The Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Area F: 1994

This season, we continued digging Mount Rainer (the temple floor) and the massive robber trench above Garstang's cut, and opened four--later six--new squares on the top of the mound between F1 and the new squares we opened there last year. Mount Rainer, we soon learned, still holds plenty of surprises. Almost no architecture at all was found after four weeks, just robber-trenches. Fortunately, though, there was a steady stream of small finds, including many coins and a superb late Hellenistic bronze lamp ornamented with swans' heads: among the best such discoveries we've made to date. Finally, in the last week of the excavation, we found the foundation to the niche wall, still running southward but stopping mysteriously just shy of the S. balk, and as a bonus, a big Phoenician crenellation.

And there was "Theodor." Lying on his back in an E-W direction behind the "niche-wall," with his head neatly removed by the foundation trench of the late Hellenistic/Roman wall behind him (except for one tooth and a fragment of jaw), he presented us not only with a really difficult task of excavation, but also with an archaeological enigma. The enigma was that his pelvis and everything below it was missing, but the foundation trench to the niche wall didn't begin until about a foot below (to the west of) the last vertebra of his backbone. It seems that he was laid out there after the niche wall was put in, perhaps as early as the third century B.C.E., and with his lower body already missing! A burial in a temple? The world wonders!

The large robber trench soon yielded the foundation to the east wall of the temple; less than a meter across, it cannot have supported the huge ashlars of the northern and western foundations, but must have held a much lighter wall. This, in turn, reinforced our growing belief that the "temple" was not a standard rectangular shrine. The new squares up on the main mound also yielded major results. We found the continuation of the Great Wall, with two large piers jutting out to the east: we conjecture that these may be the gate-posts to the sanctuary entrance. We also found the continuation of the Embarcadero to the point where it had been cut by the inner sanctuary wall, proving that the whole Embarcadero phase is early Roman and the sanctuary complex is later: probably second-century C.E. Finally, one of the site architects (John Berg) noticed a suspicious-looking gap in the line of the inner wall, and realised that he was looking at the inner entrance to the sanctuary itself, framed by two small piers.

So the hypothesis we formulated last year, that the "temple" was not of conventional Roman type but an open precinct, seems vindicated. Approaching from the mound, one would have entered it halfway along its eastern side, passed through the inner gate, and walked across a causeway to the main building. This, John Berg and Andrew Stewart suggest, consisted simply and solely of the great Ionic colonnade (standing on the massive ashlar foundation) whose remains we all know so well; it was |_____| - shaped, faced east, and had no roof. To judge by the other foundations, cobbled floors, and remains of the smaller Ionic order found in 1992 and 1993, it contained several small shrines. The two north and south doors and the staircases we found in 1986 and 1991 must have led to service corridors between this precinct and the sea-wall. (Garstang found them blocked up, which proves that they could not have been the principal entrances to the complex.) The niche wall and its associated structures are probably all that survives of its Hellenistic predecessor.

Hellenistic bronze lamp ornamented with swans' heads
Skeletal remains of 'Theodor'

Yearly reports for Area F:
1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997

Please direct all excavation related inquiries to Professor Sarah Stroup at
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