The excavation continued the work of previous seasons in the southwestern part of the tell (Fig. 1). Hellenistic- and Roman-period structures were further exposed in the L-shaped balk separating Areas D1 and D2 from Area D4, as well as in the easternmost squares of Area D1, which had not been excavated since the 2006 season. Earlier deposits dating from the Late Iron Age and the Persian periods were excavated in the southwestern corner of Area D2. In Area D5 West, which includes the lowermost reaches of the southern slope of the tell, a massive boulder structure of the late Iron Age period (the ‘Tower’) was removed to allow for the excavation of the ‘Courtyard Building’ and earlier Iron Age structures.
Area D2
Iron Age. The work related to this period in Area D2 was confined to a single unit in the southernmost edge of the area, with the objective of bringing it to level with the rest of the squares of ‘Upper D2’. The edges of two large complexes were exposed in ‘Upper D2’ in previous seasons, both extending westward under Area D1 and northward under Area D4. The lower of these complexes (‘the Bastion’), encircles the kurkar ridge at the southwestern extremity of the tell. It was built in the early Iron Age I (Phase D2/13 of the Ir1a horizon, if not earlier; Table 1). Above the Bastion, the second large complex was built in Phase D2/7 (Ir2a|b). This complex comprises a massive ashlar header wall, which is the eastern edge of a podium structure (‘Taphat’s Palace’; Fig. 2).
Table 1. Chronological Phases in Area D2
Main Features

Industrial building with massive concrete foundations


Rubble construction with cement


‘Thin-Headers Building’


Thick compartment wall of the ‘Hellenistic Building Complex’ with residential insulae south of it


Residential buildings with ashlar walls


Open industrial space with pits


Massive ashlar podium of ‘Taphat’s Palace’ with open space to the east


‘Benny’s House’

‘Monumental Stone Building’ and ‘Sea Wall’

‘Bastion Wall’ along west part of area


‘Mud-brick Building’


‘Nati’s Building’


Destruction by fire

*For definitions and terminology, see Nitschke, Martin and Shalev 2011 for the Persian–Roman phases, and Gilboa and Sharon 2008 for the Iron Age.


The earliest remains exposed in the lower part of the area are the robber trench of the eastern façade wall of Taphat’s Palace (W10606) and the continuation of a kurkar surface to its west (Fig. 2; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014). The kurkar surface and W10606 are probably contemporary. The robber trench crosses over the Bastion wall. It has long been our contention that the construction of Taphat’s Palace cancelled the use of the Bastion (Gilboa and Sharon 2008), but this is the first time that we have been able to verify this. One of the implications of this scenario is that this building activity of Phase D2/7 transformed the topography of this area. Instead of a citadel-type structure confined to the area of the Bastion, commanding the area to its east, the entire area has now been brought to the same level.

Preliminary analysis of the pottery assemblage from the robber trench shows the following sequence of events: the Bastion wall was standing and in use until the Iron 2a (Phase D2/8, Ir2a); in Phase D2/7 (Ir2a|b), the area underwent radical changes, when a podium—with W10606 delimiting it on the east—was erected above the area surrounded by the Bastion; this structure went out of use by Phase D2/6 (Ir2b) as it is cut by pits of this later period. However, at least some of the ashlar stones of W10606 were only robbed later on, during the Persian period (Phase D2/5b, the fifth century BCE), when new construction activities began in the area.

Persian Period. The last standing fragment of the south façade wall of the northern insula of the Persian period in Area D2 was completely exposed and removed during this season. One of the stones used as a pier in this wall appeared to be a huge kurkar slab (Fig. 3), carved on both sides, that went through two life-cycles before ending up as a pier in this wall. The initial or intended use of this slab remains unknown, and its carving was never finished. It was secondarily used as an olive press-bed of the lever-and-weight type. While such lever-and-weight presses are found all over the Iron Age Levant, this particular type with a lateral collection (i.e., a sideways-pointing spout) is specific to northern Israel (Frankel et al. 1994).
Hellenistic and Roman periods. In the western squares of Area D2, the excavators continued to expose Hellenistic- and Roman-period remains, which were found in previous seasons. They also extended the area westward, to include the eastern squares of Area D1. The aim of this project was to further clarify the sequence of public buildings occupying most of Areas D1, D2 and D4.

