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Archaeological Digs

Because of the generous support of an anonymous donor, each year, 5 to 10 students are able travel to Israel to participate in digs at Jezreel or Megiddo. In addition to the experience of the dig, students receive instruction and attend lectures throughout their time on the site. Most students also take one or two of the courses offered by the excavations which they can then transfer graduate credit back to Vanderbilt from the University of Tel Aviv (for Megiddo) or the University of Haifa (for Jezreel). Income from the proposed endowment would supplement travel, room and board, and tuition.

This program has excelled under the leadership of Douglas Knight, Drucilla Moore Buffington Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies. Professor Knight has participated in many archeological digs himself and has been the chief organizer of the program for the Divinity School which is now a member of the international consortia supporting the Megiddo and Jezreel excavations. In 2015, Professor Knight will retire after 42 years of teaching and service. Professor Herbert R. Marbury, who has participated in the Megiddo dig, will assume the organizational role.

If you are interested in pursuing these opportunities, contact Professor Marbury at

The Megiddo Expedition

The Megiddo Expedition is undertaken under the auspices of Tel Aviv University, in conjunction with The George Washington University as Senior Consortium Member and Chapman University, Gettysburg College, Loyola Marymount University, Vanderbilt University, University of Oklahoma and Jezreel Valley Regional Project (JVRP) as Consortium Members. The Expedition is directed by Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University) and Eric Cline (The George Washington University). Megiddo is the jewel in the crown of biblical archaeology. Strategically perched above the most important land route in the ancient Near East, the city dominated international traffic for over 6,000 years — from ca. 7,000 B.C.E. through to biblical times. As civilizations came and went, succeeding settlements at ancient Megiddo were built on the ruins of their predecessors, creating a multi-layered archaeological legacy that abounds in unparalleled treasures that include monumental temples, lavish palaces, mighty fortifications, and remarkably engineered water systems. 

The Jezreel Expedition

The Jezreel Expedition is sponsored by the University of Evansville and the Zinman Institute of Archaeology at the University of Haifa; with consortium members the University of Arizona, Chapman University, Vanderbilt University and Villanova University. “Jezreel, the site famously connected in the Bible with the evil King Ahab and his scheming wife, Jezebel, has lain unattended by archaeologists for many years,” said Douglas Knight, the Drucilla Moore Buffington Professor of Hebrew Bible and professor of Jewish Studies in the College of Arts and Science. “The area in which the excavators worked played important political and economic roles in biblical times and is located in one of the most picturesque and strategic valley regions of Israel.” Knight and six students from Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion worked with an archaeological team that reopened the site in summer 2013 to discover more about the history and culture of ancient Israel.

VDS Voices blog post, The Jezreel Experience by Rhonda Siggers, MDiv'15

JEZREEL                                                                                                                                                           Photo Credit: Noga Blockman