Area D2 (Iron Age I, II). Another part of the large public building, to which Wall 10606 (Phase D2/7b) that was first exposed in 1989 belongs, was uncovered. During the excavations in the 1990s, no building remains that connected to the wall were discovered to its east and it was assumed that the area between this building and the ‘Monumental Building’ east of it was an open space (Fig. 2). One of the goals of the renewed excavation in the area was to investigate other sections of this structure. The continuation of W10606 was indeed uncovered north of the exposed section of the wall and today it is clear that this is a massive wall (length in excess of 10 m, width c. 1.7 m) extending further north. The preserved courses are the base of the wall, which was the eastern wall of a large building whose continuation is concealed beneath Areas D4 and D1, to its north and west. Wall 10606 was built of two rows of large ashlars, arranged as headers. This large structure, whose public nature is alluded to by the dimensions of the wall, is dated to Iron Age II (Ir2 in Dor terminology). It seals Ir2a buildings (Phase D2/8) and it was cut by several pits that are dated to Ir2b (Phase D2/6).
The precise dating of the building—the end of Ir2a or beginning of Ir2b—depends on the interpretation of the kurkar levels alongside it. The exposure of these levels began in the 2006 season and continued in the following year. As many as eight superimposed kurkar levels were revealed. The finds between and on top of these levels were extremely meager, including potsherds that dated to the Ir1/2 and Ir2a horizons (transition from Iron Age I to Iron Age II and Iron Age IIA). ‘Lenses’ of mud-brick material and small stone surfaces were discovered in-between these levels. One of the bottom pebble surfaces also covered the eastern part of W10606 (Fig. 3). It is possible that the kurkar levels are floors that postdated the building, in which case the finds between the levels constitute a terminus ante quem for the period when the building was used. Another possibility, which the excavators currently prefer, is that the kurkar levels are a constructional fill that was deposited at the same time that the wall was built, to create a raised podium of sorts to its west, in which case the finds inside the fill constitute a terminus post quem for the construction of the building. This question will remain open until other parts of this building are exposed in Area D4. If the latter possibility is correct, then these kurkar levels are a testament to the great effort invested in the construction of the building.
After removing the kurkar surfaces, a robber trench oriented southwest-northeast was exposed. At the bottom of the trench, the continuation of the large stone wall, nicknamed the ‘Bastion Wall’ (Fig 2) was discovered. It was built in Phase D2/13 (=Ir1a horizon) and was used until Phase D8a (Ir2a horizon). The southern part of this wall was first excavated by A. Raban in the 1970s and its continuation to the north was exposed during the excavations directed by E. Stern. The wall was built of large boulders and it encircled the kurkar ridge on the western side of the tell. This appears to be a massive retaining wall that created a raised area to its west, separating it from the lower city that was built on the sandy beach east of the kurkar ridge. The extensive collapse of the Bastion Wall is covered with the kurkar surfaces (Phase D2/7). It therefore seems that the remains from phases exposed in the area east of the bastion (Phases D2/12–9) are missing from the area located to its west. While it may be that the western area was not settled for most of the second part of Iron Age I, it is more likely that the remains from these periods in this specific area were removed when the area was leveled for the construction of the large public building that is connected to W10606.
Area D4 (The Hellenistic and Roman Periods). During the 2007 season, the excavation of the industrial building dating to the Roman period, which was first exposed in the 2004 season (HA-ESI 118), continued. Like most of the Roman-period remains on the tell, two phases were discerned in this building. Unlike other buildings at the site, considerable continuity from one phase to the next is evident in this structure. The use of the building is unclear. Column drums in secondary use were utilized in the construction of several of the building’s walls. White mosaic floors, various water installations and even several hypocaust tiles were discovered in the building in former excavation seasons; hence, it was initially suggested that the building was a bathhouse. However, it became clear in the 2005 season that the building had an industrial function or was converted at some point for industrial use because of the ovens or furnaces and other installations discovered in it (Fig. 4). Most of the installations were uncovered in the 2007 season, but their function still remains unclear. The large variety of installations includes some built of stone and some of ceramic tiles, some lined with stone and others with clay, some have a double firing chamber and others a single chamber; a work pit was discovered in front of some and others have no front pit, some have remains indicative of high temperature firing and others had no signs of firing at all (Fig. 5). The diversity of the installations hampers our understanding of the complex. The installations are too small to have been used as potter’s kilns and no wasters were discovered in them and they are too large to have been household ovens for baking. It has been suggested that at least some of the installations were used in the industrial manufacture of some baked goods, perhaps in the service of the temples located west of here, in Areas F and H. Sediment analysis of one of the stone installations revealed that it may have been utilized, possibly secondarily, for smelting copper. At this point, it is still unclear if the building was intended for use as an industrial structure (Phase D4/2) or if it was just converted for such use in a later phase (Phase D4/1); at any rate, after the recent excavations, it is no longer upheld that the building was used as a bathhouse in any of its phases.
