Tel Dor Excavation Project

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Dor 2010 Preliminary Report

Area D4 (Hellenistic and Roman Periods)

Work was resumed here in the squares excavated last season (AN-AO/15-17) with an addition of one square (AP/15) which was last excavated in 2009. We focused mainly on the removal of the remaining structures associated with the Roman-period complex of Phases D4/1a–2b, in order to further expose the large (palatial?) building of the Hellenistic period. Understanding this latter building is the main goal of the current excavations in D4. Removal of the Roman walls provided a better understanding of the architectural development within Phase 1 and, inter alia, uncovered two re-used fragments of plaster-coated fluted columns, which must belong to one of the underlying Hellenistic structures.

Phase D4/5. Only one portion of a rubble wall was uncovered to date under the Phases D4/4–3 architecture (below). It apparently also dates to the Hellenistic period.

Figure 14. Area D4, aerial view, looking north with Phases D4/4–3 walls.

Figure 15. Area D4, looking north with Phases D4/4–3 walls (p10D4-9642).

Phases D4/4-3: Hellenistic. These two phases (Figs. 14, 15) comprise two distinct sets of walls, but the relation between them is unclear and at present there is not even direct stratigraphical evidence to indicate which set might be the earlier of the two or whether they might have been contemporaneous. These two complexes are dubbed below the "Monumental Hellenistic Structure" and the "Thin ashlars walls structure." The "Monumental Hellenistic Structure" is part of a very large Hellenistic complex in the southern-western part of the tell, one of the largest buildings of this period in the southern Levant. Its southwestern wing has been excavated by Stern's expedition, erroneously assigned to the Persian period and dubbed "The Persian Palace" (for the extant plan of this complex, see ESI *** Fig. 7). In Area D4 the defining wall of this structure is an ashlar wall (W05D4-060b), built in the "Compartment building" style. The "Thin ashlars walls structure" comprises two dovetailing ashlar (headers-only) walls (W09D4-554, W09D4-553, of which the latter runs parallel to W05D4-060b to W05D4-060b, with the gap between them being only about 25 cm wide. Both walls have only one regular face (the external faces of both), while their inner faces are irregular, indicating that they were underground and not visible. In addition, there are two features in the southern part of the area which seem to belong with the Monumental Structure (or perhaps with both phases—as suggested below). In the west is a squarish ashlar pier two courses high (W08D4-363) with a mason's mark (a sigma) on one of the stones; and east of it is a square construction of approximately the same size, composed of four fluted kurkar column shafts, with some rubble in-between (W09D4-584; Fig. 16). No new features relating to Phases D4/4–3 were uncovered this year (other than further portions of W05D4-060b), but re-analysis of the relationship between the two complexes may indicate that the stratigraphical scenario may have to be reversed. Originally it was believed that the "Monumental Hellenistic Structure", including the two piers, belong to Phase D4/3, and the thin header walls are earlier, i.e. Phase D4/4. Several considerations, however, indicate that the thin headers walls might be constructionally later than the wide wall of the monumental structure. This would fit the situation in the adjacent Areas D1 and D2, where further parts of these to architectural complexes where uncovered. It is quite possible that the thin headers walls were constructed as a modification to the structure created by the wide compartment walls And that from a certain point all the walls served together, forming a double-wall foundation of a public building of some sort. Preliminary analysis of the pottery in the fills reaching all these walls point to a date in the 3rd – first half of the second centuries BCE.

Figure 16. Area D4, pier constructed of fluted column shafts, looking east (with Roman wall in background) (p10D4-9603).

A pre-Season find

Cleaning the metal artifacts of the 2009 season revealed that one of the metal objects uncovered in a Hellenistic pit in Area D5 East is a bezel of a ring, with the face of a highly-executed male figure, possibly Apollo, stamped into it.


In Area D2, the high western baulk was stabilized by draping a plasticized net over it and built sandbag buttresses against the northeastern and eastern baulks. The tops of the major walls in the area were covered by sandbags and overhanging walls in baulks were also supported by sandbag "constructions".

In Area D5, as part of long term restoration process it was decided to construct a suitable drainage system to the lower part of the area (AV/9) which is also the lower most part of D5. Bordered from the south by the large Iron Age II fortification wall (W05D1-548c) which is built directly above bed-rock, there is a tangible danger that the area becomes a puddle during the winter. Therefore the area was filled up to the level of the second course of W05D1-548c and drainage pipe was driven through the southern baulk, in the gap between W09D5-810 and W09D5-811.

In Area D1, conservation work continued on the walls of the Hellenistic massive structure, unearthed during Stern's excavations.