Archaeology News in Israel

Archaeology News in IsraelIn this section we bring you an update on an archaeological excavation going on in Israel. We hope you find it helpful.

Archaeological Remains from the First Temple Period found on the Temple Mount

Remains from the First Temple period were discovered during excavations at the Temple Mount at the end of 2007. During an archaeological inspection carried out by Jerusalem archaeologist Yuval Baruch, an area containing important remains was discovered opposite the south-eastern corner of the raised platform that surrounds the Dome of the Rock. Among the finds were pieces of a table and animal bones that are estimated to date from the eighth – sixth centuries BCE.

The finds were inspected by Yuval Baruch from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Prof. Ronnie Reich from Haifa University, Prof. Israel Finkelstein from Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Sy Gitin, the head of the Albright Institute. These experts concluded that based on the nature and the location of the finds, they can be an important archaeological tool for recreating and understanding the boundaries of the Temple Mount during the First Temple Period.

Among the finds collected were pieces of ceramic plates; fragments of bowl rims, bases and body sherds; the base of a juglet used for the ladling of oil; the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar. The bowl sherds were decorated with wheel burnishing lines characteristic of the First Temple Period.

The Israel Antiquities Authority will hold a seminar in order to discuss the finds and the archaeological information revealed by the discovery.

Archeological Excavations – Summer 2007


• Tel Rekhesh – 28/07/2007 – 30/08/2007
Masaki Okita, Kuwabara Isao, Moshe Kohavi and Yitzhak Paz, on behalf of Tenri University, Japan

• El-Kabri – 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Raphael Frankel, on behalf of the University of Haifa, Zinman Institute of Archaeology

• Giv’at Kipod – 01/07/2007 – 31/12/2007
Daniel Rosenberg, on behalf of the University of Haifa, Zinman Institute of Archaeology

• Tel Hazor; Nahal Hazor – 24/06/2007 – 03/08/2007
Amnon Ben-Tor and Sharon Zuckerman, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology

• Umm el-Kanatir; Umm el-Kanatir (South) 01/02/2007 – 31/12/2007
Haim Ben David and Ilana Goren, on behalf of Bar Ilan University, Department of Land of Israel Studies

• Tel Rehov24/06/2007 – 09/08/2007
Ami Mazar, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology


• Nahal Mayarot; Mayarat HaNahal – 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Mina Evron and Reuven Shoron, on behalf of the University of Haifa, Zinman Institute of Archaeology

• Caesarea – 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Joseph Porath, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority

• Nahal Mitla cliff – 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Mina Evron, on behalf of the University of Haifa, Zinman Institute of Archaeology

• Horbat Migdal Afeq; Horbat Migdal Afeq (West) – 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Tzvika Tzuk, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority

• Horbat Umm el Umdan; Horbat Sher – 01/03/2007 – 31/08/2007
David Ilan, Yuval Gadot and Yoav Farhi, on behalf of the Hebrew Union College, Jerusalem


• Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Nahal Kidron- 01/01/2007 – 31/12/2007
Gabriel Barkay and Yitzhak Zweig, on behalf of Bar Ilan University, Department of the Land of Israel Studies

• The Old City of Jerusalem, The Jewish Quarter, Cardo – 01/02/2007 – 31/12/2007
Hillel Geva, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Exploration Society and Oren Gottfeld, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology and the Israel Exploration Society

• Khirbet Qeiyafa – 12/08/2007 – 26/08/2007
Yossi Garfinkel and Saar Ganor, on behalf of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Institute of Archaeology

The long-term excavation is located in ancient Tiberias, a city known as the capital of Herod Antipas, as a place where Jesus preached, the seat of the Sanhedrin, and the place where the Jerusalem Talmud was written. It is so rich in antiquities that archaeologists in Israel call it “the City of Treasures.” Situated immediately south of the modern city of Tiberias, the excavation has volunteer opportunities, and it is each to reach.

The March – April 2006 season of excavations in ancient Tiberias focused on continuing with the excavation of the Byzantine basilica complex. The season provided many pleasant surprises as well as new challenges, which they will try to resolve in the upcoming season of October – November 2006.

