The University of Haifa’s School of Archaeology and Maritime Cultures (SAMC) is the first of its kind to integrate the full scope of research domains on land, at sea, and in the lab, under one roof. Together with the University of Haifa’s International School, SAMC is offering two groundbreaking one-year English-taught International Master’s programs, on both land and underwater.
Home to world-renowned archaeologists and cutting-edge labs, SAMC’s reputation has earned it four prestigious grants from the European Research Council. Its departments – archaeology, maritime civilizations (underwater and coastal archaeology), archaeological sciences, and cultural heritage- offer a globally unique environment for collaboration and learning. “Our strengths lie both in exposing our students to all sides of archaeology on land, underwater, cultural heritage and the sciences, and in our strong partnerships with the Technion and leading universities abroad,” says Prof. Israel Finkelstein, head of SAMC.
Digging into Prehistoric Archaeology
“Nothing beats the excitement of holding a 200,000 year old fossil deer bone or an ancient flint knife that we discovered in the field digging with our own hands”, says Prof. Reuven Yeshurun, chair of UHaifa International’s Master’s program in Prehistoric Archaeology. The program incorporates a hands-on approach with a focus on life-changing events and processes that shaped humankind over 2 million years. Homo sapiens’ evolution, continent colonization, fire domestication, and the agricultural revolution are a few examples of how this program explores humanity, technology, and relationships with the environment.
“Reconstructing human pre-history from eras before written records is challenging. It demands state-of-the-art research tools and a prime location. That’s precisely what we offer our students,” says Dr. Ron Shimelmitz, head of the Master’s Program in Archaeology. Shimelmitz is referring to the University’s unique location on Mount Carmel, one of the world’s most dynamic centers of prehistoric research. Bridging between Europe, Asia, and Africa, this UNESCO World Heritage Site contains the buried record of over 500,000 years of human evolution and history, hidden in layers of flint and limestone caves.
“Mount Carmel is our exclusive real-world lab, where students explore and literally dig into caves and open-air archaeological sites to understand evolutionary events. For example, how modern humans met Neanderthals, why nomadic hunter gatherers chose to settle down, and more,” explains Shimelmitz. “We combine theory with unique courses and hands-on experience with fossil animal bones, stone tools, sediments, and experimental archaeology. We also enable our students to work in small groups, and to be personally mentored by the best in the field”.
The international English-taught Master’s program can be completed in one year, while students interested in a research career can extend their studies and pursue a thesis track. Students become active participants in SAMC’s activities while finding their unique research path. Some have already made significant discoveries, such as exploring how bone beads were made and worn 15,000 years ago, analyzing patterns decorating 7000 year old bowls, and studying hunting habits of Neanderthals 120,000 years ago.
Cheng Liu, a graduate of the program shares that “The prehistoric archaeology MA program at the University of Haifa provided me with valuable fieldwork opportunities, and the faculty’s dedicated mentorship helped me publish several articles and land my current
position as a doctoral researcher.” Cheng liu is among any graduates who have pursued prestigious PhD programs at the University of Haifa and in Cambridge, Emory, and Rice Universities, backed up by generous scholarships, or have secured positions in the public archaeology sector.
Diving deep into underwater and coastal archaeology
“When I first saw the Shipwreck display at the University of Haifa’s museum I was speechless and realized that that I’ve finally found the Master’s program I’ve been waiting for”, says Karsyn Johnson, a Master’s student in Maritime Civilizations (underwater & coastal archaeology) from Oklahoma, USA. Johnson is referring to one of SAMC’s mind-blowing flagship projects: the excavation and reconstruction of a 2,500 years old shipwreck, alongside a replica that students and researchers sail to explore and understand ancient seafaring. This is only a fraction of SAMC’s globally renowned underwater research activities, some in collaboration with the Technion, the University of California in San Diego, the University of Padova and Ca’Foscari University in Italy.
“UHaifa International’s Master program in Maritime Civilizations is the only one of its kind in Israel that conducts underwater explorations along the Israeli coast – one of the largest concentrations of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean”, confirms Prof. Nimrod Marom – Head of the Program. “We offer students an exceptional opportunity to understand human-sea
interactions in its broader sense, while bringing together different fields such as underwater and coastal archaeology, geology, geo-archaeology, history and ecology. Our historic sea level changes and coastal environments, from sunken Neolithic villages, Bronze and Iron
Age anchorages and ship cargoes, Roman and Byzantine ports and shipwrecks, and medieval nautical activity”.
Field activities on sea and in the lab are an integral part of the program. They expose students to hands-on applied science, state of the art research methods and technologies, research expedition and under-water excavations, and address the full scope of challenges of marine studies. This also includes an intriguing seminar dedicated to ancient ship building, held in SAMCS designated Lab for ship construction. Headed by Prof. Deborah Cvikel, the lab focuses on ship construction, seamanship and ship handling, based on underwater excavations and research of shipwrecks. Cvickel’s team is also engaged in discovery and conservation of waterlogged wood and organic material from the sea, alongside metal findings from shipwrecks. Take a look at a recent discovery:
The program is exclusively taught in English and can be completed in one year’s time, or it can be extended for students who prefer to take the thesis track and pursue a research career. SAMC’s Department of Maritime Civilizations is home to some of the most exciting and high-profile underwater research projects funded by the European Research Council’s most prestigious research grants. The program’s graduates have enjoyed a broad range of career destinations in both academic research and professional roles in private and governmental sectors.
Johnson says the city of Haifa’s unique beach, forest and urban geography, the warmth of the faculty and the unique program curriculum were decisive in her decision to pursue her underwater career at UHaifa International. “The program in underwater archaeology was exactly what I wanted to do: learn while diving as much as possible”.
Join the MultiExperience
The Masters programs in Archaeology and Maritime Civilizations (underwater & coastal archaeology) are part of 18 one-year, English taught programs offered by UHaifa International. Located in a multi-cultural city on top of Mount Carmel with breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea, the University of Haifa is Israel’s most diverse, sustainable, affordable and equal-opportunity driven academic research center. It’s scholarship options and atmosphere of excellence, diversity and inclusion attract students from over 90 countries to a once in a lifetime opportunity of exploring new cultures, meeting people from all over the world and leveraging new knowledge to a competitive advantage.