The Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Area D1 (and D4): 2006

This was UC Berkeley's eighteenth season at Dor, under the general direction of Professor Ilan Sharon (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).  The UC Berkeley-U. Washington team was led by Andrew Stewart (History of Art & Classics), assisted by Allen Estes as field director.  The team totaled 11 staff and 40 volunteers (30 on-site at any one time), some of whom elected to dig “early” ((Sikil, Phoenican, Israelite, Assyrian) material with the Israelis.  It included five graduate students on scholarships generously funded by the College of Letters and Science and a number of undergraduates partially funded by the Gilbert Foundation through the Archaeological Research Facility.  The six-week excavation campaign lasted from late June through early August.  Classics, AHMA, NES, History of Art, and Anthropology Department staff members included Becky Martin (assistant field director), Rebecca Karberg (area supervisor), Ryan Boehm, Evan Elliott, and Dana diPietro (unit supervisors), and Nicole Child and Raina Chao (recorders).  Also on staff were John Yelding-Sloan (area supervisor; professional archaeologist and longtime Dor veteran) and Ian Milliken (unit supervisor; Dor veteran ‘05).

Although the Israeli-Lebanon-Hezbollah war started just before mid-season, we continued to dig even so.  A few volunteers elected to return home, but most stayed, as did all of the staff, the latter gritting their teeth and hourly repeating the mantra that “when bombs fall the safest place is down a hole, so dig faster and more carefully!”  Yet all joking apart, we are deeply grateful to everyone who remained, especially those under heavy pressure from families and friends to quit and call it a day.  Fortunately, we were just out of range of the Katyushas, but not of the bigger rockets, a few of which passed overhead en route to Hadera and Caesarea.  And of course we could hear (and sometimes see) the explosions in Haifa and Atlit.  Nevertheless, we finished out the season as planned, although because of the drop in personnel, we didn't get quite as much done as we'd hoped.  But even so . . .

In the “pit”, we focused again on the Big Building (an extensive Roman complex that at various times housed a bath, an industrial establishment for processing liquids, and what may have been a bakery) and its Hellenistic predecessors.  In the Big Building, we completed the excavation of the hypocaust, and on its western side a hard slog through its largely robbed foundations finally got us down to the late Hellenistic period and the continuation of what may be a palatial complex.  The Israelis excavated its southeastern quadrant in the 1990s, and we now have most of its southern and western walls.  Though apparently gutted inside, it remains the best candidate for the location of our amazing garland and mask mosaic discovered in 2000.  One bonus was a group of fragments of a fine Attic red-figure krater showing Dionysos, Ariadne, and attendant maenads.

Meanwhile, new topsoil squares to the west of the “big building” uncovered part of a Crusader cobbled floor (dated by a fragment of a bifacial Christian inscription found under it, perhaps from the altar rail of the early Byzantine church).  This may be the forecourt of the Crusader citadel.  Beneath these cobbles and the heavily damaged remains of the Roman east-west street, we came across more of our late Hellenistic “Monument.”  This now turns out to be not one but two rectangular buildings placed cheek-by-jowl next to each other, whose plans suspiciously resemble small (5x8 m) Hellenistic tetrastyle prostyle temples.  Do we now have a home for the numerous Doric colonnade fragments and other architectural blocks that we’ve been discovering over the past few years?  We fervently hope so.

So the later occupational sequence on this side of the city is now clear.  In this single huge insula, the south-westernmost one of the city, the Hellenistic free-standing monumental buildings were gradually encroached upon by smaller structures, then gave way entirely to small, early Roman industrial establishments.  Then around 100 CE came a resurgence of monumental (but not necessarily non-industrial) building.  Around 230 CE, the area was abandoned along with the rest of the city, for reasons unknown, and about a thousand years later reoccupied by the Crusaders when they came to build the fort of Merle on the site’s southwestern promontory.  A rich haul.

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

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