The March – April season was rich with small finds, including a hoard of 96 silver coins, found under the floor of a store, directly outside the basilica building. The hoard has been dated to the Fatimid period (beginning of the 11th century C.E.) and includes coins minted in Mesopotamia and Asia Minor. They also found an intact gold ring, complete with an incised semi-precious stone depicting the profile of the goddess Athena. They uncovered an array of mosaic floors belonging to the basilica. The motifs, which are both geometric and floral, are rich in color and technique, providing them with better knowledge of the high level of workmanship which existed in the capital of the Galilee.
On the last day of the season, they discovered what might be the monumental entrance to the basilica from its southern side. A large staircase was partially uncovered, but the excavation has just begun in this area, and continuing here will be one of their primary goals for the October – November, 2006 season.

The next season will begin on October 21st, 2006 and continue through November 16th, 2006. During this period, work will continue on the Basilica building and its surrounding complex. The season is divided into 4 weeks, each with 5 workdays in the field (Sunday-Thursday). Minimum participation is one work week. For volunteer options and further details, please visit

Archaeological Excavations – January – May, 2007

Region: Northern Galilee and Hahula Valley

Horvat Batiya
Following an excavation that took place ten years ago at the same site this excavation is continuing to uncover walls from a Byzantine era farm.
Excavation dates: 22/2/2007 – 2/5/2007
Excavator: Hanaa Abu-Uqsa

Region: Southern Galilee and the valleys

Tel Ressim
In the previous season at this tel a kiln from the Hellenistic period, tombs from the Persian period, and remains from the Late Bronze Age were discovered. It is believed that the area on the outskirts of the tel was used for workshops, but its function is not yet determined.
Excavation dates: 25/2/2007 – 15/5/2007
Excavator: Walid Atrash

Remains of buildings from the Early Islamic period were uncovered at this site. One building has an impressive mosaic floor. There are also remains of columns exposed throughout the site believed to be from the streets of Tiberias. The excavation also includes excavations from the Late Roman period.
Excavation dates: 27/2/2007 – 7/5/2007
Excavators: Moshe Hartal, Edna Amos

Tiberias and Hamat South
The team at this excavation is uncovering remains from the Early Islamic period. There are certain remains found in the area that point to the existence of pottery and glass vessel production. In the southern part of the excavation area there are remains of the Bet Shean – Tiberias road, as well as artifacts from the Early Bronze Age.
Excavation dates: 4/3/2007 – 19/4/2007
Excavator: Moshe Hartal

Region: Jerusalem and the Judean Hills

The Mount Zion Hillside
This excavation is working to discover the route of Jerusalem’s ancient walls. In the process many pottery items are being uncovered, mostly from the Second Temple period.
Excavation dates: 18/2/2007 – 30/4/2007
Excavator: Yehiel Zelinger

Region: Southern Coastal Plane

Jaffa (the police compound)
Inside a police building 30 squares are being excavated and remains from the Byzantine, Islamic, Crusade, and Ottoman periods are being exposed.
Excavation dates: 13/2/2007 – 15/4/2007
Excavator: Yoav Arbel

New study points to precise location of Second Jewish Temple

According to a new study published by Professor Joseph Patrich, he has located the exact location of the Second Jewish Temple. According to Patrich, professor of archaeology at the Hebrew University, certain archaeological finds that were ignored until now indicate precisely where the Temple stood. Patrich claims that a large cistern found adjacent to the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount indicates the exact location of the Temple.

Based on the findings of the research, the Dome of the Rock, built in the seventh century, is outside of the boundaries of the Second Temple. The rock is seen by Jews as the site of the binding of Isaac, which is a later tradition. Moslems, believe it is the site where Muhammad ascended to heaven.

The meticulously designed water cistern is 15 meters deep, 4.5 meters wide and 54 meters long. Based on Patrich’s interpretations of passages relating to the daily Temple service from the Mishna (the Rabbinic Oral Tradition compiled in the 3rd century C.E.), and the cistern at hand, he concludes that the Temple actually stood more to the southeast, than what was believed until now.

We were fortunate to a have few moments to talk with Professor Patrich. He began by dismissing claims that his work is political in any way:

“This research is not connected to what is happening at the Mugrabi gate. The study is on the location of the temple within the Temple Mount. It is a scholarly study without any political or ideological motivations which I have been engaged in for the past year. ”

On the significance of the study he said: “For the first time we have an opportunity to locate where the temple stood. We now have a huge, large, archaeological find that locates its position.”

