Excavation Director: 


Dr. Itzick Shai is an assistant professor at Ariel University. He finished his Ph.D. on the Philistine material culture of the Iron Age IIA in 2006 at Bar-Ilan University and was a post-doctorate fellow at the Semitic Museum in Harvard University and a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies Hebrew University, Jerusalem.  In 2009, together with Dr. Joe Uziel, he initiated the Tel Burna Excavation Project.  Since then he has served as the project’s director. He has extensive experience in field archaeology from different periods. For the last 15 years he has served as an area supervisor for the Tell es-Safi/Gath Archaeological Project.

Some of Dr. Shai’s published articles deal with Philistine material culture, place names and their importance in ethnic identification, the status of Jerusalem in the Iron Age and the political structure of Philistia, the Late Bronze Age remains at Tell es-Saf/Gath, spatial analysis of a LB Building, the high resolution survey at Tel Burna and the dating of the fortification system of Tel Burna.

Staff (listed alphabetically)

debi loomweights

Debi Cassuto is a doctoral candidate at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. She has participated in a number of excavations in Israel, in particular, the Tell es-Safi/Gath project since 2005 and has been a staff member at the Tel Burna excavations from the start. She specializes in ancient textile production and has published reports on textile implements from various excavations in Israel as well as an article based on her MA thesis on the topic of women and household weaving in the Iron Age. Debi is currently Ernest S. Frerichs Fellow/Program Coordinator at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.

Dagan_AmitDr. Amit Dagan is a long-time staff member at the Tell es-Safi/Gath archaeological project – where he currently serves as the Lab Director and Area Supervisor of Area D (Lower City). He has a teaching diploma from Bar Ilan University (in Land of Israel Studies and Achaeology) where he also recently completed his PhD (on Philistia and the Shephelah in the Iron IIB) and has been involved with the Tel Burna project since its inception. Amit is also an experienced tour guide and teaches in Israel’s tour guide training program and currently teaches in the department of Land of Israel Studies at Beit Berl College and the Open University of Israel.

IMG_0623 (1)Dr. António de Freitas is a Researcher at the University of Minho and a Scientific Adviser to the Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.  He studied at SOAS (University of London) and University of Cambridge. He has been a Professor at Universities in Portugal, the UK, the USA and Chile.  His main research project is on Cosmogonies and Eschatologies in texts from Ancient Near-Eastern and Indo-European cultures. He is a specialist in ancient languages and an epigraphist, particularly in cuneiform writing and Anatolian and Greek hieroglyphics systems,  he also has some knowledge of Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. He has published in ancient cosmogonies, paleo-linguistics, ancient philosophy and archaeo-sphragistics. It has been said that he is an archaeologist of the thought.


Dr. Tina Greenfield is a zooarchaeologist who received her PhD from the University of Cambridge in the UK with a specific interest in Near Eastern Archaeology.  She has worked on archaeological sites in Canada, Serbia, Romania, Israel, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey, and South Africa. She teaches at the University of Winnipeg and is co-director of the Near Eastern and Biblical Archaeology Lab at the University of Manitoba. In addition to working at Tell es-Safi, and Tel Burna in Israel, for the past three years, Dr. Greenfield has been a part of teams from Munich University, Boston University and the US State Department excavating and teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan (N. Iraq). UK. 


Sheila Gyllenberg is a lecturer at the Israel College of the Bible and a licensed Israeli tour guide. She is working on a doctorate in the Land of Israel Studies department at Bar Ilan University.

Ron LevRon Lev is a Ph.D. student at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He has BSc in Computer science and mathematics, and MA in Archaeology, both from Ben-Gurion University in Israel. Ron worked as a director in a software company (Amdocs), but has also participated in numerous digs and archaeological projects throughout Israel. Recently, Ron ended his software development career in order to follow his passion and dedicate his time to archaeological research.

Chris Excavation

Chris McKinny is a Ph.D. candidate at Bar Ilan University where he is writing on the town lists of Judah and Benjamin in the biblical book of Joshua. He has also been a staff member at the Tell es-Safi/Gath and Tel Burna excavations for the last several years. Chris currently teaches for The Master’s College IBEX program, William Jessup University, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi and has led numerous field tours and trips across Israel. He is the author of My People as Your People: A Textual and Archaeological Analysis of the Reign of Jehoshaphat and  The Regnal Chronology of Judah and Israel: an Illustrated Guide.


Andrea Orendi studied Pre- and Protohistory and Medieval Archaeology at the University of Tübingen (Germany). She completed her Master’s Degree in the field of Medieval Archaeology. Andrea has worked several years  as an assistant in the archaeobotanical laboratory in Tübingen where she is pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of archaeobotany under the direction of Dr. Simone Riehl. Her thesis will include archaeobotanical material from Tel Burna.

Simone RiehlDr. Simone Riehl is an environmental archaeologist with a research focus on the palaeoecology and environmental archaeology of the Middle East including the emergence and development of agriculture. She studied archaeology and paleoethnobotany at the Universities of Tübingen (Germany), Basle (Switzerland) and Sheffield (UK) and holds a lectureship in bioarchaeology at the University of Tübingen since 2010.

Casey 2

Casey Sharp received his MA in Hebrew Bible from the University of Georgia in 2012, and he served on staff at the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon before joining Tel Burna. In 2015, he completed a second MA at the University of Haifa in maritime civilizations and archaeology. In between graduate studies, Casey worked for a non-profit serving the needs of refugees from all over the world who have been granted asylum to live  in the United States. His academic interests include ritual and cult in the Iron II and Bronze Age maritime trade.

J Rosenberg Burna Bio

J Rosenberg, originally from the UK, is an archaeological surveyor who has been associated with a number of prominent Biblical-period excavation projects in Israel since the late 1980’s, for example, Ashkelon and Tel Miqne-Ekron. He has a wife and 5 children, enjoys choral singing  and riding his mountain bike.


Dr. Matthew Suriano is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible in the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies at the University, and is an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Classics.  Dr. Suriano was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago and studied history as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He began his graduate studies in Israel, first at Jerusalem University College and later at the Hebrew University. His Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitics is from the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. Matthew has participated on several archaeological excavations and has been a fellow at the Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem. He is currently a member of the Tel Burna Archaeological Project.

3 thoughts on “Staff

    New Blog Features | telburnaexcavations said:
    February 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    […] Check out some newly posted pictures from the 2012 season in the “pics” section (above) or click here – also see our new “Staff” section (above) or click here.  […]

    […] a very interesting international meeting will be held in Jerusalem and Ariel, organized by Drs. Itzik Shai and Yonatan Adler of Ariel […]

    […] editors are Itzik Shai (long-time, senior team member of the Safi team and director of the Burna excavations), and David […]

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