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Purchase College Offers Archaeology Dig in Israel

PURCHASE, N.Y. — A group of Purchase College students will venture to Israel for five weeks beginning in June to unearth archaeological artifacts from the Holy Land.

Students will take two courses while in an archaeological field, where they will study methods of archaeological digs as well as Biblical archaeology and history. Students will travel to southern Israel near Beer Sheba to a site known as Khirbet Summeily, Rachel Hallote, associate professor of history and director of Jewish studies at the college, said in a statement.

The site is on the border between Biblical Judah and the land the Philistines called home, said Hallote, who also serves as the college's educational director of the excavation. The area was marked by "political turf battles and all-out wars" during Biblical times, she said.

"It’s an Iron Age site, dating primarily to the 10th and 9th century BC, which is the height of the Biblical period," Hallote said. "The students who work with us get to uncover and handle artifacts that were used in the time of King Solomon and his successors."

For some of the students, it will be their first hands-on archaeological experience, Hallote said. Many of her students have been interested in archaeological work for a long time but have never had the opportunity until now to partake in it, she said.

"This is an opportunity that could transform their world view and influence their career choices,” Hallote said. "Students will get to handle ancient pottery, excavate ancient houses, and learn about modern archaeological techniques, like GIS imaging."

Hallote and cinema studies Professor Carmen Oquendo-Villar hosted Israeli filmmaker Avner Faingulernt in early March. Faingulernt screened two of his films dealing with the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as part of the the college's Jewish and film studies students.

The excavation is sponsored by the Cobb Institute of Mississippi State University in association with the Jewish Studies Program at Purchase College-SUNY.

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