Tel Dan is one of the most important sites in the ancient Near East, in general, and for Biblical archaeology, in particular. Situated at the base of snow-capped Mount Hermon on the headwaters of the Jordan, Dan has been an important settlement from the Neolithic period (ca. 5,000 B.C.E.) through the early modern period.
Archaeological highlights include massive Early Bronze Age fortifications (ca. 2900–2200), the earliest preserved mudbrick arched gate in the world (ca. 1900–1500 B.C.E.), a spectacular treasure-filled Mycenaean tomb from the Late Bronze Age (ca. 1500–1200 B.C.E.), an early Iron Age I agrarian settlement that some associate with the Israelites (ca. 1200–1000 B.C.E.), major fortifications and what is apparently an Israelite temple—perhaps where Jeroboam’s golden calf once stood (1 Kings 12)—from the Iron Age II (ca. 1000–700 B.C.E.), and various figurines, statues and inscriptions from the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Perhaps the most famous find from Tel Dan is a stela, likely commissioned by Hazael of Aram sometime in the ninth century B.C.E., identifying a Judahite king from the “house of David” and thus providing the only extra-Biblical reference to the famed King David from the Bible.
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6 miles from Kiryat Shemonah
Bronze Age, Iron Age, Hellenistic Period, Roman Period
David Ilan, Director of the Tel Dan excavations, is Director of the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College. Dr. Ilan was the Zemsky Visiting Professor of Judaic Studies at John’s Hopkins University in 2006–7. His publications deal with a wide range of subjects: the Middle Bronze Age of the southern Levant, the archaeology of death, northern Israel in the early Iron Age, community and archaeology and the problem of antiquities plunder and trade. He is currently preparing a series of final publications on the Tel Dan excavations with the staff of the Nelson Glueck School and a book on the religion and iconography of the Chalcolithic Period in the Levant.
Yifat Thareani, Codirector of the Tel Dan excavations, is a Research Archaeologist at the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology at the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College and current Codirector for the excavations at Achziv. Dr. Thareani has served on the Tel Dan excavation staff as Codirector for the 2006, 2008 and 2012 seasons and is responsible for the final publication of the Iron Age II remains at the site. Her recent research explores questions related to cultural responses to various control strategies (empires and local kingdoms) and their reflection in the archaeological record. The material culture from Tel Dan serves as a case study for the examination of the relationships between the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Aram-Damascus and the Neo-Assyrian Empire in the region.
Jonathan Greer, Associate Director of Excavations and Staff Zooarchaeologist of the Tel Dan excavations, is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Director of the Hesse Memorial Archaeological Laboratory. His publications include technical analyses of animal bone remains as well as works dealing with the integration of Biblical texts and archaeological materials, especially those from Tel Dan. He is currently working on a project aimed at understanding the relationship between Biblical priestly prescriptions and archaeological remains from cultic sites in the Levant.