Biblical Archaeology Review 36:2, March/April 2010

Archaeological Views: How Archaeologists Decide Where to Dig

The case of Tel Burna

By Joe UzielItzick Shai

We have been friends for a long time. We got our Ph.D.s from Bar-Ilan University under the supervision of Professor Aren Maeir. For 12 seasons we have dug at the Philistine site of Gath (Tell es-Safi), an excavation that Maeir directs. The two of us have also codirected several smaller excavations together. We know that our professional chemistry is right. So we decided to look for a larger, long-term project together—a site where we could jointly direct the excavation.

Starting an archaeological excavation is an exciting but challenging endeavor. How to choose a site? How to plan its excavation? How to navigate the bureaucratic process that ultimately leads to an excavation permit? How to raise the money? How to enlist staff and volunteers? (This latter is made a lot easier, however, by BAR’s Dig Issue and Digs Web site.)

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