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Community Based Archaeology at Khan el-Hilu, Lod, Israel

September 15, 2011

Located in Israel, near Tel Aviv, the old city of Lod has a history that spans over 7,000 years. Today, Lod is one of the
poorest and most neglected cities in Israel. It is characterized by a mixed Arab-Jewish population of extremely low
socio-economic background and a severely weak social-cultural infrastructure. This grim situation is starkly apparent
in the physical neglect of most of the city's public spaces. The Lod community based archaeology project uses Lod's
glorious heritage as a mean for conciliating the local community. It aims to turn the 'brown field' of ancient Lod to an
urban green field, thereby restoring the importance of the historical city.
Launched over 4 years ago, the Lod Community Archeology Program integrates archeology enrichment with practical
archaeological work that reveals the ancient past of the city. In the current school year, the program operates in 10
schools in Lod, 5 Jewish and 5 Israeli-Arab.

At the heart of the Lod Community Archeology Program is Khan el-Hillu, an important historical site,
located in the Old City. Over the past three years, the students have been learning about the site and
participating in archeological excavations at the Khan. Unfortunately, a recent safety inspection by the
Israel Antique Authority's restoration inspectors at the Khan el Hillu site revealed the hazardous situation of one of the
walls in the entrance area of the Khan. This wall was declared dangerous already in the 90's and was reinforced to
prevent its collapse. Today this support is no longer effective and is a hazard on its own accord. The Antique Authority
inspectors have conditioned the continuation of digging at the site on taking care of the hazard. Failing to fix this
hazard would prevent the renewal of the 2011 digging license and thus severely interrupt the project. Thanks to an
AIA Site Preservation Grant, we will be able to restore this wall to ensure that our important educational programs are
able to continue at Lod.
The enrichment activities are provided by 'Karev' a well-established organization specializing in educational
intervention programs. The practical part, i.e. the excavations, is managed by Dr. Yuval Gadot and Taufic Dadeale,
professional archeologists from the Hebrew Union College. The implementation of all project components is well
coordinated by the project leaders.
Following are the basic program components:

Enrichment Lessons: Throughout the school year, each student receives 2 weekly hours of enrichment in
archeology.
Tours of Lod: Each group of students participates in a tour of Lod, during which the children are shown the city's
prominent historical and archeological sites.
School Happenings: Each school holds a special event during the year, aiming to expose all of the students and
teachers to the field of archeology and the specific program.
Teachers' Training: The teachers in all of the participating schools participate in a training workshop.
Jewish-Arab Encounters: Social encounters bring Jewish and Arab students together.
Archeological Excavations: The highlight of the program is the archeological excavations at the Khan el Hilu site
under the supervision of Dr. Yuval Gadot and Taufic Dadeale. This year, the excavations will be held over a period of
two months, allowing each student to participate for two or three days. One class is hosted on site at a time, and the
children do everything within their physical abilities: move earth, collect pottery and other finds, as well as clean-up
the khan from trash. The children also help in washing the pottery shards and in cataloging the finds. The fact that the
excavators are untrained children does not affect the academic standard of the excavations. It means that we dig
slower and ensure that there are enough trained archaeologists in each excavation square who can control the work
and answer the children's questions. To date, over 1000 school children have already taken part in the excavations
and in related physical work.
A mobile exhibition presents the project and the excavations at Khan el Hilu since 2007 and until today. It displays the
products of this work to students, their parents and the entire Lod community. The exhibition travels between schools
and public institutes in Lod.

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DIG DEEPER

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