A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. (May 2014)
Archaeological Seminars Institute, Ltd. is a private company based in Jerusalem, Israel that deals with archaeology and tourism. Founded in 1981 by archaeologist Bernie Alpert and his wife, Fran Alpert, as an educational tourist facility and joined in 1985 by archaeologist Dr. Ian Stern, Archaeological Seminars Institute runs the “Dig for a Day” program in Maresha and hires out licensed tour guides for private walking tours.
The company also ran an official English-language tour guide course for ten years.
“Dig for a Day” is a three-hour family activity that includes participating in an official archaeological excavation, licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority, in one of the thousands of caves in the area of Maresha. Following an introductory explanation that provides context for the excavation, the participants then descend into one of the subterranean complexes. Inside these caves they excavate and then, above ground, sift through the material they have dug up. Afterwards, they go on a tour (a “crawl”) of an unexcavated cave system. Each group has its own guide for the duration of the activity. The dig ends with a short summation describing some of the most important finds, some of which are now displayed in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Archaeological Seminars Institute is now run by Dr. Ian Stern and his wife, Heidi Stern. The Maresha Excavation Project is operated as a full-fledged research project under the academic umbrella of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
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