One of Israel’s few resources is its archaeology, with the most dense concentration of archeological sites in the world.
The Israel Antiquities Authority is responsible for protecting the antiquities of the country. Its many tasks are achieved by the institution’s devoted workers, who are organized in many departments and operate in different districts throughout the country.
The Israel Antiquities Authority Centers for Archaeology aim to increase awareness in Israeli youth of archaeology – knowledge of the ancient sites and cultures, and the importance of safeguarding and preserving these national resources.
The Centers’ instructional teams consist of experienced educators who specialize in archaeology, some combining both archaeological field work and instruction. Each of the four centers is located in a different area of the country and conducts specific educational programs for each target audience, using the area’s archaeological resources.
For archaeologists who are seeking full time positions in Israel there are two main avenues to pursue.
- The University route
- The Israel Antiquities Authority.
The Antiquities Authority conducts most of the digs that are currently in progress.
Before any new buildings or roads are built in Israel a dig is necessary to ensure that no antiquities may destroyed or built over and remain undiscovered
Unfortunately there are limited paid positions and little funding for archaeological research. On the other hand volunteering as an archaeologist is an excellent way to begin and getting yourself known whilst doing something that you enjoy and find interesting.
To help with your income many archaeologists find a second job, maybe something connected with archaeology or perhaps giving tours or working in a museum.
As with many positions it is far better to have a degree and in the case of archaeology it seems to be preferable that the degree is obtained from outside of Israel as employers feel that the approach has a fresh perspective.
Joining a dig and being able to bring something new and interesting is a good lever to help you to secure a paid job. Try to gain as much experience as you can by joining any digs from non Israeli sources that are presently carrying out a dig in Israel.
There are opportunities for those with Bachelor's and Master's degrees however a doctorate will in fact help you even more to locate a number of positions.
The Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University are the number one universities in Israel for archaeology. A large number of students decide to major in Israel Studies for their undergraduate degrees.
Whereas there are no scholarships available for Bachelor’s and Master’s degree study in Israel, there are a few scholarships available for PhD study.
Many archaeologists like to specialize in a particular period during their studies. The period that is most likely to lead to employment opportunities today is the Prehistoric period.
Archaeology is not a particularly well paid job and people enter this field of work because it is something that they are truly passionate about.
Due to the fact that archaeology does not have many well paid positions it is very hard to survive on this income alone.
Until you have tenure with an employer, wages are usually the minimum. A newcomer without any previous experience can find it very difficult to secure tenure and it may take a very long time maybe years.
Try lecturing in archaeology if working on a dig is not possible and this may lead to acquiring tenure
Discovering a Dig
It’s all about networking and building connections. Try to find an archaeologist who is leading a dig, and then offer to work as a volunteer. When you have shown your capabilities, you can ask to join in any future digs with this archaeologist. Slowly you will find your credibility is growing within the field.
Digs that are being conducted in Israel by a visiting archaeologist from an overseas university may be easier to get involved with. As with most professions, it is important to carry out market research and speak to professionals in Israel, who can give you more in-depth information about the opportunities that exist.
The importance of Hebrew ulpan as part of the absorption process cannot be overemphasized. The language skills you acquire in ulpan will benefit you through every phase of your absorption, including finding a place to live, looking for employment, and building relationships with veteran Israelis.
During ulpan you will learn about and experience Israeli society, politics, and culture, while getting to know those institutions, authorities, and agencies that you will be dealing with in the future.
In any country, language is the basic tool of the worker. Therefore a high-level knowledge of Hebrew is essential. Even in those rare situations where immigrant work entirely with speakers of their mother tongue, it is still necessary to deal with the entities that make up the social services network. Furthermore, lectures, seminars, and workshops are usually conducted in Hebrew.
It is important to register at a Hebrew ulpan as soon as possible after obtaining new immigrant status in Israel. New immigrants are usually eligible to receive a subsidy of their ulpan study.
In order to find out about ulpan options, consult your personal absorption counselor at a local office of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption. The counselor will confirm your eligibility for a subsidy of your ulpan study and refer you to non-residential, Ministry-approved ulpanim in your area.
Albright Institute of Archaeological Research: http://www.aiar.org
Tel Aviv University: http://www.tau.ac.il/humanities/archaeology/
Bar Ilan: http://biu.ac.il/js/archaeo/main1.htm
Hebrew University: http://archaeology.huji.ac.il/
The Israel Antiquities Authority: http://www.antiquities.org.il/
Yad Ben Tzvi: http://www.ybz.org.il
Biblical Archaeological Review http://www.findadig.com/