About the Program
Every spring, students from U.C. Berkeley and Stanford University are invited to apply to participate in Ron Hassner's "Battlefields of the Holy Land" fall seminar. The twenty students selected for the program — ten from each campus — meet during the fall semester to study the military history of the Levant, including some of the oldest and most significant battles in recorded history. Seminar participants meet on the Berkeley and Stanford campuses to read and attend lectures together. They cover geography, ancient, medieval, and modern history, as well as a brief foray into contemporary conflicts in the region. Over the course of the class, each student selects two battlefields of interest to study at greater depth.
Successful seminar participants join Professor Hassner in a ten-day academic trip to Israel organized around the battles studied in the seminar. They include Egyptian, Assyrian, Macedonian, Roman, Judaean, early and late Muslim, Mongolian, Napoleonic and Ottoman battles as well as several 20th century battlefields. The itinerary traverses central, northern, and southern Israel, culminating in an extensive exploration of Jerusalem's military history. Along the way, students brave fortresses and supply tunnels, engage in archaeological excavation, examine relevant historical artifacts and military technology, and explore borders, resources, and topography. At their battlefields of choosing, students act as tour guides for their peers, leading them through the archaeological remains and sharing their research findings. In their spare time, participants will have an opportunity to explore Israel's diverse religious and cultural landscape.
This program is made possible by the support of the Helen Diller Foundation and other generous donors as part of the Helen Diller Institute’s Cross-Bay Israel Studies Initiative.