Archeology & Ancient History Israel Tours

Discover Israel’s Archeology & Ancient History Custom Tour - 10 Nights - Sample Itinerary

A uniquely designed comprehensive tour of the Biblical and historical sites that played a pivotal role in the Ancient History of Israel from the first settlements of the Iron Age until the mid 19th century.

Please remember Discover Israel Tours are not off-the-shelf pre-planned tours that include prearranged hotel accommodations, meals, transportation & guides. These are suggested itineraries for groups of travelers who want to focus on some of Israel’s most notable areas of interest. These itineraries should be used as suggested starting points for planning a Discover Israel group tour - including: developing the group, determining a date and duration, deciding on accommodations, transportation and meals, and of course, enlisting the services of an academic level, professional guide who will deliver expert insight relevant to the tour's focused subject. Galilee Travel works closely with group members assisting and supporting all tour development phases and , of course, booking on behalf of the group all hotel, transportation, guidance and meal arrangements in Israel - as well as - providing Airline Ticketing to Israel, travel insurance and other individual requirements group members may have.

DAY ONE – Welcome to Israel and to Tel-Aviv.Afternoon Arrival to Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport. You will be met by our Diesenhaus representative and be introduced to your dedicated Israeli Archaeology professional who will accompany your group and serve as your guide during the complete trip. The bus ride from the airport to downtown Tel-Aviv takes about thirty minutes. After check-in and some time to unpack and freshen 

up you are invited to a welcome cocktail reception and dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Tel Aviv.

DAY TWO – Tel Aviv Introduction.

This will be your first morning in Israel and your first chance to enjoy Israel’s famous breakfast tradition – an unusually rich selection of dairy, pastry, eggs, smoked fish, vegetables, fruit and beverages. After breakfast you will join your fellow travelers at one of the hotel’s conference rooms for a four-hour introductory lecture given by your guide. The lecture will provide you with an opportunity to meet your expert and hear a professional introduction to Israel’s ancient history and its expression through the country’s rich and diverse archaeological findings. Around noon time you will have a short break to get some rest following your incoming flight and/or stroll the colorful Carmel open market, Tel-Aviv’s trendy Neve Tzedek district or take a 

leisurely walk on the “Tayelet” – Tel Aviv’s bustling boardwalk overlooking the Mediterranean, all are just a short walk from your hotel. Early afternoon you will be taken on a guided walking tour of Old Jaffa, Tel-Aviv’s multicultural, ethnically diverse, history-soaked and colorfully attractive neighborhood. In Jaffa you will have a chance to learn about the City’s distant archaeological beginnings from the Bronze Age and through Egyptian, Biblical, Medieval and Ottoman rule. You will have a chance to learn about excavations on Rabbi Pinchas Street in the flea market that revealed walls and water conduits dating to the Iron Age, Hellenistic period, early Islamic period, Crusader period and Ottoman era. In the evening you will have a chance to explore Jaffa’s eclectic mix of contemporary galleries, shops, Churches, and Mosques, enjoy dinner at one of Jaffa’s exceptional restaurants and return the short distance to your hotel for your second overnight in Tel-Aviv.

DAY THREE – Arsuf, Caesarea, Haifa.

After breakfast and an early start you depart Tel-Aviv and drive north about twenty minutes along the coastal road to Herzelia to visit Arsuf - an important Roman settlement between Jaffa and Caesarea along Via Maris which was later the site of a battle between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin. Arsuf National Park is a relatively new and highly interesting addition to Israel’s list of archaeological wonders. Leaving Arsuf, your bus will travel north about forty minutes along the coastal road to Caesarea. This sprawling excavation, one of Israel’s preeminent archaeological sites, will be your first chance to explore the country’s rich and diverse ancient history. Caesarea, named after Augustus Caesar, served as the Roman Empire’s Israeli capital and later as an important seaport and metropolis during Byzantine, Crusader, Arab and Ottoman periods. You will receive a guided tour and detailed explanations about Caesarea’s core findings such as Herod’s Palace, the Tiberium, Hippodrome, Harbor and of course Caesarea’s famous Amphitheater – used today as one of Israel’s most lucrative concert venues. After concluding the comprehensive visit to Caesarea, you will board your bus and continue north for about thirty minutes along the coastal road to Haifa – capital of northern Israel and the country’s largest commercial seaport. In Haifa your bus will ascend Mount Carmel along a panoramic road that overlooks northern Israel and the Galilee. On clear days Mount Hermon, the tallest peak in the Middle East is clearly visible. Your bus will do a quick photo-op stop at the lower entrance to the Baha’i Shrine & Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and then continue on to your hotel where you will enjoy dinner and an evening stroll along the Carmel panoramic walkway overlooking the city.

