Graduate Students


Julia Tulaikov

PhD dissertation topic: Three Enki-Balags.

Advisor: Prof. Uri Gabai

Mika Ullman

Micka Ullman


Read More
Phd thesis topic: “Human selection and exploitation patterns of complex karstic caves during the later prehistory of the southern Levant”

Advisors: Dr. Uri Davidovich and Prof. Amos Frumkin

Abstract: From the dawn of prehistory, humans made use of natural caves for various purposes. In the southern Levant, occupation of caves began during the mid-Lower Paleolithic (ca. 600 ka) and increased during the Middle Paleolithic (ca. 250-50 ka). Paleolithic selection preferences of cave sites focused on large, spacious, well-lit and ventilated chambers with large openings. Groups of gatherers-hunters used those sites for a range of domestic activities, such as daily group gatherings, food preparation and consumption, and tool making. At times, the same sites were also used for mortuary purposes, probably in between occupation phases.    

During the Pottery Neolithic period (from ca. 6,500 BCE onward), as a result of the revolutionary changes associated with the transition to sedentary ;lifeways and food production (agriculture and animal husbandry), a shift can be observed in cave use patterns. Alongside a continuation in exploiting large, relatively open chambers, for the first time in the Levant humans began to penetrate into deep and complex caves, which are difficult to negotiate through, challenging for orientation and navigation, completely dark and damp, and often presenting a variety of remarkable natural phenomena, such as stalagmites and stalactites. Preliminary study of the archaeological finds from several complex caves in the southern Levant indicates that during certain time-spans within the 7th-3rd millennia BCE (spanning the Pottery Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age periods), the depths of complex karstic caves were used for multiple activities, at least some of which are related to ritual and burial.     

The present research revolves around the interactions between humans and their natural landscape during the emergence of early complex societies, as can be deciphered from the study of human exploitation patterns of complex karstic caves. Karstic caves are abundant in most highland regions of the southern Levant, and dozens of them reach a total length exceeding 300 m. Many of these caves were recently explored by the Israeli Cave Research Center (ICRC), Institute of Earth Sciences, the Hebrew University, and archaeological finds from the Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age periods surfaced in numerous such caves, however these are yet to be thoroughly studied. The present research will focus on the comparative analysis of cave use patterns from the aforementioned periods, including regional distribution of complex caves, spatial distribution of artifacts and ecofacts within them, and analysis of material culture remains and their context of deposition. In addition, the environmental aspects of the caves and their surrounding landscape will be explored, and Holocene geological and geomorphological processes inside the caves will be inspected. This will allow discussing human selection and exploitation patterns of complex caves during the later prehistory of the Levant, in relation to the emergence of complex societies, as well as detecting trends of continuity and change in these patterns. The uniqueness of this research is drawn from its focus on the remains of ancient human activities that took place outside the settlement sites, and the possibility to shed light on little-known aspects of social interactions and worldviews.


  • Survey of Karstic caves in the Galilee
  • Har Sifsof Cave - survey and excavations of a complex subterranean burial site from the early fifth millennium BCE, Eastern Upper Galilee (Director, with Dr. Uri Davidovich, Prof. Ofer Marder and Ron Lavi, The Hebrew University and Ben Gurion University)
  • Tel Qedesh excavations (Area supervisor, headed by Dr. Uri Davidovich and Dr. Ido Wachtel, The Hebrew University)
  • DEADSEA-ECO: Modelling Anthropocene trophic cascades of the Judean Desert ecosystem (Cave researcher, Headed by Dr. Nimrod Marom, University of Haifa)



Read Less
Rachel Waysman

Rachel Waysman

M.A. research topic: Provenance studies of Late Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age I pottery from the Judean Desert cliff caves  

itamar weissbein

Itamar Weissbein

Read More
Phd thesis topic: Cultural Changes from a Canaanite City State to an Administrative District in a territorial Kingdom: Lachish Region as a Case Study.

Advisor: Prof. Yosef Garfinkel

Summary: The research examines the processes of collapse, Formation, and continuity of ethnic identities and political systems in a distinct geographical area, over a long period, at both ends of which stand different political and ethnic systems.

As a test case, the study focuses on the Lachish region, from the last part of the Late Bronze Age, throughout the Iron Age I until the establishment of the Kingdom of Judah in the foothills (Shephelah) during the Iron Age IIA. The Lachish region experienced significant changes during the period in question, as it stood between various political systems and ethnic groups: Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines and Judeans.

The research is based on new data from three excavations conducted in recent years: at Tel Lachish, Gal’on Fortress and Khirbet al-Raʿi. The study includes a comprehensive examination of the stratigraphy, architecture, and ceramic assemblages of main excavation areas in Lachish and Khirbet al-Raʿi and a full study of the Gal’on Fortress. These data will allow a detailed analysis of the processes that took place in the region, as well as an examination of various research conceptions regarding: the nature of the Egyptian control and its withdrawal from Canaan, the beginning of Philistine settlement and the establishment of Philistine rule in the region, the question of the existence of a Canaanite enclaves in the foothills; As well as addressing theoretical issues such as the identification of political and ethnic boundaries in the archaeological record.



  • Excavations at Tel Lachish
  • Excavations at Hurbat el-Arai
  • Publication of the excavation at Gal’on Fortress



Weissbein, I., Garfinkel, Y., Hasel, M.G. and Klingbeil, M.G. 2016. Goddesses from Canaanite Lachish. Strata 34: 41–55.

Weissbein, I. 2017. Revisiting the Isolated Canaanite Temple of Tel Mevorakh. Journal of Landscape Ecology 10/3: 58–80.

