Winter Trip to Israel: Battlefields of the Holy Land

winter trip to israel battlefields of the holy land

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.

"I’m not being dramatic, but this trip has changed my life. I am coming away from this trip with a thirst to learn more about Israel and the larger Middle East, and am excited to quench it in the near future. Thank you to everyone who made this trip possible, I am a better human because of it."

— Stanford Neural Engineering Major

"This trip has been not only the most enjoyable and fascinating trip I’ve been on, but has also been the most academically stimulating trip I’ve been on. You will finish this trip with an understanding of history, warfare, culture, and religion that is only available in Israel."

— UC Berkeley Political Science Major