, thriving in the sixth and seventh centuries B.C. It was dominated and influenced by the Mycenaean civilization, the seafaring Phoenicians and biblical Philistines, Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Persians in Mesopotamia, Archaic Greece, and even Christian Byzantium.

Excavation Staff

Excavation Staff 2003 included individuals from Southern Adventist University, Lycoming College, and other staff and volunteers

Pottery Washing

After a morning of digging, the pottery sherds are washed in the afternoon. They are dunked into a bucket of water and gently scrubbed with a toothbrush to remove any dirt so that the archaeologists can read them later.

Cleaning the site

Before starting to dig, it's important to clear the site of the weeds and shrubs that have grown during the spring and winter.

plumb bob

Plumb bobs are essential in accurately mapping out features and excavation units by providing precise locations for boundaries and artifacts within a specific excavation unit when used in combination with a measuring tape.

Top plans

Archaeologists create plan and section drawings to illustrate features in their original position, showing a top-down view. These drawings often display different phases of archaeological finds across an area.


Micheal G. Hasel


Hackman Hall
RM 121