The exposure of the large building from the Hellenistic period, parts of which were uncovered in Areas D1 and D2, continued this season. This structure, first discovered in 1984, was dated then to the Persian period and nicknamed the ‘Persian Palace’. Later excavations have raised doubts regarding this dating (HA-ESI 111) and in the 2005 season it was proved once and for all that it dated to the third century BCE or slightly later (HA-ESI 121). Most of the floors and industrial installations from the Roman period (described above) were removed in the 2008 season and other parts of this large structure (in excess of 25 × 50 m; Fig. 6) were exposed. A wide wall (W05D4-050), whose northern end abutted another broad wall (W05D4-060b; Phase D4/3) that was aligned northeast-southwest, was exposed. Like other walls of the building, this wall was also built in the “compartment” manner (with ashlar compatments; Fig. 7). A square pillar (Wall 08D4-363) was also exposed here this season. It consisted of large ashlars and seems to be part of the building. The shape of this pillar is reminiscent of the main pillar in the westernmost room of the building in Area D1. It is unclear at this stage whether W05D4-060 delimited the building from the north or if the building continued northward. A possible clue was provided by exposing the Roman-period street in the northern part of “upper” Area D1 (Squares AU-AS17), which was first uncovered in 2006 (HA-ESI 121). The eastern extent of this street is likely to pass just north of W05D4-060 (Squares AR-AN17-18). Thus far, in most instances known at Dor, the streets from the Roman period were built along the same line as the streets dating to the Hellenistic period. If this is also the case here, then it seems that W05D4-060 is the northern facade of the ‘Hellenistic Monumental Structure’.
Area D5 (Iron Age I, II and the Persian and Hellenistic Periods). Remains that dated to the Persian and Hellenistic periods (Phases D5/6–3; Fig. 8) were exposed in the eastern and western parts of the area. These included mostly pits, as well as several sections of floors and walls that were part of insulae from these periods. The excavation in the ‘bone installation’ from the Persian period (L07D5-114), which was exposed in the eastern part of the area at the end of the 2006 season, was concluded in the 2007 season. Excavation demonsrated that this installation comprised five layers; the upper two contained only bones, the two below them included bones and fragments of pottery vessels, mainly handles of amphorae and jars, and the bottom layer was just potsherds (Fig. 9). The bones are those of four animal species: horse, pig, cattle and sheep/goat. Next to the installation were three dog burials.
A large ceramic eye, which is probably a fragment of a mask or a tile in the image of a Gorgon, dating to the Persian period, was also discovered in this area. Two similar ceramic eyes were formerly discovered in Area D2. Each of the three eyes is slightly different in size and therefore, it seems that each belonged to a different mask or tile.
The excavation in the center of the area reached the Iron Age strata. In the 1990s excvations started to uncover here a courtyard house dating to Ir2 (Phase D5/9). During these seasons, the two upper courses of the courtyard house’s southern wall (W05D1-548) were removed and additional parts of the wall were revealed. It became clear that this massive wall (width c. 2.5 m), running near the base of the southernslope of the tell, was built of large, coarsely dressed ashlars and apparently served as a fortification. Its base is lower than the base of the rest of the building’s walls and its wide foundation trench cuts through earlier Ir1 remains (Phases D5/12–11; below). It was also determined that the ‘missing part’ in the eastern stretch of the wall is actually an integral part of it, which was probably built as an offset-inset wall. On the eastern side of the tell, in Areas A and C, an offset-inset wall, dated to Ir2b or late Ir2a was exposed in the past, possibly belonging to the same fortification, to which may also belong another stretch of a city wall and a four-chambered gate in Area B1 on the southeast.
Excavation in this area during these seasons focused on exposing the destruction level dating to Ir1a (Phase D5/11) beneath the courtyard house, which was uncovered in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. The walls of the building from this level were almost completely robbed, but most of them could be reconstructed based on the robber trenches and the sections (Fig. 10). These walls were constyructed from mud bricks that were laid on stone foundations. The building included several rooms and was destroyed in a fierce conflagration; numerous pottery vessels were discovered in situ. A small room was exposed in the southwestern corner of the building. It contained two pithoi in situ, decorated with a wavy design in Cypriot style. Underneath one of the pithoi was a large concentration of charred lentils that probably represent the remains of its contents (Fig. 11). A small mud-brick installation in the shape of a quarter-circle was discovered in the northeastern corner of the room. Two large collar-rim jars were exposed in the middle room of the building and one of the jars contained lentils and probably other legumes. Mostly fragments of small jars with straight shoulders (‘Canaanite’ jars), two chalices and several small stones, possibly weights, were discovered in the northern room of the building. Most of the ceramics found in the building are storage vessels. The plan of the building and the distribution of the vessels inside it are reminiscent of the courtyard building in Area G (Phase G9), which is dated similarly and was also destroyed by fire. It seems that the destruction of these two buildings is associated with the same event. The remains of several mud-brick walls (Phase D5/12) that were cut by robber trenches were exposed below this building (Fig. 12). Most of the walls were found directly below the walls of the Phase D5/11 building. The pottery from this phase also dates to Ir1a, but it is slightly earlier than that of Phase D5/11.