Dr. Itzhaq Shai is an assistant professor at Ariel University and the head of the Institute of Archaeology at Ariel Univeirsty. He has served as the director of the project since its beginning (the 2009-2012 seasons as co-director with Dr. Joe Uziel). He has extensive experience in field archaeology of different periods. He worked for more than a decade at the Tell es-safi/Gath project and served as director of a number of other excavations. Dr. Shai finished his PhD at Bar Ilan University (under the advising of Prof. Aren Maeir) and was a post-fellow at the Harvard University and a junior research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University.

His published articles deal with the Early Bronze Age in the southern Levant, Philistine material culture, place names and their importance in ethnic identification, the status of Jerusalem in the Iron Age and the political structure of Philistia, the Late Bronze Age remains at Tell es-Saf/Gath, and various publications on the results of the Tel Burna Archaeological Project.