Tel Dor Excavation Project

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Dor 2006 Preliminary Report

Area D2


Area D2 has been excavated for a long time (since 1984 - Stern 1985) and by now we thought the area would no longer offer any surprises. Its well-established stratigraphic scheme is as follows:

# Defining architecture Period
Phase 1 Thick-walled cement building, w. paved street, drain, etc Roman
Phase 2 Thin-walled ashlar courtyard building, paved street, drain, etc Roman
Phase 3 Thin 'ashlar pier' walls Late Hellenistic
Phase 4 Thick-walled 'Big Mamma' Building - attached to 'Persian Palace' in D1 Hellenistic
Phase 5 Initial construction of insula - thin 'ashlar-pier' walls Persian & Intermediate Persian | Hellenistic
Phase 6 Pits & industrial waste-area Late IrA
Phase 7 Massive ashlar walls & crushed kurkar floors Ir2a?
Phase 8 'Benni's House' with 3 superimposed floors, the 'Monumental Building' Ir1|2 - Ir2a
Phase 9-10 The 'Brick Building', initial construction of the 'Monumental Building' Ir1b
Phase 11 ntermediate occupation, under The 'Brick Building' and the 'Monumental Building' Ir1a|b?
Phase 12-13 Rubble structure ('Nati's Building) Ir1a?
Phase 14 Pockets in bedrock MB - Ir1a

Nevertheless, this season leads us to suspect that this scheme has missed a stage: within phase 7 there may be at least two major construction episodes.

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Phase 7 - Iron Age IIA(?)

Phase 7 was excavated in the main area - 'central D2' in the early '90's (Stern, Berg, Gilboa, Sharon and Zorn 1997) - the main features recognized at the time were a massive header wall (W10606) in the NW corner of the area (unit AN/13) and several segments of thick crushed-kurkar floors - that either reached the very top-of or covered the ashlar corner of the 'monumental structure' in AL/12. These two features were assumed to be contemporary, although they were never observed in conjunction. They were also assumed, on admittedly skimpy evidence, to date to the Iron Age IIB (our 'Ir2b' horizon).

Upon reopening excavation in 'upper D2' in 2004, we found another header wall (W04D2-065 in AO/13), perpendicular to W10606. This wall was found higher, but the natural working hypothesis was that these two walls belong to the same structure, and would eventually form a "T" junction (Figure 12, Web report). We also found a series of kurkar surfaces, very similar to the ones found ten years earlier in central D2. The uppermost of these clearly reached W04D2-065, and lower ones either reached it, or were cut by its stone-filled foundation trench.

Figs. 12, 13

We had been perplexed for some time by the fact that no E-W wall (or the robber trench for one) appeared to corner the southern edge of W10606. This year we found out that at least one of the kurkar surfaces apparently associated with W04D2-065 on the south, extends over, and at least partly seals the southern edge of W10606. North of W04D2-065, in AN14, kurkar surfaces were found over the line of W10606 too, with no indication of a robber trench.

Renumbering the D2 scheme based on our current provisional understanding of the area would create untold confusion - as it is by now quite widely published. We shall therefore call W04D2-065 and the associated kurkar surfaces "phase 7a" and W10606 will be provisionally designated "7b". It should be born in mind, however, that these may well stand for more than a raising of floor level or changing local partitions - which is what we usually indicate by sub-phase labels, and may in fact designate a complete changeover on the architecture in the area.

The exact delineation of the kurkar surfaces and their division into subphases (or sub-subphases as the case may be) has also proven problematic. While as many as four have been found in one spot, others have only one or two. They also slope in various directions (generally but not always from north to south and from west to east) and are discontinuous. In at least one spot several of them appear to merge together to form a single thick kurkar 'lump' - and as they separate out they are intertwined with lenses of brown bricky material.

Two related and unsolved questions are the nature and the dating of the kurkary / bricky accumulation. The haphazard and locally variant nature of these layers, as well as the character of the artifacts found in them - usually small sherds with [perhaps - see below] a high proportion of redepositions - seem to indicate that these are constructional fills. In this case the superimposed kurkar layers are not real floors but merely layers of quarry wasters alternating with mud-brick detritus in constructing this fill. They may be a 'standing foundation for the structure of which W04D2-065 is part. On the other hand, interspersed within this accumulation are also phytolith layers, wind-blown sand, as well as apparent erosion and wash. These attest to periods of exposure during the filling process and seem to indicate a long, durative accumulation and an open area.

Date-wise, the sherds from higher surfaces / layers seemed to be largely Ir2a (or nondescript 'Ir2') with very few indicatives of Ir2b or Ir2a|b transition (compare our earlier attribution of phase 7 to Ir2b - Stern, Berg, Gilboa, Sharon and Zorn 1997). These proportions gradually change and on the lowest surfaces the bulk of the pottery seems to be Ir1|2 with only an occasional indicative which is more likely Ir2a. This again contrasts with earlier seasons' observation of phases 8a and 8b with abundant Ir2a ceramics. Are we dealing here with a lengthy accumulation - ranging from Ir1|2 to early ir2b (i.e. at least a hundred years)? Or is all of this phase 7 accumulation a one-time (or two-time, if indeed we have two disparate architectural phases) filling operation[s] with varying proportions of redeposited material? We suspend a final decision on these matters until the architectural picture clarifies itself - and/or until we hit phase 8 (the continuation of 'Benni's house') in future seasons.

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A Comment about Phase 6 (Iron Age IIB-C)

This phase - consisting of pits and industrial activities overlaying / cutting the phase 7 architecture, was hardly dug this season. In unit AN/14 we stopped excavating last year on an accumulation of packed pottery - of the distinct neck-less cylindrical Phoenician transport jars typical of this phase - but this proved to be quite shallow - and the kurkar surfaces of phase 7 were soon found underneath it.

In the big 'Assyrian pit' in AM/14 operations were limited to supplementing last years' sampling of the baulks and the bottom of the pit. However, the advancement of Adi Behar's analysis of the slags and wasters has brought with it better understanding of the industries represented in the pit. It now appears that - contrary to what we thought last year (Web report) there is no evidence for smelting on-site. The wastes we have seem to be from a smithy - working mainly with iron and small amounts of copper. The slag found in the waste heaps is probably hearth-slag (molten iron combining with the hearth-lining).

Another Comment about Phases 8 - 10

'In anticipation of partial back-filling of the north part of 'old D2' for conservation purposes, we cleaned and sampled its northern section (Figure 14).

(p06D2-5001) The northern baulk of 'lower D2' after re-cleaning.


With the assistance of Benni Har-Even, the various floors and features in the baulk were re-identified, and comprehensively sampled with FTIR, blocks were extracted for micromorphology, and - most importantly - olive pits and other short-lived radiocarbon samples were individually hand-picked from the floors (Figure 15).

(p06D2-5002) Olive pits inside floor accumulation of L17385 (phase 9 floor).


A Comment about Later Phases in D2

Between area D2 and the western slope there remains, in units AO/12-11, an unexcavated section, preserving parts of the fašade of the phase 5 - 2 insula and some other associated features. A small group stayed here throughout the season, dismantling late walls and excavation beneath them in order to complete the excavation of the area, recheck the stratigraphy of the facades, and to level off the area in keeping with long-term conservation goals.