Volunteer at Khirbet ʿAuja el-Foqa


Dates: May 26-June 23, 2019

Location: Khirbet ʿAuja el-Foqa, Israel

One of the most vexing issues in biblical archaeology today has to do with the nature and extent of the early Kingdom of Judah or the “United Kingdom” of Israel, and the days of Kings Saul, David and Solomon. Was it a kingdom at all? Did it have a centralized administration or government? Were there fortified cities associated with it? The discovery and excavation of Khirbet Qeiyafa, in the Elah Valley, was the earliest fortified city uncovered in the territory of the Kingdom of Judah that dates to the period of Kings Saul and David. To the east, in the southern Jordan Valley, another such site is Khirbet ʿAuja el-Foqa, a fortified town located on a prominent hill controlling the ʿAuja spring and overlooking the Jericho Valley.

The survey of Manasseh has already shown that this is a fortified site that dates to the Iron Age II (1000-586 BCE), and that it has at least two phases of occupation, with structures standing up to 2 m high. It contains dozens of structures and is encircled by a casemate wall. It may be identified with the site of Ataroth, mentioned in the description of the Manasseh-Ephraim boundary in Joshua 16:5, and may have served as a regional administrative center for the Kingdom of Judah.

In the summer of 2019, the Jordan Valley Excavation Project (JVEP) will begin excavating this fascinating site, with a view to reconstructing its occupational history, uncovering its material culture, and solving the mystery of whether it may be linked to the Israelite settlement of the region in biblical times.

Join JVEP as a volunteer on this pioneering excavation and experience Israel like never before!