Israel - Archaeological Field School (Horvat Midras)

CNRS 335 or CNRS 535 | 3 credits

Apply by December 5, 2019

  1. Log in to the Gateway online application program
  2. Select “Search Experiences” and type "GSP" to explore Global Seminars programs
  3. Upload the application form for your selected Global Seminar – see Application documents below

Please note that you can apply for up to a maximum of 2 Global Seminars.

Students are encouraged to meet with the Program Director at an orientation session or one-on-one to learn more about the program.


About the course

This course is led by UBC faculty member Gregg Gardner

This course will train students in the principles and methods of field archaeology as practiced in the Mediterranean and Near East today by participating in the excavation of Horvat Midras in Israel. This course will also provide students with an understanding of the archaeology of ancient Palestine, with special attention to the Hellenistic and Roman eras (323 B.C.E. to 640 C.E.). It will include fieldwork, guided study trips to other archaeological sites in the area, visits to archaeological museums, and lectures.

Horvat Midras is a site located in Israel approximately 45 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem. Previous small-scale salvage excavations have shown that the site was one of the largest and wealthiest rural sites in the Judaean Foothills during the Roman period. The site features the remains of Jewish, Christian, and Roman communities. It also includes several underground passageways and unique tombs – including one marked by a magnificent pyramid as well as a rare example of a “rolling stone” tomb-like that mentioned in the New Testament.

Settlement at the site began in the Persian era (fourth century B.C.E.). Our excavations this season aim to illuminate the socio-economic and ethnic character of the region just before and after its conquest in the second century B.C.E. by the Hasmoneans. Also known as the Maccabees (literally, “hammers”), the Hasmoneans were a dynasty of Jewish military and political leaders whose victories over the Greeks are still celebrated today in the Jewish holiday of Hanukah. In particular, we hope to clarify the settlement patterns of the Idumeans (pagans who later converted to Judaism) and ethnic Jews in the area. Based on the identification of the site with ancient Drusias, named after Drusus of the family of the Roman Emperor Augustus, scholars have suggested that the site was populated by the Idumean elite, including, perhaps, the family of King Herod the Great – a prominent king of ancient Palestine in the first century B.C.E. who is mentioned in the New Testament and famous for enlarging the Temple and Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Herod may have initiated a construction project in Horvat Midras during his reign. Later and up until the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome (the so-called “Bar Kokhba Revolt” from 132–135 C.E.) the site was a thriving large village with many agricultural installations. The inhabitants actively participated in the Second Revolt and the site was abandoned following the failure of the revolt. Our excavation seeks to help clarify the identities of those who re-settled the site as well as when and why they did so. By the fourth century C.E. the village was thriving again and in the fifth century, the population was predominantly Christian, as the site featured a large basilica church with magnificent mosaics built at its northern edge. The excavation at the site will focus on the remains of the early Roman settlement, a post-Second Revolt public building (possibly a Roman temple), two private dwellings, an underground ritual bath (miqveh) and cistern, and an elaborate system of underground hiding tunnels and caves used by the Jewish rebels during the Second Revolt against Rome. This project will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Students will be doing more than just digging. Rather, students will contribute directly to the research goals and create new scholarly knowledge. By excavating, recording, processing, and identifying new archaeological finds, students will contribute towards the discovery, collection, and interpretation of new sources on the ancient world. Students’ participation in this course will directly enhance our knowledge of the history and material culture of the ancient Near East. Students’ work in this course will help shed new light on questions of continuity and change along with the turbulent history of this region. The coursework will also illuminate the region’s rural settlement patterns – a topic often overlooked and under-studied as scholars tend to focus on urban sites. In many ways, students’ work in this course will shed new light on the history of the region at a crucial moment in the life of the Roman empire and during the formative ages of Judaism and Christianity

About the experience

Students will excavate the site of Horvat Midras, in Israel, whose finds date to the late Hellenistic and early Roman era (c. third century BCE to second century CE). We will spend the mornings excavating the site – which includes a Roman temple, domestic dwellings, monumental burial tombs, ritual bath, and underground caves and tunnels used by the Jewish rebels in their two revolts against Rome. Following lunch, on most days we will take field trips to other archaeological sites in the area. Most evenings will feature lectures, including by professors from Israeli universities. There will also be free time at the kibbutz, which has a swimming pool. The weekends feature longer field trips to Masada, Ein Gedi, the Dead Sea; Tel-Aviv; and a two-day study tour of Jerusalem.

Locations visited:

Horvat Midras, Bet Guvrin, Maresha, Tel Lachish, and other archaeological sites in the area.

Day trips to:

Jerusalem (2 days), Masada, Ein Gedi, Dead Sea, Tel-Aviv

A typical day might include:


Local field trips


Notable environmental conditions

Hot weather. Physical activity (archaeological excavation). Lots of walking and hiking.


Accommodations will be provided at Kibbutz Beit Guvrin. A kibbutz is a collective farm that is cooperatively owned and managed by its members. At the kibbutz, students will be housed in dormitories. Please note that accommodations are very basic: three or four individuals will share a room, with shared washrooms at the end of the hall. The kibbutz is an approximately 15-minute drive to the excavation site at Horvat Midras. Transportation between the kibbutz and the excavation site will be provided. More details on the accommodations will be provided at our pre-departure orientation meetings at UBC.

