Kiriath-Jearim and the Archaeology of Jerusalem

  • TAU: 3 undergraduate credits
  • TAU: 3 graduate credits

Instructor of Record: Professor Israel Finkelstein (Tel Aviv University)

Co-Instructors: Professor Thomas Römer (Collège de France), Professor Christophe Nicolle (Collège de France)

This course will survey selected topics within the archaeology and history of Judah, generally, and the region around Jerusalem, including the site of Kiriath-jearim, specifically. Lectures and readings will address both material from the archaeological record and historical conclusions, as well as examination of biblical texts with regional and thematic relevance. Lectures constitute the majority of class meetings, but given the nature of excavation life, students will have many informal opportunities to interact with the directors and other lectures during the work days.

Course Materials:

Readings listed on the syllabus will be made available electronically. Details will be sent to students prior to the beginning of the season. Bringing a bible (Hebrew or translation) is not required, but may be useful. Of course, biblical texts are readily available online.

Requirements for all registered students:

  1. Complete all assigned readings before class time and be prepared to use them in discussion as appropriat
  2. Attend and be engaged at all class meetings.
  3. Successfully complete a final examination.

Course Assessment for Undergraduate Credit:

Final Exam=50% of final grade

Appropriate academic participation=50% of final grade. Appropriate participation includes:

  • Attendance at all class meetings
  • Active listening in lecture and thoughtful participation in discussions
  • Overall appropriate personal and academic conduct in accordance with the rules of the Expedition

Course Assessment for Graduate Credit:

Students wishing to receive graduate credit for this course must complete all the above requirements AND write a research paper of 3000-4000 words on a selected topic touching on historic, archaeological and/or biblical issues related to Jerusalem and/or Kiriath-jearim, specifically, or Judah more broadly.  Students writing the research paper will confer with one or more of the instructors during the course to finalize an approved topic, and address other technical questions regarding this assignment. The papers will be due approximately one month after the end of the dig. 

WEEK 1: Orienting KJ within its geographic, historical and literary settings
Day Event Instructor Description Preparation Prior to Meeting


Class Meeting #1

Tel Tour

Time TBA

Directors The Directors will lead a study tour of the site, orienting participants, and addressing the research agenda. None
TUES Class Meeting #2

8:00pm Lecture



Römer Professor Thomas Römer will investigate the site of Kiriath-Jearim, and give an overview over of the biblical Ark tradition. Readings:

F. Cooke, The site of Kirjat Jearim and J. Blenkinsopp, Kiriath Jearim and the Ark



Class Meeting #3

8:00pm Lecture


Finkelstein Professor Israel Finkelstein will discuss the geographical history of the Judean highlands and the land of Benjamin and will orient Kiriath-jearim within its larger setting. Readings:

N. Na’aman, The Kingdom of Judah under Josiah– Read pages 5-33.




Class Meeting #4



Tentatively 5:30pm

Cohen Dr. Margaret Cohen will meet with students to review course requirements as well as provide discussion opportunities regarding the material covered thus far.  

General Review

Class Meeting #5

8:00pm Lecture


Koch Dr. Ido Koch will provide some background and recent scholarly developments on the search for the early Philistines. Readings:

Maeir and Hitchcock,The Appearance, Formation and Transformation of Philistine Culture: New Perspectives and New Finds


WEEK 2: History, Culture, and Archaeology of Judah, Part I
Day Event Instructor Description Preparation Prior to Meeting


Class Meeting #6

8:00pm Lecture


Sergi Biblical Traditions of David (tentative description) Readings:


TUES Class Meeting #7

8:00pm Lecture:


Römer Professor Römer will discuss the Ark Narrative from the books of Samuel in detail. Readings:

P-D. Miller and J.J.M. Roberts, The hand of the Lord. A reassessment of the Ark Narrative



Class Meeting #8



Tentatively 5:30

Cohen Students will have opportunity for discussion on topics covered thus far in lecture or in readings.  

General Review

Class Meeting #9

8:00pm Lecture


Finkelstein Professor Finkelstein will review the history and archaeology of Judah in the Bronze Age. The discussion will make special reference to the Amarna Age and will delve into issues surrounding this particular era. Readings:

Finkelstein, The Shephelah and Jerusalem’s Western Border in the Amarna Period




Class Meeting #10

8:00pm Lecture


A. Kleiman Field Supervisor and TAU PhD candidate Assaf Kleiman will address selected issues relating to the archaeology of Jerusalem and Judah in the Iron IIA. Has King David palace being found? Does the fortified settlement at Khirbet Qeiyafa confirm the existence of the United Monarchy? Readings:

 Mazar, Jerusalem in the 10th Century B.C.E.: The Glass Half Full


Finkelstein, Jerusalem in the Iron Age: Archaeology and Text; Reality and Myth.



WEEK 3: History, Culture,  and Archaeology of Judah, Part II
Day Event Instructor Description Preparation Prior to Meeting


Class Meeting #11



Tentatively 5:30

Gadot Dr. Yuval Gadot will present the results of current excavations in Jerusalem and discus their impace on our understanding of Jerusalem’s growth during the Iron IIB Readings:

Regev, et al. Absolute Dating of the Gihon Spring Fortifications, Jerusalem



Class Meeting #12

8:00pm Lecture:


Cohen Students will have opportunity for discussion on topics covered thus far and will be given information regarding the final exam. General Review
Class Meeting #13

8:00pm Lecture:


S. Kleiman TAU PhD student, Sabine Kleiman will speak about cult spaces in Judah in this lecture entitled, Systematic Abolishment or Honoring the Past? The End of Sanctuaries in Judah and Its Possible Interpretations. Readings:

Finkelstein and Silberman, Temple and Dynasty: Hezekiah, the Remaking of Judah and the Rise of the Pan-Israelite Ideology


Kisilevitz, The Iron IIA Judahite Temple at Tel Moza




Class Meeting #14

6:00 Lecture:

Three week Conclusions



Directors In this lecture, the Directors will discuss observations from the excavations thus far this season, and will share any conclusions that have been established at this point.  

General Review

Class Meeting #15


Finkelstein Yehud/Judea: biblical texts and archaeology Readings:


Finkelstein, The Territorial Extent and Demography of Yehud-Judea in the Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods

THURS Class Meeting #16


Tentatively 6:00pm


Cohen Students will sit for written exam. Study lecture notes and readings!