Khirbet er-Rai

Border Town Between Judah and Philistia

Khirbet er-Rai is a small, rather unknown site, located in the Judean Shephelah of Israel, 3 km west to Tel Lachish, near the modern city of Kiryat Gath. Our attention was drawn to the site after a surface survey conducted by S. Ganor uncovered pottery sherds of the types known from our previous excavations at the early 10th century B.C.E. site of Khirbet Qeiyafa. As the early 10th century B.C.E. in the area of Judah is poorly known and much debated, we decided to examine the site and to see if it is a suitable place for long-term field project. In this way three short seasons took place at the site in 2015, 2016, and 2017, with a total of 23 days in the field.

Biblical Archaeology: From the Ground Down

How does a dig team work? What do archaeologists look for at a dig? In this documentary DVD, learn how excavators work and what we can learn from archaeology. More information.

Khirbet er-Rai is located about a day’s walk south of Khirbet Qeiyafa and about a day’s walk west of Hebron. It sits opposite the Philistine city of Ashkelon on the western edge of the Shephelah and on the border between Judah and Philistia, controlling the road running through the Lachish Valley. This geopolitical location is similar to that of Khirbet Qeiyafa, which sits opposite the Philistine city of Gath (Tell es-Safi) and controls the road running through the Elah Valley.

Yosef Garfinkel

Yosef Garfinkel is Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Dig Directors

Yosef Garfinkel

Geographic Location

Judean Shephelah, 3 km west of Lachish

Periods of Occupation

Iron Age I, Iron Age IIA (12th–10th centuries B.C.E.)

Dates of the Dig

Winter season: January 28–February 15, 2018; Summer season: July 1–July 20, 2018

Minimum Stay

Two weeks

Application Due

May 1, 2018


$450/week — airfare not included

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

3 credits; $120 registration fee + $150/credit; awarded by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


Participants will stay at the Midreset Hadarom Hostel in Neta Mirsim village. There will be 4 volunteers per room with air conditioning, bathroom, and shower. Kosher food available.


Yosef Garfinkel
Institute of Archaeology
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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