During October 2018 and February 2019, the first two excavation seasons were conducted at the site of Dor South (License Nos. G-74/2018, G-12/2019; map ref. 192397–657/721977–3061). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Recanati Institute of Maritime Studies and the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, was directed by R. Shahack-Gross (micromorphology, field photography) and R. Nickelsberg (ceramic petrography), with the assistance of B. Clark (area supervisor), S. Macke (registrar), N. Marom (faunal remains), A. Yasur-Landau and Y. Paz (pottery reading), D. Rosenberg (flint), A. Pietraszek (mineralogy, phytolith analysis) and A. Tamberino (aerial photography). Participants in the excavation included students from the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.
Dor South is an EB I site located on the coastline south of Tel Dor, along a 1 km stretch between a low kurkar outcrop known locally as Napoleon Hill in the north and the mouth of Nahal Daliyya in the south. The site was identified during the Survey of the Map of Dor (Olami, Sender and Oren 2005: Sites 132 and 145). A survey conducted prior to the excavation (License No. S-852/2018) retrieved EB I material similar to what has been reported from other sites of this period in the southern coast of Israel, such as Ashqelon (Golani 2013).
Two excavation areas were opened (A, B; Fig. 1), respectively corresponding to Sites 132 and 145 in the Survey of the Map of Dor. The excavation in Area A (four 4 × 4 m squares; Fig. 2), at the northern edge of the site, revealed stratified deposits rich in finds, but only meager architectural remains. Also found in this area were some Late Neolithic/Chalcolithic potsherds within the lowermost deposits and some Byzantine-period sherds in the topsoil. The excavation in Area B (three 4 × 4 m squares), at the southern edge of the site, uncovered a relatively shallow deposit (thickness 0.3 m) with EB I material, but no architectural remains, overlying sterile sand. The material appeared to be ex situ, possibly originating in an area east of the excavation, where fishponds were constructed in the 1970s.
The four squares excavated in Area A (B2–3 and C2–3), on the eastern slope of Napoleon Hill, were dug to varying depths, reaching sterile sand only in the western half of Sq B3 (1.73 m below surface; Fig. 3). The archaeological deposits in the adjacent squares extended to a greater depth (excavation depth: Sq B2—1.92 m; Sq C2—2.8 m; Sq C3—2.74 m below surface). A stone arrangement and an accumulation of collapsed stones were identified in Sqs B2–3. The remains of what may have been a wall were uncovered in the northeastern corner of Sq B2, comprising two rows of medium-sized fieldstones (0.10 × 0.25 m) in a southeast–northwest orientation (W19A-001, W19A-002; exposed length 3 m, depth 0.4 m below the ground surface; Fig. 4). The precise date of this wall cannot be determined at this time. An accumulation of collapsed stones and mudbrick fragments (L19A-18; 2.3 m below the ground surface; Fig. 5), possibly remains of a wall, were found in the southeastern part of Sq B2. Below this accumulation were flat-lying EB I pottery sherds, flint items and animal bones, possibly indicating the existence of a living surface (L19A-22). Deeper deposits below this surface yielded pottery of the Neolithic/Chalcolithic period. An in situ stone installation was discovered in Sq B3 (L19A-23; Fig. 6), at nearly the same elevation as that of the living surface described above. It may be suggested that this part of the site was used as a courtyard, a common feature of EB I village layouts (Greenberg 2019:29–32).
The possibility that the site contains two distinct occupation layers, an EB I layer and a Neolithic/Chalcolithic one, is reinforced by the measurement of phytolith concentrations in sediment samples taken from the sections of Sqs B2–3. The concentrations were high in samples from the upper, EB I, deposits, appreciably decreased in a lower part of the section and then increased again in its lowermost part, where a layer of the Neolithic/Chalcolithic period may be identified. The part of the section with a low phytolith concentration may indicate that the area in question had a different function than in the preceding and succeeding occupation phases; the precise date of this intermediate occupation phase cannot be ascertained at the moment.
Finds. The EB I pottery comprises gray burnished ware, including a bowl with a knob (Fig. 7:1), holemouth jars (Fig. 7:2), red burnished ware, including a jar rim (Fig. 7:3) and ledge handles of storage jars (Fig. 7:4)—a composition resembling that of the nearby site of ‘En Esur, as well as EB I sites in the southern coastal plain (Yannai 2006:79–93). Earlier pottery could only be generally attributed to the Late Neolithic or Chalcolithic periods, comprising a few diagnostic sherds of holemouth jars bearing white slip and red painted decorations.
The flint items represent all stages of the knapping process: raw material cores, knapping debitage and the finished tools. The tools include diagnostic EB I Canaanean blades (Fig. 8:1; L19A-10) and items possibly belonging to earlier periods, Neolithic or Chalcolithic, lithic traditions, such as a flint adze (Fig. 8:2;
The scant faunal remains belong to pig, cattle and caprines, species that commonly occur in many Bronze Age sites.
Although the 2018–2019 excavation seasons at Dor South uncovered in situ remains only in Area A, they nevertheless reinforce the estimation presented in the Survey of Dor (Olami, Sender and Oren 2005) regarding the extensive size of the original site. It seems, however, that much of the site was not preserved due to the modern construction of fishponds south of Area A. Future excavations will attempt to examine whether this coastal site was a seasonal or a sedentary settlement.
Golani A. 2013. The Transition from the Late Chalcolithic to the Early Bronze I in Southwestern Canaan—Ashqelon as a Case for Continuity. Paléorient 39/1:95–110.
Greenberg R. 2019. The Archaeology of the Bronze Age Levant. Cambridge.
Olami Y., Sender S. and Oren E. 2005. Map of Dor (30) (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.
Yannai E. 2006. ‘En Esur (ʻEin Asawir) I: Excavations at a Protohistoric Site in the Coastal Plain of Israel (IAA Reports 31). Jerusalem.