About the Israel Project

UVU first got involved last year with the Beit Lehi project when we were approached by Alan Rudd, President of the Beit Lehi Foundation. The Beit Lehi Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed to help in the excavation of a very substantial archeology site located approximately 22 miles southwest of Jerusalem. After meeting with the foundation we decided that this project could be a very worthwhile and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students of UVU.

The Beit Lehi Foundation first approached us because of the unique skill sets the EGDT students possess. These students are capable of doing the initial site surveying and mapping. They can also do the design of the facilities and infrastructure that will accommodate those that visit the site in the future, such as: a visitor center with gift shop and theater, walkways around the site, parking lots and roadways for buses and cars. We also wanted to use the talents of the Digital Media students to help film a documentary focusing on the EGDT students and their involvement in the project, as well as produce a movie that would eventually tell the story and history of the site. This would be the movie that visitors would watch in the theater while visiting the site, this is quite common at all the tourist sites in Israel. There could also be other opportunities for Construction Management students as well as others in the future.

The lead archeologist on this site is Oren Gutfeld from the Hebrew University. Oren is now one of the most recognized and respected archeologists in Israel. In fact, he was just authorized to be the lead archeologist to oversee the newest archeology dig of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Oren was recognized with a personal visit with the Pope for his discovery of a hoard of coins found in the area of Tiberias. Oren is as close to an Indiana Jones as you will meet. The students of UVU also got to meet Oren's right hand man, Yakov Kalman, who was the archeologist on site when Kind Herod's tomb was uncovered. The students of UVU were excited to meet and work alongside these well known and respected archeologists.

Since the site sits on the perimeter of a Israeli military base, we are only allowed to excavate on certain days of the week. On the off days, the students of UVU were able to tour some of the prominent sites in Israel. They visited Qumron, Ein Gedi, Masada, Ceaserea and Jaffa on the Mediterranean coast, the Western Wall, the tunnels and chambers under the Western Wall, Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Garden Tomb, Hezekiah's Tunnel, Garden of Gethsemane, Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, Old Jerusalem, Samson's Well, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and many other noteworthy sites. By visiting these sites, the students were able to see first hand what types of designs are being used in Israel and also what works well with visitors and also what was not visitor friendly. There was very little time where the students did not have something to do or see. They experienced the many religious cultures in the area and were able to taste many of the foods in the region. In their words, "This was an educational experience of a lifetime".

All in all, the Beit Lehi archeology project is a priceless engaged learning experience for our students and faculty. You can stand in front of a classroom for days on end and try to explain how to survey a project such as this with only a minimal effect. But, to actually take the students to a foreign country and to literally place them on an archeology site such as this is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.