General timeline

Please note that you are expected to attend 3 pre-departure meetings with lectures by Dr. Gardner before departure. Dates to be determined. 

Program dates: July 12-31, 2020 * new dates

ARA Funding

This is an Arts Research Abroad (ARA) funded program. ARA is a funding body made of the Faculty of Arts – Dean’s Office, anonymous donors and Go Global that supports research intensive Global Seminars.

The ARA program offsets the cost to students for participation in an ARA course.  70% of the cost may be offset for academically qualified students;  and up to 100% of the cost may be offset for academically qualified students who demonstrate financial need (as determined by Enrolment Services).  The ARA program does not fund course development costs; faculty salaries; costs related to tuition, textbooks, course materials, visas, and vaccinations; or personal expenses incurred by students.

Students are automatically considered for the ARA funding.  Separate application not required.

For more details, please see the Eligibility and Fees and costs section.


To be accepted for this Global Seminar, you have to meet both program-specific requirements as well as ARA eligibility criteria.

Program-specific requirements:

There are no pre-requisites for CNRS 335 and CNRS 535

Please note, CNERS majors can receive a maxium of 6 credits for CNRS 335 and CNERS MA students can receive a maximum of 3 credits for CNRS 535.  Please contact the CNERS advising office if you are unsure whether or not you can receive credit for this Global Seminar.  

ARA eligibility

Be enrolled in UBC Vancouver’s Faculty of Arts.

Be in their third, fourth, or final year of study.

Be enrolled in at least 24 credits in the academic year before the program

Must be registered in 24 credits in the current academic year, or sufficient to graduate

Have a minimum GPA of 70% with no fails or incompletes.

Students can only be considered for one major International Learning Award throughout their degree e.g. ARA (Arts Research Abroad) funded Global Seminars, Undergraduate Research Conference. 

Program fees and costs

This course has received an Arts Research Abroad ("ARA") Award that will benefit UBC undergraduate students in Arts by significantly reducing the cost of the program fee and flight.

UBC undergraduate students in Arts will pay: CAD $1,050 to $1,200 + tuition + partial flight

UBC undergraduate students in Arts who demonstrate financial need as determined by Enrolment services will pay: CAD $0 + tuition

All other students will pay the full cost: CAD $3,500 to $4,000 + tuition + flight

Program fee includes Program fee DOES NOT include
Accommodation Tuition*
Program-related travel Flight*
Program-related excursions Incidentals*
Meals *depending on program
Go Global fee ($415.00)

*UBC Tuition - Not included. Part of your costs

This amount will differ for domestic and international students. This amount will be assigned to you on the Student Service Centre (SSC) according to normal UBC tuition timelines. Read about tuition fees.

This amount is not determined or applied by Go Global.

All students participating in a Global Seminar will have tuition applied to their SSC account.

*Flights - Not Included. Part of your costs

Travel to your destination is a separate cost. You are responsible for arranging your own travel. You should not book your flight until you are notified to book. All Global Seminars only run if there is a minimum number of students enrolled.

*Incidentals - Not Included. Part of your costs

Some examples include personal mobile communication, personal transportation that is not related to the learning outcomes of the program, additional meals that are not already identified as part of the program fee, immunizations, Visas, etc.

Please contact a Global Seminar Advisor if you have questions about the program fee. Connecting early with an Enrolment Service Advisor will also be helpful in order to plan for your trip.

Global seminars refund policy

Adjustment on deposits

Students are eligible for an adjustment of their deposit under the following circumstances:

Withdrawal after you accept your spot in the program

  • You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $93.25 (ie: you receive a $656.75 credit)

Withdrawal after deposit posted on SSC

  • You are eligible to have your Global Seminar deposit adjusted from $750 to $321.75 (ie: you receive a $428.25 credit)

Withdrawal after deposit due date

  • The deposit and all remaining program fees are completely non-refundable. Exceptions may be determined at the discretion of Go Global. 

Any funds allocated to students through the ARA program must be returned in their entirety.

Students who decide to withdraw their application must submit a request in writing by email to the Global Seminar Advisor at


If you are considering applying for a Go Global program and identify with having a disability or pre-existing health condition (mental or physical) which could impact your participation, or if you require academic accommodations, you can contact the following offices and meet with an Accessibility Advisor before the start of the program:

The Centre for Accessibility (Vancouver) 604 822-5844

Disability Resource Centre (Okanagan) 250 807-8053

Pre-departure policy

Safety Abroad

UBC is committed to preparing students for safe and successful international experiences. In order to achieve this, any student participating in a Go Global Program must complete the following:

  • All UBC Student Safety Abroad requirements
  • Go Global Program-specific pre-departure requirements (includes both online and in-person components)

Failure to successfully complete these and any other requirements may result in withdrawal from the Go Global Program.


Global Seminars Advisor

Student Advising

Drop in advising - Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00-3:00pm

Please email with your student number in the subject line.

Global Seminars Advisor

Telephone: 604 822 0942

Fax: 604 822 9885

UBC Life Building
6138 Student Union Blvd
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1


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