Weissbein, I., Garfinkel, Y., Hasel, M. G., Klingbeil, M. G., Brandl. B. and Misgav, H. 2019. The Level VI North-East Temple at Tel Lachish. Levant 51/1:  76-104.

Taxel, I., Paran, N. S. and Weissbein. I. 2020. Tel Poran: Preliminary Report. Hadashot Arkheologiyot 132.  

Weissbein. I. 2020. Tel Gamma, Clay Figurine. Hadashot Arkheologiyot 132.

Ganor, S. and Weissbein, I. 2020. Rujum el-Masha‘ala (Gal’on Fortress). Hadashot Arkheologiyot 132.

Garfinkel, Y., Hasel, M. G., Klingbeil, M. G., Kreimerman, I., Pytlik, M., Carroll, J. C., Waybright, J. W. B., Kang, H. G, Choi, G., Chang, S. Y., Hong, S., David, A., Weissbein, I. and Silverberg, N. 2021. The Canaanite and Judean Cities of Lachish, Israel: Preliminary Report of the Fourth Expedition, 2013–2017. American Journal of Archaeology 125/3: 419-459.

Weissbein, I. 2021. Canaanite Worship at Lachish—New Details Emerge. Biblical Archaeology Review 47/3: 48-54.

Ganor, S. and Weissbein, I. 2022. The Isolated Structure of Gal’on Fortress, and the “Egyptian Governors’ Residencies” and “fortresses” in Southwestern Canaan. In: Golani, A., Varga, D., Tchekhanovets, Y. and Birkenfeld, M (eds.). Archaeological Excavations and Research Studies in Southern Israel: 18th Annual Southern Conference, Pp.1*–21*. Jerusalem: Israel Antiquities Authority, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. 





Read Less

Mordechai Wolfson
Read More

M.A. Research Topic: Dice and Board Games in the Private Sphere in Palestine During Late Antiquity

Advisor: Prof. Zeev Weiss

Abstract: In my research, I plan to examine various aspects of dice and board games, in both the practical and cultural aspects. This research will include an analysis of the archaeological findings from Sepphoris in order to characterize and define the different games and comparing the Sepphoris findings to those from other sites. I will also examine the historical sources which have information about games in the Roman world in order to determine if the findings in Sepphoris match the sources. In addition, I will examine the Rabbinic sources concerning dice and board games. The goal of the research is twofold. First, to provide information about the games themselves, and second, to examine the attitude of the Sages toward these games and those who played them. Of special interest is to determine whether in a city like Sepphoris, with a mixed Jewish and Pagan population, is it possible to define specific games which were played by only one of the populations and not the other? Or were these games a meeting place between the Pagan population to the Jewish one? These are just some of the questions which arise from the research I would like to carry out.

Research Interests:

  • The Classical periods in Israel.
  • The relation between texts and Archaeology, especially Rabbinic texts (“Talmudic Archaeology”).
  • The relationship between the Jewish and Gentile population in Israel during the Roman-Byzantine period.


  • Thesis about dice and board games in Palestine during Late antiquity.
  • Sepphoris excavation team.




Read Less
Talia Yashuv

Talia Yashuv

Read More
M.A. Thesis topic: Perforated items and perforating tools – reconstructing Late Natufian crafts at Nahal Ein-Gev II

Advisor: Prof. Leore Grosman


At the late Natufian site of Nahal Ein-Gev II, flint perforators are highly abundant. Alongside them, several groups of perforated items are evident as being crafted on site. Among them drilled shell disc beads are known in the Natufian ornamentation tradition. A group of perforated stones, however, does not appear in a Natufian context, and their function is not clear. The current study focuses on the stone items, on describing their morphology, analysing the early drilling technology, and illuminating functional aspects.

Research methodology uses 3-D scans that extract high-resolution geometrical data, and processing it with analytical tools developed at the Computerized Archaeological Laboratory (Hebrew University). Together, practical experimentation is designed to answer technological questions, and the experimental items are scanned for comparison. Consequently, it is possible to approach the technology of early hole-making, quantify the variation between different drilled holes, compare between perforating tools and perforated items, and identify details regarding the perforated stones use-wear and function. More generally, this study is an attempt to reconstruct a variety of crafts held at the Natufian village, and to shed light upon new daily life aspects of a complex culture in the transition to agriculture.

Research interest

  • The transition to agriculture
  • The Natufian and Early Neolithic cultures
  • Ground stone tools
  • Evolution of drilling technology and crafts
  • 3D analysis of archaeological artefacts

Current projects

  • The Computational Archaeological Laboratory - research staff since 2016
  • Nahal Ein-Gev II excavation project – excavating from 2013, staff from 2017
  • Motsa PPNB excavations – Israel Antiquities Authority, since 2018


Read Less

Azriel Yechezkel

PhD Dissertation Topic: Spring Tunnels in the Southern Levant: Chronology, Geography and Culture
Advisors: Prof. Uzi Leibner, Prof. Amos Frumkin


Chen Zeigen
Read More

Advisor: Prof. Erella Hovers, Dr. Ron Shaar


M.A. Thesis summery: In my research I attempt to retrieve paleomagnetic intensity and directional data from two types of common Middle Paleolithic artifacts; burnt chert and burnt sediments remaining from hearths. In the absence of polar reversal events after 760 Ky Bp, archaeomagnetic studies rarely focus on late Pleistocene sites and there is little knowledge of archaeological artifacts from this period that can provide a point-in-time recording of the earth’s magnetic field. My research therefore has two focal point. First, establishing the utility of the aforementioned materials as paleomagnetic recorders; and second, exploring ways in which paleomagnetic data can contribute to our understanding of formation processes in Amud cave.

Current Projects:


Tinshemet cave excavations, since 2018



Read Less