Mt. Zion

Excavate Historic Jerusalem

Have you ever dreamed of excavating within sight of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, just minutes away from more than 3,000 years of fabled history and lore? If so, you might want to volunteer to work on the new Mount Zion excavations in Jerusalem, taking place just outside the Ottoman-era walls of the Old City.

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.

Two thousand years ago, the area of the Mount Zion excavations was well within the city walls of Jerusalem and bustling with activity. The area was situated at the end of the city’s great main street, the cardo maximus, and recent excavations here have revealed the incredibly well preserved houses of some of Jerusalem’s wealthiest families of the first century C.E. Fortunately for archaeologists, the construction of the massive Nea Church during the Byzantine period required much of the Mount Zion area to be artificially raised and leveled, meaning that many of these first century houses were safely preserved beneath construction fill.
This summer, you can help dig directors Shimon Gibson and James Tabor uncover the remains of these Roman-era houses, many with their painted walls and high vaulted ceilings still intact. In addition, excavate what appears to be a Byzantine period building along with a new area with early Islamic levels in the western portion of the site.
Shimon Gibson/James D. Tabor

Shimon Gibson

British archaeologist Shimon Gibson is the co-director of the Mt. Zion dig. He is a Fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeology, director of archaeology at the University of the Holy Land, and an adjunct Professor at UNC Charlotte. Dr. Gibson has excavated dozens of sites in Israel and Palestine including the “John the Baptist” cave at Suba, Tell el-Ful as well as Mt Zion. His latest book is The Final Days of Jesus: The Archaeological Evidence (HarperOne, 2009).

James D. Tabor

James D. Tabor is Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where he has taught since 1989. He is a historian of ancient Judaism and earliest Christianity. He has excavated at Sepphoris, Suba, and Mt Zion. His most recent books are The Jesus Discovery, with co-author Simcha Jacobovici (Simon & Schuster 2012) on the Talpiot “Jesus” tombs, and Paul and Jesus: How the Apostles Transformed Christianity (Simon & Schuster, 2012).

Dig Directors

Shimon Gibson
James Tabor

Geographic Location

Central Jerusalem/Old City

Periods of Occupation

Early Roman to Ottoman

Dates of the Dig

June 17 – 29, 2017 (1st session);
July 2 – 7 (interim week touring and lectures for all);
July 8 –20 (2nd Session)

Minimum Stay

Two weeks (one session)

Application Due

May 1, 2017


New volunteers: $500 dig fee per two week session; returning participants $400 per two week session; those staying three or four weeks pay $200 per week dig fee; interim week no dig fee (tours at cost; lectures free)

Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Undergraduate students at any accredited U.S. college or university can also apply to be part of the UNC Charlotte Education Abroad group and receive 3 semester hours academic transfer credit. Contact Dr. James D. Tabor for more information on costs and course requirements (


Special rates in local Jerusalem hotels inside the Old City and near the dig site. Reservations arranged through once application is approved.


Dr. James Tabor
Dept. of Religious Studies
UNC Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28223
Contact Dr.Tabor for general information.
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Open for tours

Yes - by appointment