Tel Dor Excavation Project

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Dor 2010 Preliminary Report

Area D2 (Iron Age and Persian Period)

Excavations in this area concentrated on three separate structures/areas.

Iron Age I: "The Bastion"

In the area's northwestern strip of squares (AO/14-12) we continued to excavate the inner par of the so-called "Bastion" structure. The Bastion wall (Fig. 2) is a massive wall founded on bedrock, circumvallating the southwestern part of the wall. In places, it is constructed of huge boulders. The southern part and mostly the outer, eastern face of this massive construction have already been unearthed in the past, by John Garstang, Avner Raban and in Ephraim Stern's excavations. For the last few seasons we have been excavating the continuation of this wall to the north (W08D2-290), inter alia uncovering its inner face (Fig. 2). This season it became clear that similarly to its long-known curve in the south (by the waterfront), the wall also starts to curve in its northernmost known part - toward the west. It therefore seems that the area enclosed by the wall was oval or circular in shape. It also became clear that the Bastion Wall is pyramidal in section - narrow at the top and flaring slightly as it goes down, a very peculiar construction. Different segments of the wall display differing building techniques. Some of the preserved segments of the western face of the wall uncovered are bedded in thick, clean, orangish-brown clay and some portions of it are was faced with small cobbles.

Figure 2. Area D2, the northern part of the Bastion wall (W08D2-290) and Phase D2/13 rooms abutting it, looking south (p10D2-9640).

During the last seasons we have been excavating a structure enclosed by this wall, of which currently we uncovered four narrow rooms aligned as a north–west row abutting the western face of the Bastion wall (they are 1.6 - 2.3 wide end their length is unknown). Their walls have stone socles and mudbrick or pisée superstructures.

The earliest deposits abutting these walls (and the Bastion Wall) were reached in two spots only: in the southernmost room, there was a surface rich in fish bones, including isolated articulated scales, vertebrae, and fins, suggesting formerly whole fish. Too little pottery was uncovered here to date this occupation phase. It probably dates to the early Iron Age, though a few Late Bronze Age fragments uncovered may suggest an earlier date.

Phase D2/13: Ir1a late. The overlying occupation phase within the Bastion is more extensively excavated, and is also better preserved as it ended in a fiery destruction (Fig. 2). From south to north, the first room burned down, causing beams and bricks to collapse onto a floor devoid of remains. The second room also burnt, preserving parts of the ceiling collapse with charred branches criss-crossing the room. Under the collapse in situ pottery was uncovered, comprising mostly store jars (carinated, commercial and oval) flasks decorated with red circles and other vessels (Fig. 3). Clearly, this space was devoted to storage. In addition, beads, multiple fragments of glass, a gold object (bead?), fish bones, and much flint debitage were found here, in addition to a large plank of burnt oak, possibly the remains of a shelf. Previous excavations in this room provide evidence for an upper floor above this storage space. The third room had a 0.2 - 0.4 m deep layer of glycimeris shells, possibly the bedding for a floor. This room neither burned nor yielded any contents. The fourth room is still in the upper stages of the collapse with no signs of burning. It yielded for the time being fragments of large and small flasks decorated with red concentric circles; a flint core, blade, and debitage.

Figure 3. Area D2, crushed pottery in the lower story of the Phase D5/13 building inside the bastion.

By the pottery uncovered this season in the destruction deposits it is clear that this phase dates to the horizon termed at Dor Ir1a late. This fits the situation in all other excavation areas at Dor that reached the appropriate depth (Areas B, D5, G), where structures of the same horizon also ended in a conflagration. In the area excavated in the past by Stern just outside (east of) the Bastion wall, the contemporaneous Ir1a late structure (Phase D2/13), also revealed signs of a violent end. This structure, however, was about 2.5 - 3.0 m lower than the structure we are excavating inside the Bastion wall. This means that the area enclosed by this latter wall was indeed an elevated acropolis of sorts. Bases on ceramic (and not stratigraphical) consideration, the destroyed phase within the Bastion wall is thus also termed Phase D2/13.

Figure 4. Area D2, view of the eastern room of ´Benny's house´ of Phase D5/8, between the bastion wall (left) and ´Taphat´s wall´ (right) looking north.

