Digging Deep

Yeshiva University Students Excavate Biblical Hometown of Goliath on Israel Summer Course

Spending the hottest days of Israeli summer digging through gravel and topsoil isn’t easy—but Meredith Shapiro is loving every minute of it.

Students x, Meredith Shapiro, Y and Professor Jill Katz are excavating the Biblical city of Gath.
Students Moses Dyckman, Meredith Shapiro, Rebecca Zami and Professor Jill Katz are excavating the Biblical city of Gath.

The Sy Syms School of Business senior is one of three Yeshiva University undergraduates working with Dr. Jill C. Katz, clinical assistant professor of archeology, to excavate the Biblical city of Gath, hometown of the infamous Goliath, during a summer course in Israel.

“It has honestly been the best experience,” said Shapiro. “Getting the opportunity to uncover the mysteries of the past with your own hands is indescribably rewarding.”

dig4The students gain practical experience in the recovery and analysis of material remains and learn how finds are used by archaeologists and historians to gain new insights into biblical history. They participate in all aspects of the excavation process: digging, sifting, washing, sorting, and analysis. In the afternoons and evenings, their hands-on learning is supplemented by field trips and lectures.

“The dig gives students a chance to engage in primary research as part of a large international team while at the same time gaining a deeper appreciation for the Land of Israel and its history,” said Katz.

dig2We went from rocky sloped topsoil that looked like nothing special to a well-defined archaeological site,” said Shapiro. “Pottery, flint blades, bucket lines, walls—who would have thought that we would find all that in a mere five days? Our hypothesis is that the fortification walls of the upper city lie within area J, which is the area the YU team is working on alongside students from Bar Ilan University. We have made so many discoveries and being able to achieve so much in the first few days was just incredible.”

Pottery shards like this one are some of the many exciting artifacts students have found at the site.
Pottery shards like this one are some of the many exciting artifacts students have found at the site.

The course is part of the Center for Israel Studies’ Arts Festival, which celebrates the land and culture of Israel.