Israel and Palestine

City of David
City of David
The ruins of Bethesda Pool
The ruins of Bethesda Pool
Tel Megiddo
Tel Megiddo
Salomons horses on Tel-Megiddo National park
Salomons horses on Tel-Megiddo National park
Ruins of the ancient theatre of Beth She'an
Ruins of the ancient theatre of Beth She'an
Ruins of the ancient theatre of Beth She'an
Ruins of the ancient theatre of Beth She'an
Mount of Temptation next to Jericho
Mount of Temptation next to Jericho
Jezreel Valley landscape
Jezreel Valley landscape
Caves of Qumran
Caves of Qumran
Boat on the Sea of Galilee
Boat on the Sea of Galilee
Belvoir Fortress
Belvoir Fortress
Ancient Ruins in Caesarea Maritima
Ancient Ruins in Caesarea Maritima
Ancient port in Caesarea Maritima
Ancient port in Caesarea Maritima
Akko Sea Wall and Sea Front
Akko Sea Wall and Sea Front
Spices on sale in Akko market
Spices on sale in Akko market

There are few places on earth that can boast such a rich, varied and important archaeological heritage as both Israel and Palestine. Over the millennia, this ancient land has felt the tread of conquerors and settlers: Canaanites, Israelites, Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans and even Imperial Britons, all of whom have left their signature.

Discover the incredible archaeology of Jerusalem - the most holy of cities - and uncover the tragedy of Masada, before visiting one of the oldest cities in the world, Jericho.

  • Explore an abundance of iconic ancient sites on this fascinating trip
  • Visit one of the world’s oldest cities, Jericho
  • Spend three days in Jerusalem, where a wealth of history awaits
  • Enjoy special access to excavations and museums alike
  • Sit down to dinner with leading local archaeologists

Themes

  • Romans
  • Prehistory
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches
  • Great Cities
  • Cultural Excursion
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We fly to Tel Aviv and transfer to our hotel on the shores of Lake Tiberias, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee. In this gorgeous location we relax after our flight, and recharge our batteries, preparing ourselves for the adventures to come...

Day 2

We spend our first morning in Israel exploring the Belvoir Crusader Fortress, one of the best preserved Crusader Fortresses in Israel. This site was a bastion of the Knights Hospitallers until it was eventually besieged and captured by Saladin’s forces in 1189.

On to the  Roman and Byzantine city of Beth She’an, thought to have been occupied since the 6th to the 5th millennia BC. The city flourished under the Pax Romana, and continues to thrive thanks to its location as a junction between the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys. We pay a visit to the 6th-century synagogue of Beth Alpha, which was discovered in the 1920s and features colourful wall panels depicting scenes such as the Binding of Isaac, and a beautiful Greco-Roman zodiac.

After lunch, we delve into Jezreel Valley, a fertile “land of milk and honey”. Here we explore the ancient city of Tel Megiddo, better known as Armageddon. Its location, on a narrow pass along a vital trade route, led to Tel Meggido being of great strategic importance in the ancient world, and the site of many significant battles. Recent excavations have unearthed no less than 26 layers of ruins.

Day 3

We begin the day at the archaeological site of Tel Dan, the most northerly Israelite city, where a remarkable Bronze Age mud-brick gateway still stands in place, surrounded by verdant countryside. We continue to Tel Hazor, once the largest fortified city in the country. Its surviving ramparts are considered to be the foremost examples of their type in the region.

After pausing for lunch we pay a visit to Nimrod Castle, built by the son of Saladin to protect Damascus from the armies of the Sixth Crusade.

Lastly, but by no means least, we view the “Jesus Boat” in the grounds of Hotel Nof Ginnosar. This recovered fishing boat dates from the 1st century AD, and is the type of vessel Jesus and his disciples may have used. A highly significant find.