It is clear that following the fiery destruction, some of the walls of the afore-mentioned rooms were still standing and activity was resumed above the destruction debris. In previous seasons a small cultic installation was uncovered above the southernmost room. North of it there were mainly phytolith and ash surfaces (reaching the walls) and a trough-shaped installation or pit. Post-destruction accumulations were best preserved in the northernmost unit within the Bastion (AO/14). Not enough pottery has been uncovered to date this occupation accurately. It either also belongs to Ir1a late or is slightly later (Ir1a/b, using the Dor terminology). In the latter case it would parallel Phase D2/12 outside the bastion, excavated by Stern.

Early Iron Age II: ´Benny's House´

Phase D2/8: Ir1|2 and/or Ir2a. In Squares AO-AN/14 we excavated part of two rooms, belonging to a structure whose excavation commenced during Stern's excavations, and so-called ´Benny´s House´ (Fig. 4). It is situated outside the Bastion wall and abuts it from the east. Stern's excavations uncovered mostly one partial room of this house, in which two main phases were defined, both of which ended in destruction: the lower one, Phase 8c, dates to the Ir1|2 transition (in Dor terminology; elsewhere this horizon has recently been called early Iron Age IIA), and above it, Phase 8b dates to Ir2a in Dor terminology (elsewhere late Iron Age IIA). This season we started to excavate the room west of the one excavated by Stern (a very small part of this room has already been excavated by him). We uncovered the continuation of the north–south fieldstone wall separating the two rooms and two east–west fieldstone walls running from it westward to the Bastion wall.

In the newly excavated area two phases were defined. In the earlier one there were two rooms here. Successive layers of dense, moist clay provided preserved here organic material, such as a straw-filled bag (?), phytoliths (of grain husks and of reeds, the latter forming a square surface), and bones, including an articulated puppy. In addition, there were here many restorable vessels, mostly of domestic nature, including an unusual concentration of small clay goblets the likes of which were also uncovered here in Stern's excavations.

In the later phase there was apparently only one space here, which served for metallurgical activity, as demonstrated by ash, burnt sediments, numerous copper/bronze slags, tuyères, a pot bellows, crucible fragments, and intensive burning. Here too there was pottery in primary deposition crushed on the surfaces. It also produced a unique clay zoomorphic vessel in the shape of a horse and a Post-Rammeside seal depicting a figure holding a crocodile. The stratigraphical correlation between these two phases and those determined in the past in the eastern room of the house is not entirely clear, and it is also currently impossible to assign an exact date to the pottery, though both phases certainly fall in the range of Ir1|2 to Ir2a. Tentatively the lowest phase currently reached is assigned to Phase D2/8b and the upper one (the metallurgy phase) to Phase 8a. For the time being we also cannot rule out the possibility that the metallurgical activity in fact post-dates "Benny's house" and thus constitutes an (Ir2a) intermediate phase between it and the overlying Phase D2/7. "Benny's House" is cut by the foundation trench of the massive ashlar wall uncovered here in previous years, which dates to a later stage of Ir2a (Phase D2/7; so called "Taphat's Palace') and "Benny's House" floors run under that wall.
At a certain point after the destruction of the Phase D2/8 house and before the construction of the Phase D2/7 ashlar structure, extensive parts of the Bastion Wall were robbed, and this massive wall went effectively out of use.

The Persian Period

Figure 5. Area D2, Phase 5 wall with re-used oil-press bed.

In the two southwestern squares (AO/11-12) excavations have not yet reached the early Iron Age levels excavated in the rest of the area, but late Iron Age deposits and the apparent top of an Iron Age wall have been reached towards the end of the season.

Phase D2/5: (5th century BCE). An east-west wall constructed in the Phoenician style comprising fieldstones and ashlars (W09D2-381) continued to be unearthed. It incorporated, in secondary use, a massive olive press bed (Fig. 5). This wall is part of the façade of a Persian-period insula, bordering on a street running to its south. Parts of the same façade wall (and the insula itself) have been excavated in more northerly squares, and in Stern's excavations in D2, in units excavated to the east. South of the wall and cut but it, a floor/basin of sorts was uncovered, constructed of an identified red matrix and of unclear function (a similar 'floor' has been excavated above this one during the last season). These red surfaces seem to be the earliest Persian period features in this unit. The fill between them yielded a large collection of Attic and so-called "East Greek" pottery.