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News Release

Group from Moravian to join Archaeological Dig in Israel

Professors and students to excavate Ramat Rachel, a site between ancient Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Israel.

Bethlehem, Pa., July 16, 2009—Two professors will lead a group of students from Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary to help excavate Ramat Rachel, a remarkable site between ancient Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Israel.  They will join with student groups from Tel Aviv University, Heidelberg University, and other institutions to work on the site.  Deborah Appler, associate professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, Moravian Theological Seminary, and Jason Radine, assistant professor of Hebrew Bible and Judaism in the Department of Religion, Moravian College, will be leading the group on the excavation from July 19 to August16. They will be joined by 7 students from the College, 6 students from the Seminary, and 4 people from the community (including relatives of some of the other participants).

“Both the students and non-student participants will gain a rare opportunity to not just learn how new discoveries are made in the field of the archaeology of ancient Israel and Judah, but to actually participate in making those discoveries,” said Professor Radine, who along with Appler will  be teaching classes during their visit. “Some of the participants will be taking courses for Tel Aviv University transfer credit on archaeological field methods, the controversies involving the history of Jerusalem, and theological perspectives on Jerusalem,” he explained.  

The program combines archaeological experience, coursework, and tours of sites sacred to three religions throughout Israel. “In addition to archaeology, the location of this site on the southern border of the modern city of Jerusalem, towards Bethlehem, will allow participants to have ready access to some of the holiest sites in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,” Radine noted.  “These will include the Western Wall (remnant of Herod’s Temple, most sacred site in Judaism), Church of the Holy Sepulcher (a supposed site for Jesus’ crucifixion and burial), and the Dome of the Rock (site of the ancient Judean temple, and sacred site in Islam).  Outside of Jerusalem, the students will be taking tours of the Galilee region (including Nazareth and Capernaum), and the Dead Sea (including Qumran, where the ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ were discovered, and Masada, site of the last stand of Jewish resistance against Rome in the 66-73 AD war).”

During April of this year, Professor Oded Lipschits from the Institute of Archaeology, Tel Aviv University, visited Moravian to prepare students participating in the archaeological excavation.

The Ramat Rachel Archaeological Project is a joint project of Tel Aviv University (Israel) and Heidelberg University (Germany), which works with scholars from Israel, Germany, and the United States. The site is located within the international 1947–48 border of Israel, in the western part of Kibbutz Ramat Rahel, on a hilltop (818 m above sea level), about midway between the Old City of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. This site was inhabited since the last century of the kingdom of Judah (7th century BCE) until the early Muslim reign in Palestine (10th century CE). For a detailed description, visit: http://www.ramatrachel.co.il/ARCHEOLOGY/summary.htm

For more information contact Dr. Jason Radine (radine@moravian.edu) or Dr. Deborah Appler (dappler@moravian.edu).

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America’s sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at http://www.moravian.edu/.