On the Job at the Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavation

I just finished Day 3 on site at the Elah Fortress (aka Khirbet Qeiyafa) excavation. Today was not as tough as the previous days due to a combination of 1) a steady breeze that mitigated some of the summer temperature, 2) being able to work mostly in the shade, and 3) simply getting accustomed to the physical challenges of the work and heat.

Some interesting things have been found over the past couple of days. I won’t mention details unless I receive explicit permission from the archaeologists. They certainly have the right to control the flow of information from their own dig. In the meantime, here are a few glimpses of excavation life.


Archaeology: During excavation, it's mostly about removing dirt and rocks. Sometimes, really big rocks. Notice all of the full buckets that must be carried off and dumped, then brought back for refill.


The group on coffee break around 7:00 a.m. Monday morning. Even though it gets hot, the majority of workers wear pants (of some sort) to protect from the sun and from the rough ground. There are workers here from Israel, the U.S., Holland, Switzerland, Canada, Korea and Russia.

Working on a staircase.

Revealing ancient steps. The top one was revealed my first day on the job. Below the ground level in front of my right knee, I later discovered a large broken pottery jar with a big handle. The jar looked like it had fallen from the upper step area and broken on the ground.

Food Watch

The dig expedition is staying at a hostel in an observant Jewish village. Everything is kosher, which means:

  • No meat or dairy in the same meal. Our one daily meal with meat is lunch. So, no cheese, milk, yogurt or butter with lunch.
  • We eat our formal breakfast around 9:00 a.m. at the dig site, though we have a coffee & pastry break before this too. Breakfast includes fruit, cucumbers, olives and tuna. I might have also seen bell peppers.
  • The evening meal is at 8:00 p.m., and usually compensates for the dairy we missed at lunch. Sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. … may exist in abundance. Pasta is sometimes included with this meal. On Sunday night, we had a green olive pizza with cheese as an option.

About LukeChandler

Luke holds an M.A. in Ancient and Classical History and has been an adjunct professor at Florida College in Temple Terrace, Florida. Luke and his wife Melanie have five children. He serves as a minister in English and Spanish with the North Terrace Church of Christ and participates annually in archaeological excavations in Israel. Luke also leads tours to Europe and the Bible Lands.
This entry was posted in Biblical Archaeology, Culture & Cuisine, General Archaeology, Israel, Overseas trips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to On the Job at the Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavation

  1. Jennifer Hallberg says:

    “…simply getting accustomed to the physical challenges of the work and heat…”

    I can’t help but wonder if your time in Florida and travels throughout Colombia may have helped you get ready “for such a time as this”!

    I am so excited for you and your dad to be sharing this amazing opportunity together. Will be checking back for future updates. Thanks so much for sharing what you can!

  2. afrankangle says:

    Interesting how the volunteers are from all over the world … and probably even more interesting the the dialogue with them.

    ,,,, but tuna for breakfast?

  3. lukechandler says:

    The people are very interesting – a 65 year-old Human Resource Manager from Holland, a 17 year-old Korean-American whose family lives in Israel, a 30 year-old Korean who speak better Hebrew than English, an American-born Israeli college student who finished her mandatory military service a couple of years ago, a newywed (< 1 yr.) Israeli student who finished her military service just a few months ago, a 30 year-old Russian woman who is taking off work for the 2nd year in a row to work here, a 17 year-old High School senior from Indiana who is here by himself… the list goes on and one.
    The tuna is actually quite good! A yummy high protein breakfast in the field (with the bell peppers, cucumbers… the list goes on and on).

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