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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem


January 6 - February 1, 2002 Last Season!

 Lush date palm grove at Ein Gedi oasis

About the Excavation

Located along the shores of the Dead Sea, next to the southward bound road running from Jerusalem to Masada, about 1 1/2 hour's ride from the country's capital, this scenic desert oasis abounds in brooks, waterfalls, as well as a rich and diverse tropical vegetation. (Map)

This year's  excavation will take place in the Roman-Byzantine village itself. To date, we have uncovered at various sites in the oasis: two flour mills, one from the Byzantine period (5th to 6th centuries C.E.) and the other from the Mamluk period (13th to 15th centuries); a Roman bath house; and an installation for the production of perfumes from the balsam plant. In the last season our major discovery was the Essene settlement, situated on the highest point of the oasis, 200 m. above the Dead Sea, where we found material evidence for the existence of a recluse community dating to the 1st-2nd centuries C.E. These inhabitants may be associated with the Essenes, a sect of individuals who, according to one Roman source, lived in seclusion above Ein Gedi.

During excavations, the expedition's camp is located in the palm grove adjacent to the ancient village of Ein Gedi. It is there that we eat our breakfast and lunch, as well as wash and sort potsherds and register the artifacts as they are found. All excavation activities are supervised by qualified archaeologists, who guide, instruct, and explain to the volunteers the work required of them.

After-dig recreational activities are varied, including bathing in the hot springs of Ein Gedi or in the Dead Sea, walks through the nature reserve, or experiencing the pastoral sunset over the desert cliffs. Lectures on various historical and archaeological topics complement the work regimen.

Volunteer Tim Orbison has kindly created a website containing a nostalgic photo album of the Year 2000 excavation at Ein Gedi. Visit: óre-experience your stay at the Ein Gedi excavation site and meet the staff and volunteers!

Send correspondence, registration form and fee to:

Prof. Y. Hirschfeld, Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University, Mount Scopus,
Jerusalem, Israel 91905.

Fax: 972-2-5812452. E-mail:

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Last update: 03-06-2002

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