Dr. Shimon Gibson

Dr Shimon Gibson is a British-born archaeologist working in Jerusalem, where he is a Senior Associate Fellow at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Archaeology in the History Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Gibson undertook his academic studies at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London, where he completed in 1995 his PhD on Landscape Archaeology in the southern Levant. Between 1996 and 1999 Gibson served as Assistant Director of the Excavations and Surveys Department in the Israel Antiquities Authority. From 2000 he headed the Archaeology Department of the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. During the past twenty years Gibson has conducted numerous archaeological excavations and field surveys in different parts of Israel/Palestine, including the southern desert region. His principal research interests are: Landscape Archaeology; History of Archaeology; History and Archaeology of Jerusalem; early Judaism and early Christianity; History of Photography in the Middle East. Gibson has directed excavations at Sataf, Modi’in, Suba, and in Jerusalem.

Dr. James D. Tabor

Dr. James D. Tabor is co-director of the Mt Zion Excavation. He is professor of Christian Origins and Ancient Judaism in the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught since 1989, having previously held positions at Notre Dame and William and Mary. In the March 2000 he teamed up with Dr. Shimon Gibson and a pioneering group of UNC Charlotte students to excavate the Suba “John the Baptist” Cave near Ein Kerem (2000-2005). Gibson and Tabor also discovered and published the “Tomb of the Shroud” that contains the remains of the only 1st century Jewish burial shroud ever found. Since 2007 they have been co-directors of the Mt Zion Excavation with UNC Charlotte as the academic sponsor. Tabor’s research focus is on the dynamics of Jewish and early Christian apocalypticism.

Dr. Rafi Lewis

School Site



Area Supervisors

Dr. Rebekah Welton- Lower Area Supervisor

Rebekah is the Area Supervisor for the Lower Area of the dig site. She is in her third year of a PhD in food and alcohol in the Hebrew Bible at the University of Exeter in the UK. In September 2017 she will be in the US at Brown University for a short visiting research fellowship and SBL in Boston. This is her fifth year digging at Mount Zion and is quite thrilled to be back!

                                       Christy Grobmeier-Lower Area Assistant Supervisor



 Jonathan Hutchings-Upper Area Supervisor

Lynette Matthews- Upper Area Assistant Supervisor

Lynette graduated from the University of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. She is a former professional athlete and has been a staff member for Dig Mount Zion for four seasons now.


Melanie Smad- Upper Area Assistant Supervisor

Melanie Samad lives in Teaneck, NJ. She graduated from Rutgers University, New Brunswick this past May with a double major in General Anthropology and Religion and a minor in Jewish Studies.  She is currently in her fourth season in the field and her third consecutive season at Mt. Zion.  In 2014, Melanie participated in an archaeological field school through Rutgers University in Vacone, Italy excavating the site of an ancient Roman villa.  

William Stumpff- Lower Area Supervisor

Will Stumpff is an undergraduate student of Shimon Gibson at UNCC. He plans on becoming an American archaeologist or working in a museum as his future career. He is currently training in floatation and is excited to continue his archaeological career.



Surveying and Recording

Dr. Steve Patterson- Precision Imaging/Engineering

Dr. Patterson graduated from the University of California at Davis with a M.S. and Ph.D. in Applied Science. He recently complete a M.A. in Biblical Studies from the Dallas Theological Seminary. Along with his vast professional career, he currently teaches at UNCC as the SPX Distinguished Professor of Engineering within the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Science

Yishai Elder- Site Draughtsman

Yishai L. S. (Scott) Elder, staff architectural draftsman.  Born and raised in Seattle and has been living in Jerusalem since 1969.  He was the surveyor and draftsman on the original 1971-73 Beit Caiphas / Mt Zion digs.


Site Operational Logistics

Suzanne Johnson- Group Participant Coordinator

Suzanne is the Dig Coordinator and coordinates all the staff people and registering and preparing artifacts for publications. She keeps the dig alive. It’s her 5th dig. Fascinated with biblical history and archaeology. Camaraderie on this dig is unlike anywhere else. It’s an honor to participate. Keeping in touch with Dig Alumni and potential volunteers for next years. “Hello from Jerusalem!”

Dr. Johnathan Silver- Site Logistics Coordinator

Dr. Johnathan Silver holds a Ph.D. in History and two M.A.’s–one in education, and one in history. He is the Head Master of a Private School in Hawaii. His fields of study are 18th, 19th, and 20th century history of childhood, youth, and adolescence. For him, archaeology is a way to stay connected to historical interests: he likes history and he likes to understand. He is currently on his 6th year of digging on Mount Zion but has participated in 3 archaeological digs. He has loved Dig Mount Zion because he likes Jerusalem, the staff and participants, and that this dig is affiliated with a university.

Scott Fox M.D.- Medical Director

Dr. Fox wanted to pursue archaeology as an advocation, however he was pressured into another path early in life. After he retired from a successful career as a physician and attorney had took the opportunity to pursue his life long dream–archeology. He began his archeological pursuits in Israel in 2006. In 2015 a Dig Mount Zion staff member told him he should give Mount Zion a try. He began digging with Mount Zion that very year. He looks forward to this dig every year particularly because of the Multitude of history on the site and because he really enjoys Jerusalem.


Mordechai Abraham-Site Logistics



Loy H. Witherspoon Mt. Zion Archaeological Headquarters Staff

Gretchen Cotter- Finds Sorting

Gretchen is a California native who was born in Hollywood, lived in San Francisco, and recently moved to a Palm Springs.  Prior to her retirement ten years ago, Gretchen worked for a large western bank as a Capacity Planner/Performance Analyst on mainframe computer systems.  There is no truth to the rumor that she started her career mucking out the horse stables.  Her favorite hobbies are reading, traveling to unusual places, and volunteering on archaeological digs in Israel.  She lives alone with her companion parrot, Snip.  They have been together for 27 years.

Virginia Withers- Site Photographer

After raising her son, Virginia decided to go back to school and received a degree in history, art history, and nearly completed a degree in Religious Studies. While in school she met a professor who was an archaeologist and took her to a dig in northern Israel. After hearing about Dig Mount Zion she decided to attend. She is currently in her 6th year at the dig and keeps coming back because  she always wanted to be an archaeologist. With a supportive husband she is now able to fulfill her dreams. It’s a challenge and it keeps her growing, but most of all, she loves the people she meets on the dig from around the world.

Amy Wenn- Pottery Washing

For the past four years, Amy has participated in the Mt Zion Dig in many field areas. Her joy is pottery washing, although by profession, she is an RN-BSN. To her, discovering the ancient way is truly an honor and delight!


Aron Levy, John Hoffmann, Cherylee and Ron Vanderham, and Patty and David Tyler, and others.


External Experts

Dr. Anna de Vincenz- Contract Coordinator for Publications

Dr. Orna Cohen- Conservation

Dr. David Jacobson- Numismatist

Dr. Eric Lapp- Lychnologist

Dr. Ram Bouchnik (and team)- Archaeo-zoologist

Julia Rudman- Ceramic Draftsperson