The Tel Dor Archaeological Expedition

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Area H : 1999

Tel Dor 1999. This was our thirteenth season at Dor. Directed by Andrew Stewart (History of Art & Classics), assisted by Allen Estes (NES), the team totalled fourteen staff and 48 volunteers, including seven students on scholarships generously funded by the College of Letters and Science; the six-week campaign lasted through July and early August.

Our operations in Area H, above the smaller, southern Roman "temple" foundation, were led by Allen Estes (NES) and John Yelding-Sloan, and concentrated upon extending the excavated area to the north, south, east, and west. On the south, we discovered more of the medieval glacis. The late 13th century pottery we've been finding under it now suggests that it may not have been a Crusader structure, as we first thought, but a Mamluk one. Since after they captured Caesarea, Merle (Dor), and Atlit in 1264 the Mamluks were deadly scared of a Crusader counteroffensive, it was probably built between then and the Sultan Baybars's decision in 1301 to opt for a "scorched earth" policy and to destroy all the coastal cities as an added insurance policy.

Under the glacis, as expected, were more of the Roman ruins that we've been excavating since 1996: the southern end of what may have been the propylon to the late Roman temple, complete with two Doric capitals of the right size for a 6-columned portico, and, below it, more of our residential neighborhood of early Roman shops and associated houses. One room boasted a particularly complicated installation lined with hydraulic plaster for the processing of liquids: a fuller's or a purple-dye workshop? Analysis of the plaster may tell us.

On the east of the Roman main N/S road (the "Embarcadero") we discovered that this settlement pattern changed completely. There, we found a series of big tabuns of uncertain function (bread ovens?)—one of which we carefully dismantled for analysis and reconstruction--and, to the north of these, foundations for a massive building or buildings of equally uncertain use. Finally, on the west, we cleared the rest of the frescoed ashlars from the early Roman buildings destroyed by the temple-builders and discovered that underneath them lay yet more rooms—a kind of shanty settlement right on the beach. All this leaves a lot for us to do next year, particularly in, around, and under the squares to the south and east of the Embarcadero.

Back at Pardes Hanna, Andrew Stewart, Sandra Gambetti, Katherine Dao, and others completed a preliminary catalogue of the 248 boxes (!) of fresco fragments found in 1996 and 1997 and provenienced them to rooms. John Berg completed his survey of the foundations of temple H, and he and Andrew Stewart continued work on a preliminary publication of the Roman levels of F and H.

Area H, end of season 1999

Finally, something bad and something funny. This season, for the first time ever, we were raided at night by a thief with a metal detector, and vandalized by weekend tourists—an ominous development. And second, during our last week, we were visited by none other than the front half of a sperm whale. Swiftly christened "Stinky", he washed up inside the reef right below temple H, where a team of biologists from Haifa (aided by two of our more intrepid volunteers) promptly deprived him of his 10-foot jawbone and skull. They then disappeared, leaving us with a quarter-ton of blubber and every insect in the Middle East to feast on it. Fortunately, we only had to endure this olefactory torture for a couple of days before the season ended, but now everyone on the team knows what the ancient town must have smelled like!

And holding our noses, we then went home!

Yearly reports for Area H:
1996, 1997, 1999 , 2000

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