Area D2 (Iron Age I, II)
The excavation continued around the northern part of the massive ‘Bastion’ wall (W08D2-290), whose upper part was first uncovered in the previous season (Fig. 2). The southern part of this wall was built in Phase D2/13 (early Ir1a horizon) and used until Phase D2/8a (Ir2a horizon). It was first excavated by A. Raban in the 1970s and was mostly exposed in the Stern excavations. The northern end of the wall is robbed and the robber trench extends further north, beyond the limits of the excavation. This year, two large kurkar surfaces were exposed east of this wall, that is, outside the Bastion building. These surfaces are cut by the foundation trench of the ashlar wall (W10606; nicknamed by the excavators ‘Taphat's palace’) dating to the end of Iron Age IIA and/or the beginning of Iron Age IIB (Phase D2/7b). A fieldstone-built wall (W09D2-904), oriented east–west, was discovered beneath these surfaces. Based on its elevation and alignment, it seems that the wall is part of a building that was known in this region from the Stern excavations and ascribed to Phase D2/8 (Ir1/2–Ir2a horizon). This structure, known as ‘Benni’s House’, leans up against the western side of the Bastion wall and is cut by Wall 10606.
The kurkar surfaces are apparently the continuation of similar kurkar surfaces that were revealed beforehand in this area and they probably abutted the walls of ‘Benni’s House’ (Phase D2/8a). Nevertheless, this is probably an intermediate phase between Phases D2/7 and D2/8. The robbing of the Bastion wall should be ascribed to a similar phase, occurring between the end of ‘Benni’s House’ and the construction of Wall 10606. The pottery from the kurkar surfaces and the robber trench of the Bastion wall dates to Iron Age IIA and includes imports of the Cypro-Geometric III period, among them Black-on-Red vessels, and later manifestations of Phoenician Bichrome ware. These date the period when the Bastion and ‘Benni’s House’ were no longer in use.
Three walls, which are oriented east–west and divide the area into four rooms, were exposed this season inside and west of the Bastion wall. The excavation inside the rooms revealed at least two distinct phases of use in the Bastion building: a later phase of which a series of gray floors was exposed, and an earlier phase that has only been exposed in the southern rooms so far. The latter was destroyed in a fierce conflagration, represented by a thick burnt destruction layer (Fig. 3).
Several strata were discerned inside the destruction layer. The upper stratum included stone and mud-brick collapse; below it was another stratum with numerous shattered pottery vessels, which were not resting directly on the floor, but rather above a thick ash layer that covered the floor of the building, on top of which were also several shattered vessels. It therefore seems that this is evidence of a two-story building. Apart from the pottery vessels, the artifacts also included a large quantity of flint sickle blades. The vessels from this destruction layer date it to Iron Age IA (Ir1a horizon) – a period that is also characterized by other partly burnt and destroyed areas at the site.
The most interesting find from the post-destruction phase was found in the southernmost room. Mud-brick walls that divided it into small cubicles (c. 0.7 x 0.7 m; Fig. 4) were exposed. Two intact small vessels (a juglet and a bottle), a small stone bowl, a horn core, an incised bone, and round wadi pebbles were found on top of a mud-brick surface in one of the cubicles. Although the actual function of this installation is unclear, it seems to have been used in a ceremonial cultic activity.
The dating of the burnt layer to Iron Age I probably ascribes it to Phase D2/13, as defined in the Stern excavations in the area east of the Bastion. Since just a single series of floors is between the destruction layer and Wall 10606, which negated the Bastion building (Phase D2/7), it seems that building remains of other intermediate phases, exposed east of the wall (Phases D2/8–12, Ir1a/b, Ir1b, Ir1/2, Ir2a horizons), are missing from the area west of the wall. The changes inside the building were probably slow and few, compared to those occurring outside it; however, remains from these periods in this region were most likely also removed when the area was leveled for the construction of the large public building, connected to Wall 10606.