The earliest of these large structures (the ‘Hellenistic Building Complex’, referred to in previous reports as the ‘Monumental Hellenistic Structure’) is a complex with two wings, characterized by wide walls built using the techniques of pseudo-telaio in its Southwestern Wing (Area D1) and compartment building in the ‘Main Building’ (largely in Area D4, on which see below, but also in Areas D1 and D2; for ashlar-construction terminology, see Sharon 2009). Although the northern limits of the Main Building remain uncertain, the minimum size of the Hellenistic Building Complex can be estimated. We know that the Main Building in Area D4 was at least 22.5 × 26.0 m (along the east–west and north–south axes, respectively), and that the Southwestern Wing in Area D1 measured approximately 13 × 24 m. Accordingly, we estimate the total area of the complex as at least 900 sq m. Later Hellenistic structures with much thinner ashlar walls of the header-stretcher and ashlar-pier techniques were built around and on top of the Hellenistic Building Complex (the ‘Thin-Headers Building’). In the Roman period, the area became industrial (Fig. 4; for further discussion, see Nitschke, Martin and Shalev 2011).

The features excavated in the southern part of Area D2 (W26246, W26087 and Stage b of W26119; Fig. 4), together with the walls found earlier in Area D1 (W16550 and W16325), belong to a building constructed on top of the Southwestern Wing of the Hellenistic Building Complex. Surfaces and domestic installations found in the northern room of this later building suggest that this was a residential house of the late Hellenistic period (Fig. 5). East of W26246 and in a slightly different orientation were two north–south walls (W11D2-661 and W17534). We suggest the latter belong to a different building, which extended eastward into Area D2. The irregular shape of the rooms within this building is interesting, but a shift in the orientation of neighboring houses was not unusual in the Hellenistic period at Tel Dor. The builders of this period made an occasional trapezoidal room and jogs in façade walls (as seen at the bottom of Fig. 5) to maintain a somewhat regular plan for the insulae. In addition, it is evident that the underlying urban plan took into consideration the topography of the site (Shalev and Martin 2012).

Area D4

The eastern part of the balk between Areas D2 and D4 revealed a late Hellenistic–Roman architectural sequence (Table 2). The earliest feature here is the southern continuation of the compartment-built eastern wall of the Main Building of the Hellenistic Building Complex (Phase D4/4; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014).

Table 2. Chronological Phases in Area D4, late periods
Main Features

Industrial complex with three sub-phases

Rubble walls

‘Thin-Headers Building’


‘Hellenistic Building Complex’


A wall (W13D4-950; Fig. 6), found west of the compartment wall, and therefore inside the earlier Main Building, was interpreted as the fourth of the presumed six piers of a large Hellenistic building of a later phase in the same area (Phase D4/3; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014). The easternmost stone of this pier is engraved with two mason marks: the Greek letter alpha, and a second mark, which may be a trident (קלשון) or the Greek letter psi (Fig. 7). A sigma was found previously on a stone of the southwestern pier (Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014).

Directly on top of Pier W13D4-950 was an ovoid installation (L13D4-915; Fig. 8), which abuts an Early Roman (Phase D4/2) north–south wall (W11D4-733; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014), and therefore likewise belongs to Phase D4/2. As the piers must be earlier than these Early Roman features, we assign them to Phase D4/3, contemporary with the walls of the Thin-Headers Building.

Additional fragments of the inner walls of the Hellenistic Building Complex (Phase D4/4) were found in the southern part of Area D4. Here, one wall of two dovetailing walls (W13D4-988, W13D4-989; Fig. 9) is cut by a thin ashlar wall of Phase D4/3 (W17605; Fig. 4), comprising two courses constructed in the header-stretcher technique, laid above a lower course that is header-only.

In the western part of Area D4, the excavation exposed a sequence of installations (Fig. 10) that belongs to the latest phase of the occupation in this area (Phase D4/1). The rectangular installation was rebuilt three times (D4/1c–a), changing the direction of the opening and the working surface in front of it. The clay surfaces inside the installation were very burnt, indicating that they were used for some technology employing a high temperature. These installations were constructed in a similar method as the kilns/foundries of the Roman period (05D1-117, 05D1-321; Phase D1/1; Fig. 11), previously found c. 10 m further to the west, in Area D1. One of these Roman-period installations was identified by sediment analysis as a casting-pit for the manufacture of leaded-bronze objects (Eliyahu-Behar et al. 2009).