Day 4

This morning we drive to Tzipori, a fortified city perched on a mound in the Netofah Valley. Thanks to extensive excavations in the area we are able to view an ancient synagogue, Jewish homes lining a cobbled street, a Roman villa, and a number of intricate 5th-century mosaics, depicting images such as the famous “Mona Lisa of Galilee”.

In the afternoon we continue to Akko, or Acre, on the sunny shores of Haifa Bay. Akko features in Egyptian, Biblical, Greek and Persian mythology, and is the holiest city of the Baha’i faith. We discover striking Ottoman aqueducts, Medieval churches, and city walls established by Crusaders.

Day 5

Today we explore the national park and Roman harbour city of Caesarea Maritima, constructed by Herod the Great. The city was described by 1st-century historian Josephus as: “adorned with the most magnificent palaces”. Among the many remnants here now are a well-preserved theatre, a double aqueduct, and a limestone block on which the name of “Pontius Pilatus” is inscribed.

We spend the afternoon at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the largest museum in the country. It is here that we encounter the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Biblical and extra-Biblical manuscripts known to man, which were discovered in caves on the west bank of the River Jordan in the late 1940s. A thrilling glimpse into Israel’s holy past.

Day 6

We spend a full day in Jerusalem in the company of a leading Israeli archaeologist – a unique opportunity that takes us right to the heart of this city and its fascinating stories.

Together we visit the Medieval Lions’ Gate, a part of the old city walls. It is believed that its name does not derive from the big cats on its crest – these are, in fact, leopards – but the dream of King Selim I, in which his promise to build a city wall spared him from being torn apart by lions.

Following this we stop at Bethesda Pool in the city’s Muslim quarter, which fits the description of a pool in the Gospel of John, and is widely considered an ancient place of healing. We continue along the Via Dolorosa, the “Way of Sorrow”, thought to be the final route taken by Jesus on his way to the crucifixion.

After lunch we visit the Tower of David Museum. Located in the chambers of a citadel, and offering panoramic views across the city, this museum charts the history of Jerusalem over the millennia, from carved Canaanite tablets to rare archival images of British rule.

Day 7

We drive to Jericho this morning, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and visit the Herodian Winter Palace complex. Dating from the Second Temple period of 516 BC to 70 AD, here we find evidence of luxury on a grand scale, with traces of swimming pools, bathhouses, orchards and gardens – and three palace buildings of increasing magnificence.

We continue by cable car to the Monastery of the Mount of Temptation, said to have been built on the spot at which Satan tempted Jesus during his 40-day fast. Prepare for incredible views across the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley.

In the afternoon we explore the remains of the settlement of Tel es-Sultan, site of Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations, where the world’s oldest city wall still stands, alongside the Tower of Jericho.

Our day draws to a close at Hisham’s Palace, a significant early Islamic construction, where we find the famous “Tree of Life” mosaic in the audience room of the bathhouse.

Day 8

Our exploration of Jerusalem continues today, beginning with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site of the Christian faith. It is believed that housed within this church is the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, as well as his empty tomb, now encased within an 18th-century shrine.

From here we walk to the ruins of the City of David in the Arab neighbourhood of Wadi Hilweh, a site of Canaanite and Iron Age remains, commonly identified as the urban centre of old Jerusalem. Here we view Warren’s Shaft – thought to have once supplied the city with water – and Siloam Pool, a rock-cut pool fed by Gihon Spring which has been in use since around 700 BC.

This afternoon we visit Bethlehem and the Herodium, a well-excavated hill on which we find a tomb said to be that of King Herod, as well as the remains of a palace, bathhouse, theatre and synagogue.

Day 9

After a hearty breakfast we travel to the archaeological site of Tel Lachish, a huge Near East city with commanding views over the hills and coastal plains. Tel Lachish features in the Book of Joshua and the ground here has yielded scores of LMLK seals, ancient Hebrew seals dating from the reign of King Hezekiah.