DAY FOUR – Explore Acre and Tzippori.

After breakfast at your hotel in Haifa, you will board your bus and drive north to the ancient port of Acre for an in-depth exploration of this important location. One of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in Israel, Acre was politically and culturally affiliated with Phoenicia and was renamed Antiochia Ptolemais by Alexander the Great. The city was captured by Cleopatra VII of Egypt, Herod built there a gymnasium, and the Romans established there a colony named Colonia Claudii Cæsaris. In the 13th century Acre was captured by King Baldwin I of Jerusalem and the Crusaders made the town their chief port in the eastern Mediterranean, providing more wealth for the Crusader crown than the total revenues of the king of England. Acre was the final stronghold of the Crusader state, and fell to the Mameluks of Egypt in a bloody siege in 1291. The Ottomans under Sultan Selim I captured the city in 1517, after which it fell into almost total decay, and towards the end of the 18th century was revived under the rule of a local sheikh. In 1799 Napoleon, attempted to conquer Acre but after a siege of two months was repulsed by the Turks. After a comprehensive tour of Acre you will board your bus and travel to Zippori. This ancient town is considered in Christian tradition to be the home of the parents of the Virgin Mary, in what was then a Hellenized town. Notable structures at the site include a Roman theater, two early Christian churches, a Crusader fortress that was renovated in the 18th century, and upwards of forty different mosaics. Tzippori once served as a center of Jewish religious and spiritual life in the Galilee - remains of a 6th-century synagogue have been uncovered in the lower section of the site. A Roman villa is arguably the centerpiece of the discoveries, containing one of the most famous mosaics in all of Israel. It was built around the year 200 and shaped in the traditional form of a triclinium in which seats would have been arranged in a U-shape around the mosaic. The mosaic, for the most part, is devoted to Dionysus, God of Wine, and is seen along with Pan and Hercules in several of the 15 panels. Following your visit to this amazing excavation you will board your bus and travel east to Tiberias where you will check in at your hotel located right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Dinner will be served this evening at a shoreline restaurant in Tiberias.

DAY FIVE – A Visit to Tel Dan and the Golan Heights.

After breakfast at your hotel in Tiberias, you will board your bus and drive towards Israel’s northern border and your first stop at Tel Dan. Dan, a town first settled in the Neolithic age more than 4000 years ago, was an important settlement in the Bronze and Iron Age during the Phoenician and Assyrian periods. Excavators of Tel Dan uncovered a city gate made of mud bricks estimated to have been built around 1750 BCE, presumed to be from the period of the Biblical patriarchs. The gate was extensively excavated and then restored in the late 2000’s. Within the remains of the city wall, close to the entrance of the outer gate, parts of the Tel Dan Stele were found. The basalt stone bears an Aramaic inscription in which a small part refers to the House of David (Bet David in Hebrew). In the line directly above, the text reads “MLKYSRL”, i.e. "King of Israel", making the inscription the first one to mention the name David at an archaeological site dating before 500 BCE. From Tel Dan your bus will travel to the Golan Heights, ascending gradually to the high volcanic plateau from which the Syrian army once terrorized Israel’s Northern Galilee. On the way to your first stop your guide will highlight points of interest and discuss the region’s unique geography and history. Your first stop on the Golan will be at Nimrod’s Fortress, built around 1229 by a nephew of Saladin to pre-empt an attack on Damascus by the Sixth Crusade. It was further expanded to span the whole ridge by 1230 and the ruler Baibars strengthened it and added larger towers after 1260. At the end of the 13th century, following the Muslim conquest of the port city of Acre and the end of Crusader rule in the Holy Land, the fortress lost strategic value and fell into disrepair. There are tremendous views of the Galilee Panhandle from the fortress ruins. From the Nimrod site your bus will travel to the Golan’s central town of Katzerin. The ancient Jewish farming village of Katzerin was built around a spring, which still flows but was also occupied from the Middle Bronze age, continuing into the Iron, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Although there were standing ruins on the site, archaeological excavations increased the number of accessible ancient buildings. An ancient synagogue was discovered in 1967 and other parts of the village were excavated beginning in 1983. Some of the buildings have been reconstructed on their ancient foundations and furnished with replicas of household goods and tools. An ancient wine press and olive press have also been made functional with new ropes and beams. Costumed guides demonstrate and explain construction methods, agricultural and manufacturing processes in English. Following the archaeological segment of your visit you will be able to visit the Kesem Hagolan Center and the Golan Winery where you will be able to learn some more about the Golan’s geological attributes and enjoy a light snack, wine tasting and a beer sampling from one of Israel’s finest Breweries. Your bus will then return you back to the hotel for dinner and another overnight stay in Tiberias.

