Israel and Palestine
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.
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Day 1 - London - Tel Aviv - Galilee
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.
|Hotel||Olive Gilboa Mountain|
Day 2 - Galilee
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 - Galilee
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 - Galilee
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 - Galilee - Jerusalem
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 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 - Jerusalem
We spend a full day today exploring many of the highlights of the old city of Jerusalem, starting with an early morning visit to the Temple Mount and continuing to the City of David, the oldest part of Jerusalem settled during the Canaanite period. Here we explore the ancient water system discovered by Sir Charles Warren, the British engineer who rediscovered it in 1867, and the Pool of Siloam. After lunch we visit the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum and spend some time in the Old City walking along the Via Dolorosa.
Day 7 - Jerusalem
We drive to Jericho this morning, one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. Here we explore the remains of the settlement of Tel es Sultan, site of Katherine Kenyon’s excavations, Hisham’s Palace, an early Islamic construction and the Herodian Winter Palace complex. In the afternoon, we visit the Herodium, the palace-like fortress built by King Herod; the combination of fortress and palace is a uniquely Herodian innovation, which he repeated on several other sites, including Masada. It is here that after 35 years of archaeological research, Ehud Netzer announced he had found Herod's tomb and resting place. The news made headlines worldwide.
Day 8 - Jerusalem
Today we begin 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. After a short visit to En Gedi National Park for a taste of this beautiful oasis – the biggest in Israel, 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.
Day 9 - Jerusalem - Dead Sea
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.
|Hotel||David Dead Sea Resort & Spa|
|Meals included||All meals included|
Day 10 - Dead Sea - Jerusalem
Today we are accompanied by Dr Avi Solomon, a leading Israeli archaeologist. Beginning with a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, it is believed that this church is the site of Jesus’s crucifixion, as well as his empty tomb, now encased within an 18th century shrine. After, Dr Solomon will give us a private behind the scenes tour of the excavations at the Western Wall tunnels and the Roman Odeon. After lunch, we enter Palestine for a visit to Bethlehem, where we take a short tour that includes a stop at the Church of the Nativity.
Day 11 - Jerusalem - Tel Aviv - London
We make our way from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv airport for our return flight home. We arrive in London this evening.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Expert Guide Lecturer
- Professional Tour Manager
- Meals as per the itinerary, tea or coffee with dinner
- Local travel aboard a private air-conditioned coach
- Entries to all sites as per the itinerary
- All taxes & gratuities
- Field notes
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|16 November 2021||AISR211116||16 November 2021 (Tuesday)||26 November 2021 (Friday)||Nick Jackson||£5,075
|3 May 2022||AISR220503||3 May 2022 (Tuesday)||13 May 2022 (Friday)||Nick Jackson||£5,145
|15 November 2022||AISR221115||15 November 2022 (Tuesday)||25 November 2022 (Friday)||Nick Jackson||£5,145