Tel Zayit
We have not yet received information about 2012 excavations at this site. For more information, please contact the excavation organizers directly using the information below, at right.

Excavate Clues to the Time of King David

Tel Zayit (Arabic Zeitah, “Olive Tree”) lies in the Beth Guvrin Valley. It was part of the Libnah district of Biblical Judah and may be Libnah itself. Situated at the crossroads of four major ancient highways, Tel Zayit and its inhabitants were forced to interact with many other cultures. While most excavations in Israel focus on areas that were heavily populated, Zayit gives archaeologists the opportunity to study ancients who lived in a more rural setting.

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.

Zayit was occupied from the Middle Bronze Age to the Ottoman Empire, but it was a major city in the Late Bronze Age, when the Egyptians established a large administrative building at the site. Zayit continued to flourish into the Iron Age but the Assyrian king Sennacherib destroyed the town in 701 B.C. The site’s crucial strategic position also led the Romans to establish a major fort here during the first few centuries A.D.
In 2005, the Zayit excavations revealed the oldest known datable example of the linear alphabet—an abecedary from the 10th century B.C. During the upcoming season, dig director Ron Tappy plans to complete the excavation of the 10th-century levels near where the abecedary was found in hopes of revealing even more about this critical period in the region’s history.
During their stay with the dig, volunteers will live in a dorm-like setting at the comfortable Kibbutz Galon. There are evening lectures, guided weekend field trips and a large swimming pool at the kibbutz where staff and volunteers can relax in the afternoons.

Ron Tappy

Ron TappyDr. Ron Tappy is a professor of Bible and archaeology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, where he also serves as director of the James L. Kelso Bible Lands Museum. He is a specialist in the life and literature of the Old Testament period and has directed the Tel Zayit excavations since 1999.

Dig Directors

Ton Tappy

Geographic Location

1 hour southwest of Jerusalem

Periods of Occupation

Middle Bronze Age to Late Ottoman

Dates of the Dig

June 5-July 11, 2009

Minimum Stay

Five weeks

Application Due

May 5, 2009



Academic Credit/Cost per Credit/Institution

Yes (three to six credits), Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, $500 for 3 credits, $1000 for 6 credits


Kibbutz Galon


Ron E. Tappy
(412) 362-5610, ext 2167

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