Area D5

Only the western part of this area was excavated this year, exposing the Iron Age remains (Table 3). The foundations of the square tower of Phase D5/8 (Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014) were removed in order to further expose the western wing of the Courtyard Building below it (Phase D5/9). The continuations of several surfaces, contemporary with the tower, and later pits (Phase D5/7) were exposed and completely excavated so that today the visible remains in this part of the area all belong to Phase D5/9 and earlier phases.

Table 3. Chronological Phases in Area D5, early periods
Main Features
Insula walls

Square tower foundations


‘Courtyard House’


Phytolith surfaces


Domestic structure destroyed by fire


Domestic structures


Phase D5/9. The excavation proceeded in three elongated spaces (Rooms 1–3; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014; Fig. 12) located west of the central courtyard of the Courtyard Building. All three rooms have at least two stages of occupation that can be correlated with the two earliest stages of occupation within the building’s courtyard. The latest stage in the three rooms (Phase D5/9b) comprises a kurkar floor, a rubble-made pavement and a tabun in Room 1; plaster floors and a basin installation made of mud-brick in Room 2 (Fig. 13); and a kurkar floor in Room 3. These features sealed another series of floors and mud-brick platforms or pavements (Phase D5/9c) in Rooms 1 and 2. Although the pottery collected from the floors of these rooms is scant, the Phase D5/9c assemblages can be provisionally dated to either Ir1|2 or Ir2a. This date is only slightly earlier than the dates of the following sub-phase of the rooms.

It is possible that the mud-brick concentrations associated with Rooms 1–3 predated the Courtyard Building of Phase D5/9, and were incorporated in its floors after going out of use as walls. However, an installation (L13D5-155; Phase D5/9b) is shown to have been constructed along the western face of a wall (W10D5-918) of Room 2, indicating that this room was indeed an integral part of the Courtyard Building, rather than belonging to a passage between the Courtyard Building and another building to its west.


Phases D5/10–D5/12Several fragments of mud-brick walls in the southern part of Area D5 West represent either an earlier phase of the Courtyard Building or a different structure that predates Phase D5/9 but nevertheless has a similar layout. These walls were provisionally assigned to Phase D5/10 (Ir1|2). The exposed remains comprise four walls: three north–south walls having the same orientation and layout as those of the long walls of the Courtyard Building above them, and a short east–west wall segment (W13D5-165, W13D5-166, W13D5-190, W13D5-212; Figs. 12, 14).

Unlike the courtyard walls in the southern part of Area D5 West, the courtyard walls in the central part of Area D5 (Gilboa, Sharon and Shalev 2010) were built of stone and had much deeper foundations. Furthermore, this area showed no evidence of an earlier architectural phase other than the raising of the courtyard floor. A set of robber trenches and installations that was found under the courtyard and assigned to Phase D5/11, and mud-brick walls of Phase D5/12 (Gilboa, Sharon and Shalev 2010: Fig. 12), belonged to a building with a completely different plans and orientations than those of the Courtyard Building. Phase D5/10—at least in the courtyard area—is a thick, surface-like deposit of phytolith laminations with no associated architecture.

Conclusions. The correlation of stratigraphy between the central courtyard and the west wing of the Courtyard Building is uncertain. At least three scenarios are possible:
(1) The original mud-brick building was built in Phase D5/10 and was limited to the west wing of the later Courtyard Building, adjoining an open space used for the penning of livestock, and hence the thick phytolith laminations. In this scenario, the courtyard and the eastern wing were added later, in Phase D5/9. At the same time, the brick walls of the western wing were replaced by walls with deep stone foundations.
(2) Alternatively, it is possible that the entire structure—both its wings and the courtyard—was originally built of mud-brick in Phase D5/10. When it was renovated in Phase D5/9, the stone walls of the west wing were built on top of the previous mud-brick walls, while the foundations for the walls were dug much deeper around the courtyard, completely obliterating the earlier mud-brick walls.
(3) Still another option is that the apparent juxtaposition of the brick and stone walls in the southwestern part of Area D5 is merely coincidental, and the brick walls exposed in the lower part of the slope belong in fact to Phase D5/11, or to an even earlier phase.

It is also important to note that all the mud-brick walls extend south of the reconstructed line of the city wall of Phase D5/9 (not preserved in this part of the area), but are within the area surrounded by the city wall that was provisionally assigned to Phase D5/12 (Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014).