B.C. Archaeology

Study Tours of the Ancient World


The mortuary temple known as Ed Deir at Petra

"It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
By labor wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
Where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
That crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
That first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
Which Man deemed old two thousand years ago.
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time."

John William Burgon, 'Petra' (1845)


This three-week study tour of Israel and Jordan has an emphasis on the archaeology and history of the ancient Levant. We fly to Tel Aviv in Israel where we explore the antiquities of ancient Jaffa, the original port city of the region. We also visit the Eretz Israel Museum which includes the excavations of the Philistine settlement of Tel Qasile and pavilions showing pottery and glass from ancient sites in the area.

We then head north to the site of Caesarea, a major port built by Herod the Great, which has a well preserved hippodrome and house mosaics. We stay in Haifa for two nights. From here we visit the important Bronze Age site of Megiddo which preserves remains of Canaanite temples, Iron Age palaces and an impressive water tunnel. In Haifa we visit the Hecht Museum in the grounds of Haifa University which has an impressive collection of artefacts from the region including an ancient shipwreck.

The next day we head north to Acco (medieval Acre) to explore the extensive complex of buildings erected in the 12th Century by the Knights Hospitaller. These have recently been excavated and restored. We then drive to Hazor where we explore the Bronze Age and Iron Age remains of this important urban centre. We stay two nights at Kibbutz Nof Ginosar which lies on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. From here we head north to see the ruins of the ancient settlement of Tel Dan which preserves an impressive mudbrick gate from the Middle Bronze Age and Iron Age city gates. We also see the Cave of Pan at Banias and explore the amazing ruins of Nimrud Castle. This was built by the Ayyubids in the 12th Century and is one of the most impressive castles in the Near East.

We head south via Belvoir Castle which was erected by the Knights Hospitaller to guard the passage of the Jordan Valley. We also see the extensive new excavations at the site of Bet Shean. These include the ancient tel with its Egyptian palace, and the huge civic centre of the Roman city with its theatre, colonnaded streets and bath complex. We continue to Jerusalem which will be our base for 6 nights.

In Jerusalem we explore the old city. We enter the city via Jaffa gate and see Davidís Tower, the medieval Citadel of the city. We explore the Iron Age ruins of David's City including the extensive water system to protect Jerusalem from siege. In the Jewish Quarter we see the fascinating remains of 6 houses from the period of King Herod, and also see the Burnt House which was destroyed in the roman siege of the city in AD 70. We also visit the Temple Mount where we view the Dome of the Rock and explore the cityís Christian heritage by walking the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where Christ was traditionally crucified and buried. In the Israel Museum we explore the recently restored antiquities galleries.

From Jerusalem we take a day trip to the stunning desert fortress of Masada. Built as a sanctuary by King Herod it was later used by Jewish rebels in the fight against the Romans until they were forced to commit suicide - evidence of the Roman siege ramp is well preserved. We also visit the beautiful desert valley of En Gedi where we ascend the lush valley and climb to see the Chalcolithic temple. We also see a 5th Century Synagogue and have a swim in the Dead Sea.

The following day we drive to Qumran. Here we explore the ancient settlement where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. This was probably home to the Essenes, an ascetic group of Jews. After lunch we cross the King Hussen Bridge to Jordan and ascend to Mt Nebo where a magnificent new church is being built and also see the Roman mosaics at Madaba. We then head to Amman, capital of Jordan, which will be our base for four nights. From Amman we explore the antiquities in the local region. We head north to visit the stunning remains of the Hellenistic and Roman city of Jerash. We also see the antiquities of the National Museum in Amman and walk around the ruins of the ancient city, including the Roman theatre, Temple of Hercules, and Ummayad palace. We also have a day excursion into the eastern desert of Jordan to explore the fascinating Umayyad 'Desert Castles', a series of forts and caravanserais from the early Islamic period (8th Century AD).

We then head south of Amman, stopping en route to see the dramatic Crusader castles of Kerak and Shobak. We check into our hotel in Petra which will be our base for three nights. We spend 2 days exploring the stunning ruins of Petra, the fascinating Nabataean city carved into the red sandstone cliffs. We also spend a day exploring the dramatic desert scenery of Wadi Rum by 4-wheel drive. Our tour concludes by returning to Amman and our flight to Australia.

The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Day 1: Depart Australia
Our Singapore Airlines flight leaves Australia with a short stop over (usually a few hours) in Singapore. We proceed to Istanbul where we connect to our Turkish Airlines flight to Tel Aviv.