DAY SIX – Capernaum, Belvoir and Beit Shean.

After breakfast your bus will take you on a short drive along the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum where excavations revealed an ancient fishing village, synagogues and a church. Your guide and on-site information will provide detailed insight about this amazing location, continuously under study since 1838, which represents a fascinating porthole to early Jewish history and the beginnings of Christianity. In 1838, the American explorer, Edward Robinson discovered the ruins of ancient Capernaum. The most important excavations began in 1905 and resulted in the discovery of two public buildings, the synagogue and an octagonal church. Later, in 1968, excavation of the western portion of the site led to the major discovery of a house which is claimed to be St. Peter's house in a neighborhood of the town from the 1st century AD. A 5th-century church consists of a central octagon with eight pillars, an exterior octagon with thresholds still in situ, and a gallery or portico that leads both into the interior of the church as well as into a complex of associated buildings to the East. The Byzantines, upon constructing the new church, placed the central octagon directly on top of the walls of St. Peter's house with the aim of preserving its exact location, although none of the original house was visible any longer, as the walls had been torn down and the floor covered in mosaics. Capernaum’s synagogue remnants are among the oldest in the world and were identified by Charles William Wilson. The large, ornately carved, white building stones of the synagogue stood out prominently among the smaller, plain blocks of local black basalt used for the towns other buildings. A mosaic uncovered in 1991 shows an image of the Woman and Dragon and may be a Christian addition at some point when the synagogue became a Christian church. From Capernaum your bus will take you to Kibbutz Ginosar, where in 1986 a 2000 year old fishing boat was discovered buried in shoreline mud. After a complex restoration the boat, now named the Jesus Boat, is displayed at the Yigal Allon where you will hear about the discovery, recovery and reconstruction of this amazing archaeological find. From Ginosar your bus will take you southward along the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River to one of Israel’s most dramatic, beautiful and oft overlooked ancient sites – the Fort Belvoir National Park. Overlooking the Jordan Valley, Fort Belvoir was built by the militaristic Christian order Knights Hospitaller to defend the northern Crusader kingdom from Saladin’s encroaching armies. Belvoir represents one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in the Holy Land. The fort’s eastern ramparts, perched high above the Jordan valley, offer magnificent views of the Jordan Rift Valley, the river and the adobe Mountains of western Jordan. From Belvoir your bus will travel along the Jordan River to Beit Shean, another Israeli archaeological marvel. An Israeli National Park, Beit Shean was strategically important from the early Egyptian period through all consecutive ancient history periods of Israel. The extent of findings and archaeological data produced by excavations at Beit Shean is mind boggling with multiple levels revealing Egyptian hieroglyphs, numerous temples, a cardo, an amphitheater, bath houses, churches, tombs, and countless artifacts. Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Israelites from the time of David, Assyrians, Scythians, Greeks, Seleucids, Hasmonean Maccabees, Romans, Byzantines, Crusaders, Mamluks, and Ottomans - all occupied this historically complex area at different times and to different extents. The excavations have revealed no less than 18 successive ancient towns and Beit She'an is one of the most impressive Roman and Byzantine sites in Israel, attracting approximately 300,000 tourists annually. Following your extensive trip to Beit Shean, you will board the bus for the trip to Jerusalem. On the way you will stop at a restaurant for dinner. Upon arrival in Jerusalem you will check in at your hotel for your overnight stay.

DAY SEVEN – Jerusalem - the Old City.

