Many excavations have been conducted at and around Tel Dor from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present (Garstang 1924:35–45; Stern 1993; 1994; Matskevich, Gilboa and Sharon 2014; Gilboa et al. 2018a; 2018b; 2018c; Matskevich, Gilboa, Martin and Sharon 2021), revealing remains from the Middle Bronze Age to the Ottoman period, including settlement remains from the Iron Age I and II and the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Crusader and Ottoman periods. Temples from the Hellenistic and Roman periods were also uncovered, as well as rock-cut tombs from various periods, wells, a church and a road constructed in the Byzantine period. During the Ottoman period, the village of Tantura was located near the tell. In the current excavation 10 squares (11, 29, 32, 38, 39, 41, 60, 61, 96, 97; Fig. 2) were opened in a large area on the southern slope of the kurkar spur northeast of the tell, to reveal the remains of a probable mausoleum, rock-cut tombs, walls and layers of sherds, all of which date mostly to the Roman period, as well as a stone bearing a Greek inscription.
Square 11. In the southwestern corner of the square was the remaining course of a northeast–southwest wall set on bedrock and consisting of dressed stones and fieldstones. Many fallen stones were found around this wall, and remains of a plaster floor (thickness 1 cm) were found on the bedrock northeast of it.
Squares 29 and 32 revealed a layer of colluvial soil covering the bedrock and containing small fallen fieldstones and numerous pottery sherds. The majority of sherds in this layer (thickness c. 0.15 m) in Sq 32 are body fragments of jars dated to the Roman period (first–second centuries CE). This layer may have originated in colluvium from the top of the kurkar spur; however, the nature of the activity on top of the spur was not examined. A late Ottoman coin was found in this layer in Sq 29 (Sfez, below).
Square 38 (Fig. 3) was entirely covered by heaps of fallen fieldstones. Below these were remains of a rectangular building on a northeast–southwest axis. Three walls built of dressed stones were preserved in the northeastern corner of the building, as well as remains of flooring consisting of small stone slabs. A rock-cut square shaft (L134; depth 3.85 m) covered with dressed stones was unearthed west of the building, and the fill of soil and sand inside it contained numerous sherds. Several niches were carved into its northern wall to enable climbing in and out of it. The narrow side of a dressed stone found 0.8 m above the shaft’s floor bears an inscription in Greek, which has not yet been deciphered. The shaft’s floor is not level, suggesting that the shaft was never fully cut out, and that it had been intentionally filled with sand and sherds collected from its surroundings in the second–third centuries CE. The intended use of the shaft is not clear.
Square 39 (Fig. 3). Two northeast–southwest tombs (L124, L131) cut parallel to each other were found robbed and devoid of skeletal remains. The fill in Tomb 124, the northern of the two, contained soil that contained sherds and fragments of three glass vessels (Katsnelson, below). In Tomb 131, the southern tomb, there were fragments of a limestone sarcophagus (length 2.02 m, internal width 0.42 m, height 0.5 m), consisting mainly of the bottom part, which featured a carved headrest on the northeastern side. North of the tombs was a wall (W119) set on bedrock, consisting of one course of two rows of fieldstones, between which was a fill of soil and small stones.
Square 41 was opened on a moderate slope descending from north to south. It revealed remains of a rectangular structure (4.7 × 7.2 m, height c. 0.6 m), built on a northeast–southwest axis. Its remains extended north and east of the square (see Fig. 2, marked in red). The structure was set on bedrock that had been leveled prior to construction. Only its foundations survived, to a height of two to three courses; they were laid as a frame of dressed stones (average size 24 × 40 × 85 cm) set as headers, with a core of fieldstones bonded with brown mortar. The meager finds preclude dating the building. Near the building, southwest of it, were two fragments of a limestone sarcophagus bearing remnants of vegetal reliefs. The nature of the construction, the use of dressed stones and the sarcophagus fragments suggest that this was a mausoleum.
Squares 60, 61. Three rectangular rock-cut tombs (L203, L209, L210; Fig. 4) were hewn in a row, along a northeast–southwest axis (hereafter referred to as a general east–west axis); they are dated to the Roman period. Tomb 203 (depth 1.3 m), the eastern of the three, was covered with slabs set on a recess surrounding the tomb shaft (depth 0.36 m). A shallow groove was hewn in the eastern end of the tomb. A cluster of finds on the tomb’s floor at its western end included a bottle, cup and chalice, all made of glass, a bronze jar and an iron implement with a curved blade (strigil). Four bronze disc-shaped handles decorated with a lion in relief and with an attached ring—two found in the tomb’s western part and two in its eastern part—likely came from a coffin that did not survive. Skeletal remains in this tomb belonged to an individual aged 15 years or older (Eshed, below).
Tomb 209 (depth 1.3 m) was hewn west of Tomb 203. On its southeastern side were three glass bottles and a glass bowl, as well as a group of bronze artifacts. Of these, one found inside a cylindrical case was apparently used as an applicator; another was perhaps a cosmetic box. The bones of a single individual interred in this tomb apparently belonged to a male aged 19 years or older (see Eshed, below).
Tomb 210 was hewn west of Tomb 209, and a shallow groove was cut between them. The tomb was devoid of finds apart from skeletal remains of an individual of unknown sex aged 14 years or older (see Eshed, below).