Ongoing Excavations

Horbat Rimon

This excavation in the southern coastal plane is of a complex residential structure made up of two rows of rooms and an inner courtyard. The structure is built out of fine limestone masonry blocks. The excavation will be conducted intermittently as an activity for young people on behalf of the Negev Archaeological Center.
Excavator Nir S. Paran
1/4/2006 – 31/12/2006

The Shiloah Pool

The excavation is involved with cleaning the various channels and aqueducts between the Byzantine pool and the Second Temple period pool. An excavation is also being conducted in the vicinity of the northeastern corner of the entrance plaza that leads to the pool and dates to Second Temple period.
Excavators Eli Shukron and Ronny Reich
1/3/2006 – 31/12/2006

The Western Wall Plaza (The Ada Carmi Building)

Since resuming the excavation it is focusing on the area of the vaults built along and adjacent to the bedrock cliff, which was probably built at the end of the 11th century. In the end of the previous season a number of large paving stones, similar to those found in Jerusalem from the Roman period, were exposed above the bedrock. It appears that they are the remains of a road that is customarily referred to as the ‘Eastern Cardo.’
Excavator Shlomit Wexler-Bdoulah
25/9/2006 – 16/11/2006

Jaffa, The Market Place

At this site the excavation of the flea market (on Rabbi Pinchas Street) is continuing.
Remains that include walls and water conduits dating to the Iron Age, Hellenistic, Early Islamic, Crusader and Ottoman period were discovered. Additinally, a limestone slab (50 x 50 cm) engraved with a menorah was discovered on Tanchum Street, and is believed to be the door of a tomb.
Excavator Yoav Arbel
4/6/2006 – 31/1/2007

Latest Archeological Discoveries

King Herod’s Grave Discovered

After more than thirty years of searching, in May of 2007, Professor Ehud Netzer finally uncovered the grave of King Herod at the Herodium archeological site southeast of Jerusalem. Together with archeologists Yaakov Kalman and Roi Porath, and in conjunction with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology, the excavations that began in 1972, recently uncovered a sarcophagus (stone coffin) and mausoleum (large stately tomb) on the northeastern slope of Mount Herodium.

The magnitude of the discovery lies in the personality of the king buried at the site. King Herod was a central figure in Jewish history and in the history of the Holy Land. He ruled over Judea from 37 to 4 BCE, and left a mark on the area with his lavish and expansive building projects. Herod reconstructed the second temple and expanded the Temple Mount, he reestablished the cities of Shomron and Caesarea, he built the Masada fortress, and he built the Herodium.

2011 years ago King Herod was buried at the Herodium during an extravagant funeral that the king himself planned. Professor Netzer explains that Herod prepared the site over several years and he decided where the funeral would take place and where he would be buried.

Professor Netzer claims that the grave uncovered is, with out a doubt, Herod’s grave. Further support of this claim comes from historian Josephus Flavius who wrote a great deal about King Herod. In his writings, which Netzer used as a guide throughout his quest, he states that Herod was buried at the Herodium and describes his burial in great detail.

Previously it was believed that Herod was buried in the tower on top of the mountain. On the peak of the mountain there is an elaborate building made of Gazit stone, whose length is 130 meters and width is 60 meters. There is a 350 meter paved road leading up to the tower, which scholars claim was paved especially for the king’s funeral. When no sign of the burial place itself was found within the building, the expedition started to search for it on the slope of the hill. There seems to be no doubt that the initial intention of the king was to be buried in the estate and only later in his life did he change his mind and asked to be buried at the site that was uncovered of late.

After digging in various locations over many years, archeologists uncovered a two and half meter long sarcophagus made from Jerusalem stone, which is decorated with rosettes. The sarcophagus had a triangular cover, which was decorated on its sides. The sarcophagus itself, however, was almost totally destroyed in ancient times. King Herod had many enemies, and Professor Netzer believes that between the years 66 and 72 AD, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, Jewish rebels destroyed his grave. The rebels were known for their hatred of Herod and all that he stood for, as a “puppet ruler” for the Romans.

What remains today is an elaborate stone foundation, a large square 10 X 10 meters. At the site they also found a podium – a complete structure, which was commonly found in temples and graves. Professor Netzer points out that Herod’s grave was looted and taken apart in the first century AD, therefore they did not find any bones at the site.

Professor Netzer has extensive experience in Herodian archaeology , digging in the past at sites like Masada and Herodian palaces in Jericho. However, this discovery is one of the most significant in the past years and is a highlight for Netzer and a highlight for the study of Second Temple period archaeology in general.

