Summer Abroad - Dhiban, Jordan

PLAN AHEAD - This program is scheduled for Summer 2015. Dates and information will be updated Fall 2014.

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Course Number: NES 193
Course Title: Archaeology, History, and Environment of Jordan
Units: 6
Prerequisites: see below
Syllabus: PDF

Prerequisites, Restrictions, and Limits
There are no prerequisites for this program, although prior coursework in archaeology or Near/Middle Eastern Studies is recommended. Students must be able and willing to carry out excavation duties similar to construction site activities (e.g., working with shovels, carrying dirt, walking up and down slopes; lifting heavy tools); therefore, they must be at least in average physical shape and have a tolerance for dirt. Students are required to sign a statement agreeing to refrain from discussing, displaying, or proselytizing their religious beliefs, limit their smoking and alcohol consumption to particular times and places, and dress modestly according to the gender rules of Jordanian culture. These and other project guidelines are described in detail in the Dhiban Project Handbook distributed to all students prior to their trip.

June 28 – August 9, 2013

Course Enrollment
Students will be enrolled in program-related coursework by Summer Abroad program staff through the application process. Students will not need to register separately.

Academic Requirements
Students are encouraged to consult with their advisor to see which major/minor or breadth requirements this program may fulfill. Visiting students are encouraged to talk to their advisor about transfer of credit to their home institution.


Berkeley Study Abroad Fees
The fees to participate in the Summer Abroad program are broken down into tuition and program fees, which are applied to your Campus Accounts Receivable System (CARS) account by the Summer Abroad program staff as follows:

  UC Students Visiting Students
Tuition $2,436 $2,580
Program Fee $3,740 $3,740
Total Cost* $6,176 $6,320

Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
In addition to the fees outlined above, we have estimated costs for additional out-of pocket expenses below to better help you plan for the program. These are the figures that will be used in calculating your financial aid package.

Expense Type Amount
International Airfare and Transportation $1,900
Additional Meals $0
Books $300
Personal Expenses $215
Total Estimated Out-Of-Pocket Expenses* $2,415

*Please note that this amount is only an estimate of what you might spend. The actual amount will vary depending on your lifestyle.

What is included?

Tuition is based on a per unit cost:
*The UC undergraduate student rate is $406 per unit
*The visiting student rate for all non-UC participants is $430 per unit
You will receive 6 units of UC Berkeley credit for the successful completion of this program.
Please Note: Currently posted fees are subject to change.

Program Fee
The Summer Abroad program fee includes the following items:

  • Student housing in a hotel in Madaba including 3 meals/day
  • Excursions to Petra, Jerash, Amman, etc.
  • On-site orientation activities, including an introduction to Dhiban and Jordan, etc.
  • Travel insurance to cover accident/sickness medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, security extraction, and other travel assistance services
  • Other program-related costs including fees for museum entry, group transportation, guest lecturers, second breakfast, site access fees, etc.
  • The initial non-refundable deposit of $400, which is due at the time of application, is applied to the program fee.

The following items are excluded from the program fee:

  • International airfare
  • Personal expenses (souvenirs, routine medical expenses, toiletries, etc.)
  • Course materials (textbooks and readers)
  • Other travel expenses (passport, visa-- if applicable, etc.)
  • Commuting costs for daily travel to and from classes (if applicable)

Financial Aid
Financial aid is available for UC Berkeley students who are enrolled in at least 6 units during the summer. All other students should contact the financial aid office at their home institution for more information.

Benjamin Porter, Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology

Benjamin Porter is an anthropological archaeologist whose research interests span past and contemporary Middle Eastern societies.  He earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania’s Anthropology Department in 2007.  He is now an assistant professor of Near Eastern archaeology in the University of California, Berkeley’s Near Eastern Studies Department and a curator in the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology.  He co-directs three archaeological projects including the Dhiban Excavation and Development Project and the Khirbat at-Mudayna al-‘Aliya Project, both located in Jordan.  He is also co-director of the Dilmun Bioarchaeology Project that is publishing the results of Peter Cornwall’s expedition to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.  His research interests include social life in past Near Eastern societies, materials, technologies, and the intellectual history and disciplinary dilemmas of Near Eastern archaeology.

About the Dhiban Project (
The Dhiban Excavation and Development Project (DEDP) investigates the archaeology, environment, and history of Dhiban, a Middle Eastern town located today in west-central Jordan.  Dhiban has been settled intermittently over the past five millennia and is today the largest town on the Dhiban Plateau.

Started in 2004, the DEDP is a collaborative project involving scholars from Europe, the Middle East, and North America.

The project’s work week begins on Sunday morning and ends Thursday evening.  Each work day begins with a first breakfast at 4:15am in the hotel in Madaba prior to leaving for Dhiban on rented buses at 4:45am.  A few participants stay in Madaba to process excavated artifacts with the object registrar.  Students arrive at the site around 5:30 am to start the workday. Field school members work together with hired workmen from Dhiban until 1:00pm. On most days, the work is hot (between 75 and 95+ degrees F), dusty, and physically demanding.  Students should be in at least average physical shape and have a tolerance for dirty conditions, walking up and down hills, and carrying equipment.  There is a 30-minute break for second breakfast and a later 15-minute break for tea.  Buses leave the site to return to Madaba at 1 PM and lunch is eaten in the hotel restaurant at 2:00pm. Students have free-time until 4PM.  During most evenings, students will participate in afternoon lab exercises with staff.  During instructional evenings once or twice per week, students will meet in a classroom in the hotel. Dinner is served at 7PM in the hotel dining room. After dinner, students can explore Madaba, do laundry, read course materials, or catch up on email.  Students are encouraged to go to bed by 9PM each night in order to be rested for the next day’s work.

Weekends begin on Thursday night at 6PM and last until Saturday night at 8PM. Fieldtrips are scheduled for most weekends. On weekend days where no events are scheduled, students have the freedom to explore Jordan, leaving on their own from the tourist hub of Madaba. During these trips, students are not under the instructor’s supervision.

About Dhiban
Dhiban is a Jordanian town located in Madaba Governorate, approximately 70 kilometers south of Amman and east of the Dead Sea. Previously nomadic, the modern community settled the town in the 1950s. Today, Dhiban is approximately 15,000 members strong, with many working in the army, government agencies, or in seasonal agricultural production.  A number of young people study in nearby universities in Karak, Madaba, and Amman.  Most inhabitants practice Islam.

About Madaba
Madaba is the capital city of Madaba Governorate of Jordan, which has a population of about 60,000. Madaba is the fifth most populous town in Jordan.  It is best known for its Byzantine and Umayyad mosaics, especially a large Byzantine-era mosaic map of The Holy Land.  Madaba is located 30 kilometers south-west of the capital Amman.

Accommodations & Meals
Students will stay in a hotel in Madaba and will be provided with 3 meals/day

Weather & Climate
On most days, the work is hot (between 70 and 90 degrees F), dusty, and physically demanding. The team waits out the worst of the heat of the day in the on-site lunch tent.

U.S. Department of State Country Specific Information for Jordan

Jordanian Ministry of Tourism

Lonely Planet

Jordanian Embassy in the U.S.