The Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Area D1: 2000

Area D 1: 2000. On the southern side of the tel, two five-unit teams completed the excavation of area D1 west and east, respectively. The first team, led by Danica Stitz and including two units from UC Santa Barbara, completed the job begun in 1998 of sorting out the stratigraphical problems that have plagued this area since the beginning of excavation in the 1980s. As a bonus they found a fine Persian-period deposit of East Greek and other pottery and a monumental water basin. A molded wall-base (toichobate) found in 1998 turned out to be part of a large, apparently open, late Hellenistic or early Roman rectangular structure stretching to the north. We suspect an altar-court, but were unable to finish tracing this foundation before the season ended.

Meanwhile, the eastern team, led by led by Catherine McGowan, continued to excavate the massive rectangular building long ago nicknamed the "Persian Palace." Increasingly, however, we believe that its date should indeed be lowered to the beginning of the Hellenistic period, and are inclined to identify its preserved lower story as a massive storehouse. In its central and western rooms we looked in vain for its floors, but instead came up with a splendid early Hellenistic terracotta statuette of Kybele and a Hellenistic pit containing several fragments of a Doric temple or portico in plastered kurkar and limestone, and a Nike akroterion: our first piece of Greek monumental sculpture ever. The proportions of the columns and the style of the Nike indicate that this Doric building was probably constructed in the late third-early second centuries B.C., and the pottery in the pit suggests that it was probably destroyed and dumped there around 150-125. Antiochos VII Sidetes and Simon Maccabee's siege of Diodotos Tryphon in 139/38 and Alexander Jannaeus's successful attack on the tyrant Zoilos in 100 or 99 are obvious candidates.

Helenistic Nike akroterion,
around 2nd century BC

A second, early Roman pit on the eastern side of the "Palace" yielded fruits of another kind: numerous fragments of a beautiful mosaic of fruits, flowers, and masks from Athenian New Comedy. Its technique is opus vermiculatum, using a stunning range of colors in stone and glass tesserae that sometimes measure less than 2 mm across. This mosaic, now expertly restored by Orna Cohen, mounted, and displayed in the "Glasshouse" at Nachsholim, is equal to anything known from contemporary Alexandria, Delos, Pergamon, Pompeii, and Herculaneum. Dating to the second century B.C., it probably embellished the floor of a palatial dining-room or andron.

Excavating the mosaic

Completed mosaic of a mask of a young
man from an Attic New Comedy, 2nd century BC

Detail of the mosaic

These important new Hellenistic finds will be published in 2003 in Hesperia, the journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, by Andrew Stewart and the mosaic's discoverer, Rebecca Martin.

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

Please direct all excavation related inquiries to Professor Sarah Stroup at
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