Day 2: Arrive Tel Aviv - Jaffa
We arrive in Israel in the late morning. We drive to the downtown part of Tel Aviv and check into our hotel. After freshening up we visit the nearby ancient settlement of Jaffa. Here we have a look at the excavations of the ancient site and see the small display of artefacts. Overnight Tel Aviv

Day 3: Tel Qasile - Caesarea
In the morning we visit the Eretz Israel Museum. Within the grounds of the Museum is the ancient site of Tel Qasile, where we see a well-preserved Philistine temple from the 12th Century BC. We then drive north along the Mediterranean coast where we visit the Roman port of Caesarea, built by King Herod. Ongoing excavations are exposing the extensive remains of the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader cities and port. We explore the theatre, amphitheatre and aqueduct, and walk around the ruins of the Crusader city. In the afternoon we head north to Haifa where we check into our hotel. Overnight Haifa.

The excavations of Megiddo
The halls of the Knights Hospitaller at Acco

Day 4: Megiddo - Hecht Museum
Today we take a short drive from Haifa to the ruins of the ancient city of Megiddo. Extensive excavations over 80 years have revealed 20 layers of this enormous Bronze and Iron Age settlement which includes temples, stables and an elaborate water system. After lunch we return to Haifa where we see the impressive archaeological collection in the Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum (located in the University of Haifa). Finds include Canaanite and Phoenician remains and an ancient shipwreck. Overnight Haifa.

Day 5: Acco - Tel Hazor
We leave Haifa and head north to Acco (medieval Acre) where the see the remains of the Crusader city. We walk around part of the walls and gates of the city and explore the vast complex of recently excavated buildings erected by the Knights Hospitaller. After lunch, we continue to the ancient city of Tel Hazor and explore the antiquities. Early work by archaeologist Yigael Yadin revealed 21 different layers of settlement going back to the Early Bronze Age. Overnight in a Kibbutz on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Day 6: Tel Dan - Banias - Nirmud Castle
In the morning we head north to the Tel Dan nature reserve, a lush forested area with springs feeding into the Jordan River. We explore the ancient Tel mound which was occupied since early times and includes impressive Middle Bronze Age and Iron Age city gates. From here we visit Banias with its beautiful spring and Greek temple dedicated to Pan. After lunch we head to Nimrud Castle, one of the most spectacular fortresses in the Middle East. Built by the Ayyubids in the 13th Century it was massively expanded under the Mamluks. Overnight Sea of Galilee.

Day 7: Belvoir Castle - Bet Shean
In the morning we head south around the Sea of Galilee to Belvoir Castle. Built by the Knights Hospitaller in 1168 it has well preserved gates, courts and towers with spectacular views across the Jordan Valley. After lunch we head to the ancient ruins of Bet She'an, where excavations on the ancient Tel have revealed evidence of the city's role as an Egyptian provincial capital as early as the 14th to 12th centuries BC. In the Roman Period the city vastly expanded to include a theatre, colonnaded streets, and many temples. In the afternoon we head to Jerusalem where we check into our hotel. Overnight Jerusalem.

The spectacular ruins of Nimrud Castle
The Roman city at Bet Shean

Day 8: Jerusalem - Citadel - City of David - Jewish Quarter
Our tour begins by entering Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate. We explore the medieval David's Citadel with its interesting displays telling the story of Jerusalemís history. We then visit the City of David excavations which have exposed part of the early Iron Age city and a shaft leading from the city to its water supply in the Kidron Valley. We see Hezekiah's Tunnel, built to divert water into an inner city reservoir called the Pool of Siloam. After lunch we explore the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem including the Herodian excavations (6 houses with mosaics from the time of Herod the Great) and Burnt House (destroyed during the sack of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70). Overnight Jerusalem.

Day 9: Jerusalem - Israel Museum
The day begins at the Israel Museum with a look at the enormous Model of Jerusalem as it existed at the time of the Second Temple (time of Herod in 1st Century BC). The remainder of the day is devoted to an in-depth visit to the newly renovated Israel Museum, which includes the Dead Sea Scrolls and many other treasures. There is some free time in the afternoon to explore some of the more recently opened galleries. Overnight Jerusalem.

Day 10: Jerusalem - free time
This is a free day. Opportunities are many and include revisiting the Old City, or a visit to one of the many museums and galleries in the city, or simply relaxing and enjoying a rest. Overnight Jerusalem.

Day 11: Jerusalem - the Temple Mount - the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Today we explore some of the religious treasures of the Old City. We start with a visit to the Temple Mount original location of Solomonís Temple and associated with Mohamed's 'Night Journey'. We see the outside of the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, both of which were erected in the 8th Century by the Umayyad ruler Abd el Malik. After lunch we visit the Christian Quarter where we walk along the Via Dolorosa, traditional route of the Stations of the Cross, and explore the Church of the Holy Sepulchre which was erected in the 11th Century. Overnight Jerusalem.

Day 12: Masada - En Gedi - swim in the Dead Sea
In the morning we head to the fortress of Masada where we take the cable car to the summit. Built by Herod as a palace sanctuary, it was later occupied by the Jewish Zealots fighting Roman occupation. After lunch we travel north to En Gedi, a desert canyon which is watered by a fresh water spring. Here we walk up through the lush valley and climb a path to the Chalcolithic Temple where there are spectacular views. We then visit a well preserved 5th Century synagogue with mosaics and have a swim in the Dead Sea. Overnight Jerusalem.