We continue to the walled city of Tel Beer Sheba, where we enjoy a picnic lunch amid the ruins of the national park. The most important discovery here was a horned animal altar, the first unearthed in Israel.

We stop at the mysterious prehistoric site of Tel Arad, with its altars and standing stones, before continuing to the glittering Dead Sea where, if we have time, we may “swim” atop the hyper-salty waves.

Day 10

Our last day of the trip begins with an ascent to Masada, a rugged Herodian fortress high up on the isolated cliffs of the Judaean Desert. According to ancient sources, the defenders of this fortress committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans in AD 73. This incredible site is one of Israel’s foremost attractions, and achieved World Heritage status in 2001.

We continue to En Gedi National Park, with its beautiful oasis – the biggest in Israel – and diverse plant and animal species. Keep your eyes peeled for the elegant Nubian Ibex.

We round off our day with a visit to the remote desert caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, before returning to Jerusalem for a convivial farewell dinner.

Day 11

We transfer to Tel Aviv for our flight home.

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

We fly from London to Tel Aviv. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel located in northern Israel on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. We have a welcome night’s rest before starting our adventure tomorrow.

Day 2

We spend our first morning in Israel exploring the Roman and Byzantine city of Beth She’an, thought to have been occupied since the 6th to the 5th millennia BC. The city flourished under the Pax Romana, and continues to thrive thanks to its location as a junction between the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys. We pay a visit to the 6th century synagogue of Beth Alpha, which was discovered in the 1920s and features colourful wall panels depicting scenes such as the Binding of Isaac, and a beautiful Greco-Roman zodiac. After lunch, we delve into Jezreel Valley, a fertile “land of milk and honey”. Here we explore the ancient city of Tel Megiddo, better known as Armageddon. Its location, on a narrow pass along a vital trade route, led to Tel Meggido being of great strategic importance in the ancient world, and the site of many significant battles. Recent excavations have unearthed no less than 26 layers of ruins.

Day 3

We begin the day at the archaeological site of Tel Dan, the most northerly Israelite city, where a remarkable Bronze Age mud-brick gateway still stands in place, surrounded by verdant countryside. We continue to Tel Hazor, once the largest fortified city in the country. Its surviving ramparts are considered to be the foremost examples of their type in the region. After lunch by the Sea of Galilee, we continue to Belvoir Crusader Fortress, one of the best preserved Crusader Fortresses in Israel. This site was a bastion of the Knights Hospitallers until it was eventually besieged and captured by Saladin’s forces in 1189. Lastly but by no means least, we view the ‘Jesus Boat’ in the grounds of the Nof Ginosar Hotel. This recovered fishing boat dates from the 1st century AD, and this is the type of vessel that Jesus and his disciples may have used.

Day 4

This morning we drive to Tzipori, a fortified city perched on a mound in the Netofah Valley. Thanks to extensive excavations in the area we are able to view an ancient synagogue, Jewish homes lining a cobbled street, a Roman villa, and a number of intricate 5th century mosaics, depicting images such as the famous “Mona Lisa of Galilee”. In the afternoon we continue to Akko, or Acre, on the sunny shores of Haifa Bay. Akko features in Egyptian, Biblical, Greek and Persian mythology, and is the holiest city of the Baha’i faith. We discover striking Ottoman aqueducts, Medieval churches, and city walls established by Crusaders.

Day 5

Today we explore the national park and Roman harbour city of Caesarea Maritima, constructed by Herod the Great. The city was described by 1st century historian Josephus as: “adorned with the most magnificent palaces”. Among the many remnants here now are a well-preserved theatre, a double aqueduct, and a limestone block on which the name of “Pontius Pilatus” is inscribed. We spend the afternoon at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, the largest museum in the country. It is here that we encounter the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Biblical and extra-Biblical manuscripts known to man, which were discovered in caves on the west bank of the River Jordan in the late 1940s. A thrilling glimpse into Israel’s holy past.