King Herod’s Thoroughfare Discovered in the City of David

The Israel Antiquities Authority has recently uncovered an ancient thoroughfare used in the time of King Herod, 2,000 years ago. Located in the City of David, the site where King David built Jerusalem 3,000 years ago, archeologists believe that the thoroughfare was used by worshippers to reach the Temple Mount from the City of David. The road is believed to be more than 6 football fields in length, and is a surprising discovery for archaeologists who previously thought that the central road from the second temple period was in a different location. According to archeologists Professor Ronny Reich of the University of Haifa and Eli Shukrun of the Hebrew University, the road that was found is wider than previous finds, and is flanked by what is believed to be stores, where vendors sold their goods to pilgrims visiting the temple.

Ancient Anchorage Found off Netanya Shore

A local lifeguard alerted the Israel Antiquities Authority, after finding an iron anchor on the seabed near the northern city of Netanya. The Marine Unit of the Antiquities Authority examined the area and found large stone anchors from the late Middle Bronze Age (4,000 years ago), and anchors from the Byzantine period (5th-7th century CE). The finds are significant because they indicate, for the first time, that this area was used for anchorage during antiquity.

Burial Field Uncovered in Jerusalem

Next to the Holy Land Hotel in Jerusalem, on the site where a model of the Second Temple once stood, a 4,000 year old burial plot was discovered. The cemetery covers an area of over two dunams, and was used throughout many years. Evidence indicates that it was mostly in use during the Bronze Age (specifically between 2200-2000 BCE and 1700-1600 BCE). Various artifacts were found in the burial site, including amulets, weapons, tools, jewelry, and pottery. Human and animal bones were also found. Experts explain that the animals were probably part of a ancient practice referred to as “food for the dead.” These discoveries indicate that the rural region near Canaanite Jerusalem was greater than previously believed.

Prehistoric Remains Discovered at Ramat Rachel, Jerusalem

In an Israel Antiquities Authority excavation evidence was uncovered of prehistoric man’s existence in Jerusalem. During a routine archaeological inspection by the Antiquities Authority of the Ramat Rachel construction project in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, prehistoric remains were exposed that date to the Middle Paleolithic Age (200,000 – 50,000 BP).

Noha Sa’id-Aga, an archaeologist and inspector with the Antiquities Authority, uncovered a large concentration of stone tools that were used hundreds of thousands of years ago by prehistoric man. In the wake of the discovery an archaeological excavation was conducted there for more than a week during which hundreds of tools were collected that date to the Middle Paleolithic Age (200,000 – 50,000 BP).

The excavation directors, archaeologists Omri Barzilai and Michal Birkenfeld, report that the reason for the ancient settlement there was probably because of the its proximity to flint outcrops from which man produced his tools. “It is reasonable to assume that in this period man existed by hunting animals and gathering wild plants and did not permanently occupy one site; rather he wandered from place to place, in search of important resources such as water and food”, the excavation directors said.

The discovery of such an ancient site in Jerusalem is particularly exciting for the excavators because even though the city is rich in antiquities from different periods, they only know of two other sites that are ascribed to the Paleolithic period: one on Emek Refaim Street and the other in the vicinity of Mount Scopus. The Antiquities Authority reports that the discovery of the site at Ramat Rachel joins these two and proves that the Jerusalem region was attractive to man, not only from the Biblical period onward, but during prehistoric periods as well.

Olive Press Uncovered in Northern Israel

During the second Lebanon War, in the course of the construction of a new neighborhood next to the settlement of Allone Abba, inspectors of the Antiquities Authority were surprised to discover a beautiful olive press installed inside of a rock-hewn cave. The olive press was used more than 2,000 years ago for the industrial production of olive oil. A stone seal with a drawing of a bird and an olive branch was discovered on the floor of the cave.
The finds from the olive oil plant indicate that it was first used in the Hellenistic period (4th-1st centuries BCE) and continued to operate in the Early Roman period (1st century CE). Bone spoons used for scooping up the olive paste from the basin and a stone seal engraved with a bird and an olive branch, whose purpose has yet to be ascertained, were found on the floor of the cave.
The excavations began prior to the war and were recently completed. Due to the beauty and importance of the site the Antiquities Authority recommends preserving it as an educational and cultural site.

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