Area D5 (Iron Age 1–Hellenistic Period)
As in previous seasons, the excavation in Area D5 was divided into three separate regions (Area D5 Center, East and West), at different depths that relate to different periods.
Area D5 Center (Iron Age I, II). The excavation reached the bedrock and finally confirmed the assumption that Phase D5/12, which is dated to the beginning of Iron Age I (Ir1a early horizon), is the earliest construction phase in this region.
The walls of this phase were almost entirely robbed; however, the robber trenches and several remains of floors and installations indicate the plan of the building. In addition, a pair of concave basins, separated by a partition wall, was found (Fig. 5). The basins and the wall are built of mud bricks and lined with mud-plaster. A thin layer of phytoliths was on their floors. A microscopic examination revealed that these phytoliths are of a single species—wheat (analyzed by Dan Cabanes). The obvious assumption is to identify these installations as storage spaces for straw; however, the organic remains found in them included the entire spike, stalk and the inflorescence, and not just the seeds. It may be that the grain was stored un-winnowed, but this may also be an installation that had another function, possibly storing hay for animals.
The southern side of Wall 05D1-548, which is located at the southern end of the area and extends right along the edge of the southern slope of the tell, was also exposed. In previous seasons, it seemed that this ashlar wall, which is the southern wall of the building from Phase D5/9 (Iron Age II[A?], Ir2[a?] horizon), is actually an enormous fortification wall (width c. 2.5 m, max. height in excess of 1.7 m) that was probably built in an offset-inset fashion. While cleaning the slope south of the wall, its southern side was exposed, as well as another parallel wall (W09D5-811) adjacent to its south, which is built of fieldstones and rises to half the height of the ashlar wall (Fig. 6). The wall (length in excess of 20 m) extended further to the east and west, beyond the limits of the excavation. A probe excavated through Wall 09D5-811 showed that the ashlar wall descends almost all the way to the bedrock but is resting on top of a single course of large fieldstones. It may be that this is a fieldstone foundation course that was deliberately built with ashlar construction above it, but it seems more likely that the ashlar wall postdates the fieldstone wall and cuts into it. If this is the case, it is likely that W09D5-811 served as the southern wall of the building from Phase D5/12 and it probably remained in use in Phase D5/11 as well (HA-ESI 121).
Sections of an offset-inset wall, partly built of ashlars, were already exposed in the Stern excavations in Areas A–C, on the eastern side of the tell. At first, it was dated to Iron Age IIB (Ir2b horizon); however, in the wake of new research that was done prior to the publication of Area B, it now seems that the dating of the wall should be brought forward to the last part of Iron Age IIA. This wall and the wall discovered in Area D5 are probably part of the fortification line that encircled the entire city. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that no remains of a similar wall were discovered in Area D2, which is located in the southern part of the tell, between Area D5 and Areas A–C.
D5 West (End of the Iron Age). Two thick walls were exposed below the large complex of pits from the Persian and Hellenistic periods. The walls are built of very large fieldstones and appear to be the foundation of a large public building whose northeast corner (Fig. 7) was exposed this season. The walls are definitely later than the ‘CourtyardBuilding’ of Phase D5/9 in Area D5 Center (above). Other sections of the thick kurkar floors that had been excavated in the 1990s in Area D5-Center were exposed next to the walls; it was found that they cover the ‘CourtyardBuilding’. The relationship between these floors that are dated to Iron Age IIB or C (Ir2b/c) and the walls is still completely unclear, but they are all earlier than the kurkar and shell floors of Phase D5/7 (HA-ESI 121) and were therefore attributed to Phase D5/8. If the walls indeed represent a construction phase of Iron Age IIC (seventh century BCE), then this is the first building of this period in Dor.
