The Archaeological Council in Israel, being the professional body that advises the Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, in accordance with Section 34 of the Antiquities Law of the State of Israel, has recommended guidelines for the policy of granting excavation licenses in Israel. The outline below is based on the principles of the Archaeological Council document from 2003, with the intention of ensuring the scientific quality of archaeological excavations and their publication, and maintaining a balance between the needs of scientific research and the desire to preserve the antiquities of the land as a very important cultural resource of the State of Israel, and this in recognition of the fact that the antiquities of the land are a finite resource.
The Archaeological Council recommends to the Director of the Israel Antiquities Authority that excavation licenses be granted by him to a recognized institution in the field of archeology and to an archaeologist working on behalf and under the auspices of this institution.

The institution on behalf of which the request was submitted and the archaeologist who holds the license will be responsible for managing the excavation and publishing it according to accepted scientific procedures, and for carrying out conservation actions in the excavated area as required by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The institution on behalf of which the request is submitted will be an archaeological institution recognized by the Council for Higher Education in Israel, that has students studying for an academic degree in archaeology, and that the institution has the required research and laboratory infrastructure for the purpose of handling, processing and publishing excavation findings.

An archaeological institution from abroad that wishes to initiate a scientific excavation will, in order to obtain an excavation license, form a research collaboration with one of the recognized Israeli institutions, with the Israeli institution being the one responsible for managing the excavation and publishing it according to the accepted scientific rules. Rescue excavations will be carried out only under the auspices of an Israeli institution and by an Israeli licensee. Licenses will not be given to institutions from abroad or to archaeologists from abroad for the purpose of carrying out rescue excavations.

Among the considerations that will be assessed in order to grant an excavation license to an archaeologist are the archaeological skills and experience of the archaeologist submitting the request. This includes experience in field archaeology, the academic and research background in the research aspects relevant to the site for which the request is submitted, and the scientific importance of the said site. Among other things, the archaeologist applying for a license must meet the following criteria: they must have at least a bachelor's degree in archaeology and an “excavator’s certificate,” and have expertise and experience suitable for the type of site for which the license is requested. Particular attention will be placed on the type of site - its scope, importance, complexity, size, and the periods represented in it. In other words, the professional expertise of the archaeologist must be in accordance with the findings expected at the site. In addition, the license applicant must present appropriate experience in carrying out excavations, and proven experience in properly publishing scientific publications of previous excavations, as well as the lack of previous publication obligations (beyond that accepted by the Israel Antiquities Authority). The ability to lead an appropriate excavation team to carry out the excavation will also be assessed. A license applicant over the age of 67 must add to the license application another applicant under the age of 67.

In order to enable research for archaeologists who are not affiliated with a recognized institution, unaffiliated archaeologists can request from recognized institutions, including the Israel Antiquities Authority, to receive official auspices for an initiated scientific excavation that they wish to carry out within the framework of a specified study.

In order to examine the application, the application for the excavation license will be accompanied by details of the practical experience of the applicants and their staff, in field archaeology, the scientific processing of archaeological materials and the publication of archaeological excavations, detailing research partners and independent work. License applicants who completed their undergraduate studies after 2007 at an Israeli academic institution will attach their “excavator's certificate.” Applicants who have completed their studies abroad will present information on their practical training, corresponding to the requirements of an “excavator's certificate.” If the applicants do not have cumulative experience in managing complex scientific excavations, it is recommended not to initiate an application for excavation at sites of major scientific importance.

Each license application will be accompanied by a detailed research proposal that includes the goals of the excavation, the research questions that the excavation intends to examine, the planned duration of the research and the costs of the various components, including: excavation and field studies, the processing of the findings, conservation in the field, and the related studies.

Once every four years, the licensing committee of the Archaeological Council in Israel will re-examine the continuation of the said excavation license, and this according to the progress of the excavation and its scientific publication.


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