Archaeological Excavations in Israel

The Antiquities Authority is appointed by the Law of Antiquities (1978) to issue excavation licenses to qualified, experienced archaeologists, working on behalf of a recognized academic archaeological institute that assumes scientific, administrative and financial responsibility for the excavation. The excavation itself is the first activity in a long, arduous course, followed by the processing and studying of the finds, and concluding with a suitable scientific publication of the entire excavation.

The IAA Director-General issues an excavation license after consulting with the Licensing Committee, a subcommittee of the Archaeological Council. Excavations in Israel are initiated for the purpose of research by both foreign and Israeli institutions, including the IAA. In addition, salvage excavations are legally required before commencing infrastructure development, road construction, or rescuing sites that have already been damaged.


Excavations at major antiquity sites are sometimes undertaken to enable the development of the site for tourism. In recent years, several major sites – Jerusalem (near the Temple Mount and the City of David), Bet She’an, Zippori (Sepphoris), Caesarea, ‘Akko, Maresha-Bet Govrin, and Hazeva have been excavated with this in mind; excavations were also initiated at Horbot ‘Avedat, the Ashdod and Ha-Bonim fortresses, and in historic cities – Ramla, Zefat, Tiberias, and Shefar‘am.

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