Welcome to another breathtaking day and to the amazing city of Jerusalem. This morning, following breakfast you will be introduced to the Old City, whose history and global importance undoubtedly rival those of Athens and Rome. Your comprehensive tour will begin with a four hour professional lecture introducing Jerusalem’s complex ancient history and corresponding archaeology. After a short noon time break, your bus will take you to the Old City’s Jewish Quarter where you will visit the Western Wall and descend underground to view the foundations of the Temple Mount. The details of this tour are too intricate to review or summarize here – the foundation excavations are probably the most dramatic and academically complex excavations you will see – your professional guide will provide both the agenda and the onsite explanations throughout your tour. You will learn about the city’s architecture, development, inhabitants, governance and physical layout during each period – pre Temple, 1st Temple, 2nd Temple, Herodian, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman. You will learn about the structure and function of the Temples in each period and the city’s walls and fortifications. You will learn about commerce and residential life during each period. Each issue will be reflected in the excavations and finds you will visit. You will walk through and learn about ancient Jerusalem’s market street, the Cardo, and about the city’s urban design since the time of King David. You will visit the Burnt House – from the time of Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans and a variety of additional archaeological and biblical exhibits. Late afternoon, after an intensive day, you will return to your hotel for some R&R and then revisit the Old City’s Jaffa Gate for a Sound and Light show across the walls of the Tower of David. Dinner will be at a Jerusalem restaurant after the show. Second overnight in Jerusalem.

DAY EIGHT – Jerusalem – Day Two.

Today you will continue to learn about Jerusalem’s ancient history. You will tour and discuss the city's water systems and visit the Jerusalem Archaeological Museum and Temple Mount Excavations. You will explore other regions of the Old City such as the Via Dolorosa, Tombs, Mount Zion, the Kidron Valley, Mount of Olives and the Hinnom Valley. Today’s agenda and schedule will be given to you during the lecture on day one of your Jerusalem visit. Early afternoon your bus will take you to the Israel Museum – Israel’s most important museum, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls and a repository of exceptionally important archaeological and ancient history information and exhibits. Following your museum visit your bus will return to the hotel, passing through the city’s business and residential quarters, by the Hadassah Hospital complex, the quaint neighborhoods of Ein Karem and Talpiot and the colorful Machane Yehuda market – West Jerusalem’s central open air market. Tonight you will again have a few free hours to explore the new and exclusive Mamilla Mall situated next to the hotel and possibly take a short stroll to Jerusalem’s downtown district – also a short distance from the hotel. An evening dinner will be served at the hotel. Third overnight in Jerusalem.

DAY NINE – Masada and the Dead Sea.

Following breakfast and an early start, your bus will take you to the lowest point on Earth – the Dead Sea. The drive will take you on a descending journey from the Judean Mountains to the barren hills of the Eastern Negev. Your first stop will be at Qumran, the archaeological site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in Cliffside caves. You will tour and receive a detailed talk on the history and significance of the finds at Qumran. You will then proceed by bus to the foot of Masada – Israel’s most historically significant and fascinating archaeological attraction. Ascending to the mountaintop fortification via cable car or the Roman assault ramp, you will visit the restored wonders of this marvelous fortress extensively excavated between 1963 and 1965. Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 AD as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, numerous Jewish families fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountaintop, using it as a refuge and base for attacking the Romans. In 72, the Roman governor of Judea headed a Roman legion that laid siege to Masada. The Legion surrounded Masada and built an assault ramp against the western precipice. The rampart was complete in the spring of 73, after probably two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram. When Roman troops entered the fortress, they discovered that its 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings ablaze and committed mass suicide. Many of the ancient buildings have been restored from their remains, as have the wall-paintings of Herod's two main palaces, and the Roman-style bathhouses that he built. The synagogue, storehouses, and houses of the Jewish rebels have also been identified and restored. After descending from Masada to your buses and a short drive along the shore of the Dead Sea you will stop for a dip in the salty waters of this natural wonder and continue to your hotel. Dinner will be served at the hotel. Overnight at Ein Gedi.

DAY TEN – Exploring the Negev.

