When embarking upon an archaeological expedition in Israel, volunteers often have a number of questions that relate to travel dates, airport arrival, payments, our cancellation policy, their time in Israel, and departure.
To make this information more freely available, we have answered a number of frequently asked questions. If, however, you are unable to find your answer here or elsewhere on the website, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To discover more about life during the season, download our Azekah Information Pack.
Q. I’ve never excavated before, what should I expect?
The Azekah Expedition is an international excavation project that attracts students, scholars and volunteers from across the globe! For four weeks, we spend our time in the lowlands of Israel, excavating the ancient site of Tel Azekah.
The general plan for each week involves being collected from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem at the start of the week (Sunday afternoon), heading to the site for orientation and a few hours of excavation. The team stay together at a local kibbutz and enjoy our meals, lectures and other events there. At the end of the week, you are dropped back in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
No experience or specialist equipment is needed to excavate! Our excavation is designed to guide you through the process, no matter if you’re a beginner or an expert!
Q: Where do we stay on the weekends?
During the weekend (Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon), team members are required to find their own accommodation. You are welcome to stay anywhere in Israel, but the excavation transportation will only drop volunteers in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. You will be dropped near central transport hubs though so you can easily travel to other areas of Israel.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to stay at Netiv Ha-Lamed He over the weekend so please be sure to organise your accommodation in advance. The excavation assumes no responsibility for any plans arranged outside of the excavation working week.
You are welcome to contact our staff at Azekah.email@example.com for accommodation recommendations.
Q: Will we get more information on the full schedule, transport meeting points and excavation events?
Yes! Every year, we create a comprehensive Information Pack that includes the season schedule, meeting locations, equipment list and more! This will be sent out to team members in June. You can have a look at an example from last season here
Q: Is there an age limit on volunteering to excavate?
We do accept volunteers of all ages! If you are under the age of 15, you must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Volunteers aged 16-17 will need their legal guardian to sign an excavation consent form.
For all other volunteers, age is not a problem! We only ask that you are physically and mentally able to participate. If you require certain accommodations to join us, please reach out to Azekah.firstname.lastname@example.org so we can ensure you have the best experience!
Q: I have dietary requirements, what is the food like?
Team members are treated to local Israeli food, prepared fresh by local caters. You can expect a range of different food but most meals consist of various salads, meat (mainly chicken, beef or fish), hummus and tahini, various carbohydrates (pita, pasta, rice) and some sweet snacks. All meals are Kosher.
We also offer vegetarian and vegan options with all meals but you should let us know in advance as they are made to order. Our caterers can also make special meals for those with food allergies but again, let us know in advance!
Q: What are the rooms like? Can I request roommates?
Rooms are designed to house up to five people and are fully equipped with air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom, and storage. A communal kitchen is also available for you to make coffee and grab a quick snack!
You can request a roommate when you register or feel free to email us at email@example.com with your request. We will do our best to accommodate your request, but in some cases, it may not be possible.
Rooms are gender segregated so it will not be possible to room men and women in any case. Private rooms are also not available.
Q: Can I request an area to dig in or people to dig with?
You are absolutely welcome to contact us with your preferences on where to dig. This is especially important if you have any physical limitations as some areas are more difficult to traverse than others.
You are also welcome to request staff members or other volunteers you would like to work with. We will do our best to accommodate your request, but in some cases, it may not be possible.
Requests can be made when you register or emailed later to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travelling To and From Israel
Q: When should I arrive in Israel?
Each new week of the excavation begins on a Sunday afternoon. As such, we strongly recommend that you plan your arrival in Israel for before your scheduled start date. This affords you some time to adjust to any time zone changes, settle in, and ensures that you will be able to meet the Sunday bus before it departs for the excavation (around 15:00).
If you’re arriving on the weekend, please be aware that public transport is extremely limited on Shabbat (Friday evening to Saturday evening). There are some free buses that run on Shabbat in certain cities, but trains will not run. Taxis will run over Shabbat and can be easily called using the app Gett.
Q: What are my transport options from the airport?
Depending on your day of arrival, you will be able to take a train or taxi from the airport. The train costs around 15NIS/$4USD depending on the distance while taxis can cost around 200NIS/$55USD to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. Be sure to follow the signs in the airport to dedicated taxis as they are legally required to charge by the meter.
Remember, if you are arriving on Shabbat, a taxi may be your only option.
Q: Do I need any documents to enter Israel?
Most citizens are able to enter Israel without a pre-arranged visa (for exceptions, click here) and will be granted a 3-month tourist visa upon landing at Ben Gurion Airport.
All foreign citizens are required to go through extensive security where you will be questioned on your plans in Israel. To help ease this process, the excavation will provide you with a letter signed by our director, Professor Oded Lipschits, explaining your presence in Israel. Be sure to print this letter and present it to immigration when you arrive in Israel.
If you have any concerns about your arrival in Israel, please contact Azekah.email@example.com
Q: When should I book my flights back home?
As with any arrivals in Israel, the excavation does not provide any transport directly to the airport. The bus will return you to either Tel Aviv or Jerusalem (your preference) on the Friday afternoon of your final registered week at the dig. We recommend heading to Tel Aviv as there is a direct train to the airport.
The bus returns to Tel Aviv or Jerusalem around 14:00 but can sometimes be caught in traffic. As such, if you choose to leave Israel on your final day, we strongly recommend you fly later at night. This way you can ensure that you will be able to arrive at the airport and travel through security with time to make your flight.
Payment and Cancellation
Q: When do I have to pay for the excavation?
Invoices are sent out in May and will include all the details on how to pay. Currently, we accept credit card, bank transfer and cheque.
Final payment is due by the first day of the season, but we do offer flexible payment plans if needed. For more information, contact Azekah.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that the excavation is not responsible for any transfer fees and your registration may be cancelled if the full cost is not paid by the start of the season.
Q: What does my payment cover?
The excavation cost covers:
- Accommodation at Netiv Ha-Lamed He Sunday night through to Friday afternoon (for the duration of your registration)
- Food (3 meals a day, as well as Morning Tea, Afternoon Tea)
- Weekly tours to local archaeological sites (every Tuesday),
- Access to guest lectures
- Transport from and from Tel Aviv/Jerusalem to the excavation each week
- Daily transportation to and from the site
- Equipment and facility access
- Excavation merch!
The excavation cost does not cover your flights to or from Israel or your weekend accommodation/food.
Q: Is there any financial assistance available?
We understand that excavating can be a costly endeavour so we are always advertising scholarships and travel grants that can help make your excavation dream a reality! More information on currently available scholarships can be found here.
Q: Do I incur a fee if I cancel my registration?
We completely understand that life can change suddenly and force people to cancel their excavation reservation. As a result, there are a few different times in the year that volunteers can cancel.
Cancellation before invoices are sent: Free
Cancellation before June 30: A full refund, minus a $50 USD registration and banking fee.
Cancellation after June 30: A full refund, minus a $200 cancellation fee for each week, and a $50 USD registration and banking fee.
Cancellation during the season, or without announcement, will receive no refund.