Perched 117 m above the rolling hills of the Judean lowlands (Shephelah) sits Azekah, in antiquity one of the main towns and the regional center of the fertile plains of the magnificent Valley of Elah. For millennia, Azekah flourished and grew, benefiting from both its rich natural and strategic location on one of the main routes leading from the coastal plain to Jerusalem and the south.
A century after Bliss and Macalister’s excavation, our team is now beginning to unearth biblical Tel Azekah (Click here for the history of Azekah). Join us as we excavate the Judahite stronghold that the mighty Assyrian king Sennacherib called “an eagle’s nest…with towers that project to the sky like swords”; the Azekah that 100 years later, once again was an important Judahite border-stronghold, mentioned by the garrison at Lachish that cried out probably at the time of its capture by the Babylonians in 586 BCE: “We cannot see any more the fire-signals of Azekah”; the Azekah of the valley below that is remembered in cultural memory as the arena of the battle between the boy David as he confronted the giant Goliath. Another glorious page of Azekah’s history took place in the Hasmonean period, at the top of the mound. The late 19th century excavation partly unearthed a massive fortress built by the great Hasmonean king, John Hyrcanus I. But due to restrictions at the time, the British excavators had to backfill their project. Now it’s our turn to re-discover their work, and to dig deeper, using modern techniques and expertise (Click here for the expedition).
We’ll be starting to dig on July 12th and we’ll be at it for a six-week season!