West of Tomb 210 meager remains were found of two walls creating a corner of a structure. The fill between the walls contained sherds dated mainly to the Roman period. The corner of a rock-cutting (L211) that began to emerge in a shallow excavation under the corner of the structure may be another tomb.
Two more east–west oriented tombs (L206, L208; Fig. 5) were hewn south of the row of tombs. They had been damaged by mechanical equipment, and only their northern part survived. A hewn groove in the eastern end of Tomb 206 is similar to those documented in Tombs 203 and 209. The purpose of these grooves is unclear; they may have served as a place to set a jar to mark the grave or to set a lighting implement as part of a funerary practice. The tomb yielded no finds.
Tomb 208 featured remains of a shallow recess for cover slabs, similar to that in Tomb 203. No finds were discovered in this tomb either.
Square 96 (Fig. 6) revealed two southeast–northwest walls (W129, W141) built of large and medium-sized dressed stones and set on bedrock. There may have been an opening in W129 with steps ascending from the southwest (L147). Remains of a plaster floor (L142) were unearthed in the northern edge of the square. Finds from this square include mainly body fragments of jars.
Square 97. A rock terrace oriented on an east–west axis was uncovered at the foot of the southern slope of the spur. South of and below the terrace was a cluster of jar fragments dating to the Hellenistic period. As there were no architectural remains here, this area may have been an industrial zone on the edge of the tell.
The Glass Vessels from Square 39
Three glass vessels were found in Square 39: two rim and wall fragments belonging to blown vessels—a bowl and a beaker found in Tomb 124 (B1080; Fig. 7)—and a greenish trail-handle with a rounded cross section, possibly belonging to a jug (L100, B1011; not drawn).
The bowl and the beaker display a similar, faintly colored greenish-blue fabric; their walls are thin and covered with a crust of black and silver weathering and a lime deposit. Both fragments represent well-known Early Roman types.
The bowl (Fig. 7:1) has a wide, flaring, outward-folded rim, carrying an applied uneven trail that is tooled with short vertical ribs. This vessel belongs to a type called Crimped Trail Bowls, which was widely distributed throughout the Roman Empire. In Israel it is particularly characteristic of domestic contexts dated between the late first and the early second centuries CE. Among the regional parallels are two small fragments from Stratum 2 at the courthouse excavation at ‘Akko (Katsnelson 2016: Fig. 3.6:1, 2, and see further references therein, including from Dor and Caesarea, and complete examples from Capernaum). Other comparable fragments are well known from Jewish settlements and hiding complexes that were inhabited between 70 CE and 132–135 CE (Winter 2012: Fig. 2:5).
The beaker (Fig. 7:2) is small and cylindrical with a cut-off rim and indented walls. Beakers with indented walls belong to a large class of Roman-period beakers or cups that was distributed widely between the late first and the early third centuries CE. These vessels display a variety of bodies—cylindrical, rectangular or rounded—of various heights, and simple bases which are mostly flattened or concave. Beakers of this shape are less common in local contexts of the Early Roman period, in comparison with other forms, such as the Crimped Trail Bowls discussed above. Northern parallels are known, among other sites, from ‘Akko, Geva/Mishmar Ha-‘Emeq and Caesarea; others were found in Judea, in contexts of the late first – early second centuries CE, including military camps at Masada and the Jewish settlement at Shuʻfat in modern-day Jerusalem (Jackson-Tal 2016:11, Fig. 8:10, 11, and see discussion and further references therein).
Both fragments provide a minor but important additional data concerning typological and geographical distribution of Early Roman glass vessels in our region.
The excavation yielded three coins: a late Ottoman coin was found in Sq 29 (L107), and two Roman Provincial coins were retrieved on the surface (L108), one dating from 251–253 CE and minted in Tiberias (IAA 164843) and the other from the second–third centuries CE (IAA 164846).
Human skeletal remains were found in the three rock-cut tombs in Sqs 61 and 62 (L203, L209, L210). The bones were poorly preserved, which impeded reconstruction of full anthropological data on the deceased.
Tomb 203. A few fragments of postcranial bones were found on the floor of the tomb, apparently in anatomical articulation, indicating primary burial. The skull was not preserved, but the head seems to have been set on a headrest in the east of the tomb. Upper limb bones (humerus and radius) were unearthed in the eastern part of the tomb, and in the western part were two lower limb bones (femurs). The epiphyseal fusion in the upper limb bones indicates that the deceased was >15 years old (Johnston and Zimmer 1989).
Tomb 209. Fragments of lower limb bones and a skull were found in the eastern part of the tomb. According to the morphology of the skull and the robust tibias, the deceased may have been a male (Bass 1987:81–82, 228–238). Based on the epiphyseal fusion in the tibia, the deceased was >19 years old (Johnston and Zimmer 1989).
Tomb 210 contained a few fragments of postcranial bones. The distal epiphyseal fusion in the upper limb (humerus) indicates that the deceased was >14 years old (Johnston and Zimmer 1989). The sex, however, could not be determined.
The excavation revealed part of the northern cemetery of Dor from the Roman period (first–second centuries CE). Remains and artifacts from the tombs contribute to an understanding of burial customs in this period and show that a wealthy population inhabited the settlement. A coin from the late Ottoman period shows activity at the site at this time as well.