The Citadel (Tower of David) in Jerusalem
The stunning remains of Herod's palace at Masada

Day 13: Qumran - Mt Nebo - Madaba - bus to Amman
Today we head to Qumran, a remote religious settlement whose library once housed the Dead Sea Scrolls, (discovered in the mid 20th Century in nearby caves). After lunch we drive up the Jordan Valley and cross over to Jordan via the King Hussein Bridge. Once through customs we drive to Mt Nebo, the traditional site where Moses first saw the Holy Land. We also stop to see the famous mosaic map of the Holy Land in the small town of Madaba. In the afternoon we head to Amman where we check into our hotel. Overnight Amman

Day 14: Jerash
In the morning we head north of Amman by bus to the magnificent Roman ruins at Jerash. One of the wealthiest cities of the socalled Decapolis (Land of Ten Cities), Jerash thrived on overland trade and acquired impressive Roman buildings including two theatres, temples and colonnaded streets. A highlight is the impressive circular forum. In the afternoon we return to our hotel in Amman. Overnight Amman.

Day 15: Archaeology Museum - Amman Citadel / Roman theatre
In the morning we visit the National Archaeological Museum of Jordan in Amman which contains a fascinating collection of artefacts from Jordanian history. Artefacts include Neolithic plastered skulls, Bronze Age pottery, Hellenistic and Roman artefacts, and Nabataean art and pottery. We then walk around the Umayyad Palace on the citadel of Amman, see the remains of the Temple of Hercules, and explore the well preserved Roman theatre. In the afternoon we have a walk in the Downtown area of Amman. Overnight Amman.

Day 16: The 'Desert Castles' of the Eastern Desert
The day is set aside for a day trip to explore the 8th Century Ummayad ruins in the eastern desert of Jordan. These sites include the remains of the fortified residence and tribal meeting place at Qasr Hraneh, the remarkable decorated baths of Qusayr Amra with elaborate frescoes, the black stone castle of Azraq where Lawrence of Arabia planned his attack on Damascus, and the fortress of Hallabat with its Umayyad mosaics. Overnight Amman.

Day 17: Kerak Castle - Shobak Castle
In the morning head down the Kings Highway, the ancient road through the uplands of Jordan. We stop to photograph the superb view over the Wadi Mujib and have a cup of tea or coffee. We then explore the impressive remains of Kerak Castle, built by the Crusaders in the 12th Century to dominate the region. After lunch we stop at the site of Shobak to see the remains of another medieval castle. Built on an isolated hill, the castle is famous for its deep water tunnel. In the late afternoon we head to the modern town of Petra where we check into our hotel. Overnight Petra.

The round forum of Jerash
The Roman theatre of Amman

Day 18: Petra Day 1 - 'Treasury', High Place and Royal Tombs
This day is dedicated to exploring the scenic wonders of the magnificent Nabataean city of Petra. Carved into the dramatic red sandstone of the Wadi Arabah, the city is famous for its magnificent mortuary chapels. We walk down the famous siq where we catch our first glimpse of the 'Treasury', a superb example of Natabataean architecture. We see the rock-cut theatre and climb up to the High Place for a magnificent view over the site. In the afternoon we see the stunning 'Royal Tombs'. Overnight Petra.

Day 19: Petra Day 2 - the Central City and Ed-Deir
In the morning we continue our exploration of the magnificent site of Petra. We investigate the central part of the site including the Great Temple and the churches. Those who are energetic and adventurous can accompany the guide by walking (or taking a donkey) to the top of the plateau to explore the incomparable Ed-Deir, 'the Monastery', a spectacular funerary temple carved out of the native rock. The views over the Wadi Arabah are magnificent and the temple is one of the most impressive sites in the Near East. Overnight Petra.

Day 20: Wadi Rum - drive to Dead Sea
In the morning we head south by bus to explore the splendid natural wonders of the Wadi Rum, a stark desert landscape made famous in the movie 'Lawrence of Arabia'. We travel by 4-wheel drive down the Wadi stopping to see magnificent isolated oases and natural springs and explore a Nabataean temple. In the afternoon we head north via the Desert Highway to our hotel in Amman. Overnight Amman.

The treasury at Petra
Exploring the Wadi Rum

Day 21: Depart Amman
In the morning we head to Amman International Airport. We fly Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and connect with our Singapore Airlines flight to Australia.

Day 22: Arrive Australia
Arrive in Australia.

* Please note that the Company reserves the right to make alterations to the itinerary in the period up to 60 days prior to a tour departure. The itinerary may also be subject to minor re-arrangement due to the scheduling of the operators and availability of access. If this occurs, the Company will endeavour to provide a comparable alternative.


Back to top