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Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

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London, United...
posts: 4
Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

Hello Trip Advisor members,

I am sure this question has been asked a thousand times before but I'm having difficulty parsing through all the threads on this forum so please bear with me.

I am a secular solo traveler who takes a great interest in ancient and religious history. I would love to take a historical/cultural/archeological tour of Israel but whenever I look up Israeli tour groups they're almost always religiously themed in nature (i.e. there's a preacher leading the group or it's a tour group catered to evangelical Christians/hasidic Jews/orthodox Muslims/etc). I am interested in the religious history of Israel but I am not interested in having to stop and pray at every place I go to. I love the religious history and human history of the country and I am fully respectful of its impact on world religions so I don't want to sound like I'm being insensitive, it's just as a nonbeliever I am really not interested in a religiously pushy tour. Are there any really good tour groups you guys can recommend that can give me more of an academic-like experience? I could give myself a tour but I really like having knowledgeable guides to show me around to different places and explain their history and cultural importance.

Thank you for your responses.

Washington State
posts: 2,008
reviews: 11
1. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

IMHO, the Biblical Archaeology Society would be the gold standard in what you're looking for. Not only do they have great scholars on their trips, many places they visit have a special archaeologist meeting them at a particular site.

Here is the web site; unfortunately, none of the upcoming Israel trips have their details posted yet:

http://www.bib-arch.org/travel-study/

Let me warn you, their trips are expensive, but unique. They attract a very knowledgeable group of travelers and that can add a lot to a tour.

Ottawa, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem, Galilee, Tel Aviv
posts: 4,715
reviews: 93
2. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

There are numerous options for someone with your interests and backgrounds.

One is the Biblical Archeology Review trips. They have an Israel trip in October of this year. Guided by archeologists they are non-religious and academic in nature. All kinds of people join these trips.

http://www.bib-arch.org/travel-study/

In Oct/Nov there is another 17 day tour. This is also an archeological tour and is focused on history and not religious in nature. It also includes a Jordan option.

www.archaeologicaltrs.com/me_israel.html

Some tour groups such as Gate1 are not religious in nature but not as academic and have a broader group of participants.

Another option is to plan to come on your own and hire private guides for certain days to accompany you to the sites that are of interest. In many places you don't need a guide such as in museums. You could easily spend a full day at the Israel Museum. Many places have excellent audio guides.

Posting at the same time so duplication of response.

Edited: 7:30 pm, February 18, 2013
London, United...
posts: 4
3. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

Oh my goodness thank you so much, this is absolutely PERFECT for what I was looking for!

Tel Aviv, Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 3,315
reviews: 23
4. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

Plenty of visitors to our country take a 'cultural tourism' secular approach to their touring of Israel. For a cultural tourism focus, a good place to start is all the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Israel. These sites have been deemed worthy of interest and value to all of humanity, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof.

It sounds like intertwining days of independent exploration together with other days involving a guided experience might be best for you.

Whether you choose a group tour or a private guide on certain days, make sure that you dedicate at least a few days to a guided experience in Jerusalem. IMHO it's the most fascinating city on earth.

NYC/Israel
Destination Expert
for Israel
posts: 25,686
reviews: 18
5. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

I looked over the itinerary that was posted and thought about you--a single solo traveler. I think you should do a group tour. While there are times that it is appropriate to use private guides, there is something to be said for traveling with people. There is something to be said for having the company of others. Vacation is seeing and learning, but it is also not being alone. A private guide for a family or couple may many times be the right answer. But I think it is the wrong answe here. Go with the suggestions offered by Dogmeat and anmejoshme. They sound great. ( and overlapped in one instance)

Washington State
posts: 2,008
reviews: 11
6. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

The BAR tour itinerary is now online:

http://www.bib-arch.org/travel-study/israel2013.asp?utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=BHD+Daily%20Newsletter&utm_campaign=E3T301#Itinerary

Edited: 1:35 pm, March 01, 2013
Washington State
posts: 2,008
reviews: 11
7. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

Sorry, something went wrong with the last post's URL. Try this:

www.bib-arch.org/travel-study/israel2013.asp

8. Re: Historical/archeological tour recs for a secular traveler?

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