Day 6

We spend a full day on foot in Jerusalem – the perfect opportunity that takes us right to the heart of this city. Our walking tour takes us along the Via Dolorosa, believed to be the path that Jesus walked on the way to his crucifixion, and to the Medieval Lions’ Gate, a part of the old city walls. It is believed that its name does not derive from the big cats on its crest – these are, in fact, leopards – but the dream of King Selim I, in which his promise to build a city wall spared him from being torn apart by lions. Other stops include Bethesda Pool in the city’s Muslim quarter, which fits the description of a pool in the Gospel of John, and is widely considered an ancient place of healing. After lunch we visit the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, home to artefacts dating from prehistory to the Ottoman period.

Day 7

We drive to Jericho this morning, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, and visit the Herodian Winter Palace complex. Dating from the Second Temple period of 516 BC to 70 AD, here we find evidence of luxury on a grand scale, with traces of swimming pools, bathhouses, orchards and gardens – and three palace buildings of increasing magnificence. We continue by cable car to the Monastery of the Mount of Temptation, said to have been built on the spot at which Satan tempted Jesus during his 40-day fast. Prepare for incredible views across the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley. In the afternoon we explore the remains of the settlement of Tel es-Sultan, site of Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations, where the world’s oldest city wall still stands, alongside the Tower of Jericho. Our day draws to a close at Hisham’s Palace, a significant early Islamic construction, where we find the famous “Tree of Life” mosaic in the audience room of the bathhouse.

Day 8

Our exploration of Jerusalem continues today, beginning with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the holiest site of the Christian faith. It is believed that housed within this church is the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, as well as his empty tomb, now encased within an 18th century shrine. From here we walk to the ruins of the City of David in the Arab neighbourhood of Wadi Hilweh, a site of Canaanite and Iron Age remains, commonly identified as the urban centre of old Jerusalem. Here we view Warren’s Shaft – thought to have once supplied the city with water – and the Pool of Siloam, a rock-cut pool fed by Gihon Spring which has been in use since around 700 BC. This afternoon we visit Bethlehem and the Herodium, a well-excavated hill on which we find a tomb said to be that of King Herod, as well as the remains of a palace, bathhouse, theatre and synagogue.

Day 9

After a hearty breakfast we travel to the archaeological site of Tel Lachish, a huge Near East city with commanding views over the hills and coastal plains. Tel Lachish features in the Book of Joshua and the ground here has yielded scores of LMLK seals, ancient Hebrew seals dating from the reign of King Hezekiah. We continue to the walled city of Tel Beer Sheba, where we enjoy a picnic lunch amid the ruins of the national park. The most important discovery here was a horned animal altar, the first unearthed in Israel. We stop at the mysterious prehistoric site of Tel Arad, with its altars and standing stones, before continuing to the glittering Dead Sea where, if we have time, we may “swim” atop its famous hyper-saline waters.

Day 10

Our last day of the trip begins with an ascent to Masada, a rugged Herodian fortress high up on the isolated cliffs of the Judaean Desert. According to ancient sources, the defenders of this fortress committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans in AD 73. This incredible site is one of Israel’s foremost attractions, and achieved World Heritage status in 2001. We continue to En Gedi National Park, with its beautiful oasis – the biggest in Israel – and diverse plant and animal species. Keep your eyes peeled for the elegant Nubian Ibex.
We round off our day with a visit to the remote desert caves of Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, before returning to Jerusalem for a convivial farewell dinner.

Day 11

We make our way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv airport for our return flight home. We arrive in London this evening.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Travel Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

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2018 Tour Details

Tue 30th October - Fri 9th November

Available

£3,695

inc.

sgl supp: £735

ISR18B

Led By: Dr Avi Soloman

2019 Tour Details

Tue 24th September - Fri 4th October

Available

£3,895

inc.

sgl supp: £895

ISR19B

Led By: Nick Jackson

Guide Lecturers

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