During the twenty-seven seasons of excavation at Dor, numerous finds from the Assyrian period have been discovered, mostly a large amount of pottery vessels, as well as two Assyrian seals; however, apart from the two-chambered gate manifesting Assyrian architectural traditions, no other building remains that can be dated to this period were found. The results of the excavation in all the areas have so far shown that the densely populated residential regions of Iron Age IIB underwent a transformation and in this period and became open areas, dotted with pits and installations. Dor was an administrative center under Assyrian rule and public buildings were probably located on the tell itself, whereas the residential areas were situated outside the precincts of the tell. The discovered corner of the large building may be the first evidence of such public buildings; however, the structure is probably slightly earlier (eighth century BCE) and the matter requires further clarification.
D5 East (Persian and Hellenistic periods). Only a few remains of this period were excavated this season. Remains of the Hellenistic insula from Phase D5/5 were removed in the southern square (AT/9), which is also the highest one. The numerous pits from these periods (Phases D5/5–6) in the northern square (AT/10), which had been exposed in previous seasons, continued to be excavated and below them, the tops of two fieldstone-built walls and several phytolith surfaces were uncovered; these remains probably date to the end of the Iron Age (Phase D5/7) and this dating will be examined in the coming season.
Area D4 (Hellenistic Period)
When Area D4 was opened in the 2004 season, one of the excavation aims was to expose other parts of the large building that had been uncovered in the Stern excavations in Areas D1 and D2. The building in Area D1 included five large rooms and large ashlar walls that extended to the north and east, crossing all of Area D2. This building was initially dated to the Persian period and was even referred to as the ‘PersianPalace’; however, later excavations raised doubts about this dating (HA-ESI 111:32–33) and in the 2005 season, it was finally dated to the third century BCE or slightly later (HA-ESI 121).
It was assumed in the previous season that other parts of this building were exposed, following the discovery of the bottom course of W05D4-060 in the north of the area, which was built in a ‘compartment-like manner’, similar to the walls of the ‘palace’ edifice. Wall W04D1-050 adjoined this wall and extended to its south (Fig. 8).
The picture has become somewhat unclear this season, when two walls of another large building, which are built of ashlars arranged as headers, were discovered. Wall 09D4-533 is located directly south of W05D4-060 and passes beneath W04D1-050. The eastern end of this wall forms a corner with W09D4-554, which extends to the south (Fig. 9). The clear scenario here, whereby the ‘compartments’-built thick walls (Phase D5/3) are later than the header walls (Phase D5/4), contradicts the stratigraphic sequence from the adjacent Area D2, where it was clearly noted that the header wall (Phase D2/3) is built inside the robber trench of the ‘compartment’ wall of the Hellenistic palace and therefore postdates it (Fig. 10). At this point, it seems that our working hypothesis whereby all of the thick ‘compartment’ walls belong to the same structure (i.e., D2/4=D4/3) is still the most plausible and it seems that the header walls in this area predated the Hellenistic palace edifice, so that D4/4 corresponds to D2/5.
A cluster of fluted column drums (L09D4-584) was discovered below the floors of Phase D4/2 (the Roman period) in the center of the area; at this point, it is still unclear to which of the Hellenistic phases this group should be attributed.
Another important find that came from a Hellenistic context in Phase D4/3 or D4/4 is a tiny gemstone (width c. 1 cm) engraved with the image of Alexander the Great (identified by J. Nitschke and A. Stewart; Fig. 11).
Area D4 (The Roman Period)
The only remains from the Roman period (Phase D4/1) excavated this season are parts of a paved street, aligned east–west, which is the eastern continuation of the paved street that had been revealed in the northern part of Area D1 in the 2006 season (HA-ESI 121). This street is parallel to another paved street, parts of which were uncovered in Stern’s excavations in Areas D1 and D2; one can assume that like the latter, it too will continue eastward to an intersection with a north–south street (the cardo). To date, no other north–south aligned streets, which divide the area and connect two parallel streets and thereby make it possible to reconstruct a large insula between them (width 30 m, length greater than 70 m; Fig. 12), have been found. This insula is twice as wide as the insulae exposed in Stern’s excavations in Areas A and C on the eastern part of the tell.