After breakfast at Ein Gedi you will board your bus and travel south along the Dead Sea and then ascend from the lowest point on Earth to the high desert plateau city of Arad. From Arad your bus will proceed across the central Negev to Beer Sheva, the capital city of Israel’s arid south. On the way you will stop at Tel Arad one of the oldest ruins in Israel dating back beyond the time of Kings David and Solomon, approximately 6000 years ago, to the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age Canaanites. Two main areas were discovered, the lower having been first settled during the Chalcolithic period, around 4000 BCE. Excavations at the site unearthed an extensive Bronze Age Canaanite settlement which was in place until approximately 2650 BCE and then an Israelite settlement from the 11th century BCE which eventually developed into a garrison-town known as 'The Citadel' on the upper hill at the time of King David and Solomon. Sequential citadels were built one upon the other and existed in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Herod even reconstructed the lower city for the purpose of making bread. Your bus will tour Beer Sheva’s significant points of interest and proceed to Tel-Sheva another visit to an archaeological site regarded as the first planned settlement in the region dating back to the Assyrian campaign against the Kings of Judah one thousand years before Christ. Tel-Sheva, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an Israel National Park, was developed during the 1990’s and opened to the public in 2003. The excavations and finds at this location include an intricate water management system that was probably developed because of abundant underground water available during ancient times. From Beer Sheva you will travel to Beit Govrin National Park, and the excavated Roman city of Eleutheropolis for a last chance to experience Israel’s dramatic past. At Beit Govrin you will walk through an excavated Roman Gladiator amphitheater, a Byzantine Church and a series of interconnected caves. The site is well known for its formidable Sidonian burial caves, painted inside and used by the Greek, Sidonian and Edumite inhabitants of Beit Guvrin. The first and largest cave has paintings of animals, real and mythic, above the niches where the corpses were laid. A cock crows to scare away demons, the three-headed dog Cerberus guards the entrance to the underworld and a bright red phoenix symbolizes the life after death. The Tomb of the Musicians is decorated with a painting showing a man playing the flute and a woman playing the harp. Beit Guvrin’s Saint Anne's church was built in the Byzantine period and restored by the Crusaders in the 12th century. The church has three big windows and its apse is well preserved. The remains of a Roman amphitheater were uncovered in the mid-1990s. The amphitheater, an elliptical structure built of large, rectangular limestone ashlars, was built in the 2nd century on the northwestern outskirts of Beit Guvrin for Roman troops stationed in the region after the suppression of the Bar Kochba rebellion. The amphitheater, in which gladiatorial contests took place, could seat about 3,500 spectators and had a walled arena of packed earth with subterranean galleries. The arena was surrounded by a series of connected barrel vaults, which formed a long, circular corridor and supported the stone seats above it. Staircases led from the outside and from the circular corridor to the tribunes. From Beit Govrin your bus will drive back to Tel Aviv where you will be able to enjoy a few hours of free time and an evening dinner at your hotel. Overnight in Tel-Aviv.

DAY ELEVEN – Farewell to Israel.

This will be your last day in Israel. After breakfast at the hotel you will have free time to once again experience Tel-Aviv, do some shopping, pack up and relax before your trip home. After a late checkout your bus will depart Tel-Aviv towards Ben Gurion Airport. On the way you will stop at Mini Israel, an extraordinary scale model of the country where you will be able to look upon miniature models of all the places visited during your tour. From Mini Israel you will be offered a farewell dinner and will be transferred to the airport for your departure from Israel.

Discover Israel Tours are uniquely tailored for groups of more than 15 people.

If you like one of our Discover Israel Itineraries but do not have a group, here's how to organize a Discover Israel Tour


 1. Develop Your Group A group of friends, an extended group of family members, a group of members with specific interests (Archeology, History, Cuisine, Technology or Environment and Nature...), a Bar Mitzvah trip, a Synagogue or Church group, a group of conference attendees, or just about any one interested in a highly focused study-travel Israeli experience.

2. Select Your Interest - Pick an area of interest from one of the itineraries we suggest or mix and match subjects and places of interest to create a uniquely experiential itinerary combining in-depth travel-study with leisurely sight seeing and relaxation.

3. Determine Your BudgetWhatever your Israel travel requirements may be as an individual or group , we will work with you diligently to design and implement the highest quality, most exciting and most rewarding Israel experience at your budget level. We are committed to providing the most competitive travel solutions possible. 

4. Choose Trip DurationPick preferred arrival and departure dates.

5. Choose Hotel PreferencesFrom Two to Five Star luxury hotel accommodations, Kibbutz Guest Houses and Boutique Hotels.

6. Tweak Your Itinerary We help you design your day by day travel based on your preferred areas of interest and any required additions or modifications. We work with group organizers and members to develop an exclusive Discovery itinerary that fulfills the group's unique learning desires, sight-seeing interests and travel preferences. 

7. Finalize Your Plan and Book Your Trip - Once all the above elements have been determined and selected, we work with the group and with our professional partners at Diesenhaus to implement and fulfill your Discovery Tour. 

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