Volunteering for a dig in Israel


By Ryan Jones

Volunteering to participate in an Israeli archeological dig can change your life. To participate in uncovering the past, especially as so much of it dates from the biblical era, is an opportunity few experience. And yet, it is easier to do than many realise.

Archeological expeditions in Israel often enlist the help of volunteers on their digs. Previous experience is not normally a prerequisite.

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By Ryan Jones

Volunteering to participate in an Israeli archeological dig can change your life. To participate in uncovering the past, especially as so much of it dates from the biblical era, is an opportunity few experience. And yet, it is easier to do than many realise.

Archeological expeditions in Israel often enlist the help of volunteers on their digs. Previous experience is not normally a prerequisite. Archeologists appreciate the help of volunteers because of their high level of motivation driven by a desire to truly learn from the experience.

Volunteering on a dig is not for everyone, however. The hours can be long, and the work is often gruelling and tedious. On the other hand, these difficulties are offset by the thrill of new discoveries as well as by the offered lectures, excursions and numerous other planned activities.

Browse through this information about volunteering at a dig in Israel to get a better idea of the conditions, accommodations, etc.

 

Travel arrangements

Volunteers for digs in Israel are responsible for their own travel arrangements to and from Israel.

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Accommodations

Accommodations for volunteers vary greatly depending on the size of the expedition and the location of the site. Lodging can range from sleeping bags in the field to rooms at kibbutzim or nearby 3 star hotels.

Volunteers are usually required to pay a small charge for accomodations, though on some digs it is free. Digs taking place in or near a major city usually require volunteers to find their own accommodations in town.

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Clothing & equipment

For summer digs, some kind of head-covering is essential as the midday sun is extremely oppressive in Israel. Bring some warm clothing too, as even during the summer the nights can be cool.

Israel’s winters are very wet and cold. During winter digs, warm clothing and water-proof boots are require. All clothing for working at the dig site should be comfortable and sturdy, made for heavy work.

Useful equipment can include work gloves, sleeping bag, water canteen, towels and sunscreen.

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Hours

Work hours at a dig site vary according to the conditions, but a typical day begins before dawn and usually ends in the mid-afternoon. A rest break is provided around lunch time and afternoons and evenings are often devoted to lectures, additional work at the dig site or to the cleaning of artifacts discovered during the day’s dig. Evenings are usually free time for volunteers to relax and enjoy various activities.

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University credits

Many archeological expeditions offer credit courses from sponsoring institutions. Details concerning credit courses can be obtained by contacting the expedition director.

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Lectures

On most digs, members of the official expedition team offer informal evening lectures concerning the history and archeology of the site. Volunteers are free to attend these lectures, and should strongly consider doing so as they offer a good background concerning the site as well as information regarding the kind of work being done.

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Activities & excursions

Many expeditions take place near recreational facilities including swimming pools, beaches or parks. Other are held in or near major cities, offering diverse night time entertainment and excursions for volunteers.

In addition, most expeditions arrange for sightseeing and field trips to sites in the area of the dig as well as to various museums.

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Insurance

Volunteers are advised to arrange for full medical and accident insurance in advance. Even when accident insurance is provided by the expedition, it is usually minimal.

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Application & registration

An registration fee is usually required for any dig in Israel. Prospective volunteers should contact the expedition director directly or obtain a registration form from the expedition website.

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