The Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Area D1: 1998

In 1998, the UC Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition expanded its operations to include the excavation of Area D1. This area had been dug sporadically over the last 15 years, both by Hebrew University and by the University of Saskatchewan. It is located above the southern harbor, just west of Area D2 and the large trench that John Garstang opened in the southern slope of the tel in the 1920s.

The focus of attention in this area, this season as in the past, is a public building of unknown use that has been assigned to the Persian period (with occupation running through the early Hellenistic). It is a massive structure, with walls 1.3 meters wide and a layout of four large halls stretching across the northern part of the area. The building is of special note for the construction of its walls, which is closely related to the a-telaio ("in frames") method used in Punic cities in the western Mediterranean. This season, in new units opened along the eastern side of the area, we discovered that the building has one more large hall before it terminates somewhere in between Areas D1 and D2. The final plan of the building is thus as follows: four north-south halls and one very long east-west hall that stretches across the structure at the north. Working in the two center north-south halls, we also discovered that the building may be somewhat later than has previously been thought. In the center-west hall, we identified foundation trenches for the building that included late Persian-early Hellenistic pottery (mid to late fourth century BCE); this same assemblage was recovered from below a floor of the building that we exposed in the center- east hall. If the building was in fact constructed sometime late in the fourth century, then we may want to associate it with the re-building of the city in the Hellenistic period (its thick walls bear some resemblance to the Hellenistic city wall), though any conclusions would be premature at this time.

In our work on the large "Persian" building, particularly in the new units on the eastern side of the area, we also encountered additional remains of the Roman-period insula here (a large complex of rooms, industrial installations, paved alcoves, passageways, and courtyards), and the later Hellenistic structures below. Elsewhere in the area, we exposed a small early Persian complex of rooms and exterior courtyard that may be related to a purple dye manufacturing installation discovered here in 1986 (still the most complete and well preserved such complex found in the Levant). An unexpected discovery was the emergence of a large and finely-built structure in a new unit opened at the north-west corner of the area. The nature and date of this structure is still unclear, but given that it sits at what we expect to be the entrance to the akropolis of the city, it may very well be part of a monumental gate-way.

The pits and fills in the center two halls of the large public building were especially rich with small finds, many of which were cultic in nature. These included a number of eastern and western (Greek) style terracotta figurines (among which was a beautiful Greek painted ceramic figure of a boy feeding a rabbit), "Egyptian" faience amulets and small figures, Phoenician and Greek ostraca, as well as small votive vessels and jewelry. Here and elsewhere in the area, we also recovered an unusually high number of very fine oil lamps, including an intact late Roman discus lamp decorated with a wolf attacking a gazelle and stamped with the name of its maker: FAUSTI.

Yearly reports for Area D:
1998, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006

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