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January 31, 2011

Nahal Mahanayeem Outlet (NMO) - 2011 Excavation Season When – August 28 to September 23, 2011 •

Location: Bank of Jordan River 10 km North of Lake Kinneret

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Period: Mousterian/Middle Palaeolithic Date project first started: September 2007 Institution: Inst. Of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Tel Hai Academic College Excavation sponsors: Israel Science Foundation; The Leakey Foundation, Wenner-Gren Foundation, National Geographic, CARE

NMO is a Mousterian site located at the outlet of the Mahanayeem stream to the Jordan River, some 10 km north of the Sea of Galilee. The Jordan River at this vicinity cuts through sediments ranging in age from the Pliocene to the Holocene. The three km strip along the banks of the Jordan River South of the Hula Valley is rich in archaeological sites including the famous Gesher Benot Ya´aqov Acheulian site and the crusader fortress of Vadim Yaqub. The NMO site was discovered during Jordan River drainage operations in the fall of 1999, and has been undergoing excavation since 2007 by a team from the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Tel Hai Academic College. The site is open air, with the artifacts and animal bones found within black muddy silt, suggesting a lake shore environment at the time of occupation. The inhabitants of the area during the Middle Paleolithic produced Mousterian lithic tools including, primarily, points and blades. The site is dated to ca 65000 years BP based on OSL radiometric dates. Numerous animal bones in excellent preservation state were excavated. The dominant species is the giant wild cow, three times the size of present day cows. Other animal remains include deer, horse, wild boar, tortoise, birds and more. One of the most significant animal finds is the skull and femur of a lion found in-situ in the mud of the Jordan River Bank in 2002. Similar to other prehistoric sites in the region, the NMO sediments are waterlogged and hence preserve botanical material such as seeds, fruits, bark and wood. The site holds, therefore, great potential for the reconstruction of the environment of the region during the Middle Pleistocene. Finally, a human (nonNeanderthal) skull fragment was found in one of the piles of dirt dug up by a tractor during the 1999 drainage work. The confirmation of the presence of humans will

contribute to the debate over the emergence of modern humans in the Levant and their migration routes out-of-Africa. Contact Person – Dr. Gonen Sharon Tel: +972-4-8181601 Cellular : +972-2-8652630 Email:

Registration After you read all information and decided that you would like to participate in the NMO 2011 excavation season, please contact me ( and inform me about your decision and the duration of your stay. I will then confirm your registration and ask you to send me registration fees and then we are all set for the season! There is no registration deadline, but, if you want to ensure your place please register as soon as possible. Start and finish dates for this season

August 28 to September 23

Overall size of excavation team

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Numbers of staff: 2 Numbers of volunteers:


Level of experience required: • Excavation experience – advantage Minimum age • Post High School Minimum length of stay • 2 weeks Cost to participant • Registration fee (non-refundable): $250 (€175) or the equivalent in any currency. • Once at the dig – no additional cost! • Participants are expected to make their own travel arrangements to and from Israel. Dig schedule

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We work Monday morning to Saturday noon. You can travel on Sundays or rest at the Kibbutz. It is highly recommended that you consider few days before or after the dig to travel Israel. Working hours are between 6:00 am and 13:00. We then take a lunch brake at the Kibbutz and back to the site between 16:00 and 18:30.

Accommodation/food/equipment • Lodging is at an air-conditioned hostel with swimming pool at Kibbutz Gadot, a 5-minute drive west of the site. No need to bring a towel (I know what the hitchhiker guide to the galaxy says…). • All meals are provided. Food is not bad (Mediterranean). We eat breakfast at site. Lunch and dinner at the Kibbutz. • No need to bring any excavation equipment • Do bring: hat, sunscreen, working shows & sandals, anti mosquito something (if you have special requirements). 15. •

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Vaccination/immunisation and travel/health insurance requirements Health check prior to joining project recommended (not compulsory). Volunteers must carry proof of valid health/accident insurance policy. Tetanus vaccination is compulsory All health issues must be brought to organizer’s attention during application.

Visa/work permit requirements • Not required Level of training provided and details of participation certificate or academic credits • No academic credits (yet) Travel/access to site

Kibbutz Gadot is easily accusable by bus from anywhere in Israel. From the Airport you take the bus or train to Tel Aviv central bus station (Hahagana) and take the bus to Kiryat Shmona (840, 845, 842 – try and avoid 841). You should get off the bus at Mahanayeem Junction and give me a call. See buses at If you arrive to Israel ahead of time make sure to contact me to find out about optional lift to the excavation from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Useful publications (would like to get a PDF? Just let me know)

Sharon, G., C. S. Feibel, S. Belitzky, O. Marder, H. Khalaily and R. Rabinovich 2002 1999 Jordan River drainage project damages Gesher Benot Ya'aqov: a preliminary study of the archaeological and geological implications. In Eretz

Zafon - Studies in Galilean Archaeology, edited by Z. Gal, pp. 1-19. Israel Antiquities Authority, Jerusalem. Sharon, G., L. Grosman, H. Fluck, Y. Melamed, Y. Rak, R. Rabinovich and M. Oron 2010 The First Two Excavation Seasons at NMO: A Mousterian Site at the Bank of the Jordan River. Eurasian Prehistory 7(1):135-157.