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Tel Dor

Coordinates: 32°37′03″N 34°55′03″E / 32.61750°N 34.91750°E / 32.61750; 34.91750
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Tel Dor
Tel Dor from above
Tel Dor is located in Haifa region of Israel
Tel Dor
Shown within Haifa region of Israel
Tel Dor is located in Israel
Tel Dor
Tel Dor (Israel)
Alternative nameTell el-Burj, Khirbet el-Burj (Arabic)
LocationHaifa District, Israel
Coordinates32°37′03″N 34°55′03″E / 32.61750°N 34.91750°E / 32.61750; 34.91750
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins
Tulipa agenensis sharonensis, Dor-Habonim beach

Tel Dor (Hebrew: דוֹר or דאר‎, meaning "generation", "habitation") or Tell el-Burj, also Khirbet el-Burj in Arabic (lit. Tell, or Ruin, of the Tower), is an archaeological site located on the Israeli coastal plain of the Mediterranean Sea next to modern moshav Dor, about 30 kilometers (19 mi) south of Haifa, and 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) west of Hadera. Lying on a small headland at the north side of a protected inlet, it is identified with D-jr of Egyptian sources, Biblical Dor, and with Dor/Dora of Greek and Roman sources.[1]

The documented history of the site begins in the Late Bronze Age (though the town itself was founded in the Middle Bronze Age, c. 2000 BCE), and ends in the Crusader period.[citation needed] The port dominated the fortunes of the town throughout its 3,000 year history. Its primary role in all these diverse cultures was that of a commercial entrepôt and a gateway between East and West. The remains of the pre-1948 Palestinian Arab village of Tantura lie a few hundred meters south of the archaeological site. A kibbutz and the resort of Nahsholim were built on the site of the village.


in hieroglyphs
Era: Late Period
(664–332 BC)

Dor (Hebrew: דוֹר or דאר, meaning "generation", "habitation"), was known as Dora (Greek: τὰ Δῶρα)[3] to the Greeks and Romans, and as Dir in the Late Egyptian Story of Wenamun.[2] Dor was successively ruled by Canaanites, Sea Peoples, Phoenicians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans.

The city was known as Dor even before the Greeks arrived or had contact with the peoples in Israel. When the Greeks came to the city and learned its name to be Dor, they called it Dora, possibly after a Dorus said to be a son of Poseidon.[4][5]

Location and identification[edit]

Dora of the classical period has been placed in the ninth mile from Caesarea, on the way to Ptolemais (Acre). Just at the point indicated was the small village of Tantura, probably an Arabic corruption of Dora.[6]

Hebrew Bible[edit]

1759 map of the Holy Land and 12 tribes, showing Dor as part of Manasseh

Many scholars doubt the historical accuracy of biblical texts relevant to times prior to the 9th century BCE. They suggest that the biblical context for such places as early Dor is more mythology than history.[7]

In the Hebrew Bible, Dor is depicted as an ancient royal city of the Canaanites, (Joshua 12:23) whose ruler was an ally of Jabin king of Hazor against Joshua, (Joshua 11:1,2). It appears to have been within the territory of the tribe of Manasseh, though they never managed to conquer it (Joshua 17:11; Judges 1:27). It was one of Solomon's commissariat districts (Judges 1:27; 1 Kings 4:11).[6][clarification needed]

History and archaeology[edit]

Antiquities at Tel Dor

According to IAA archaeologists, the importance of Dor is that it is the only natural harbour on the Levant coast south of the Ladder of Tyre, and thus was occupied continuously from Phoenician times until the late 18th century.[8] According to Josephus, however, its harbour was inferior to that of Caesarea.[9]

Dor is mentioned in the 3rd-century Mosaic of Rehob as being a place exempt from tithes, seeing that it was not settled by Jews returning from the Babylonian exile in the 4th century BCE. Schürer suggests that Dor, along with Caesarea, may have initially been built towards the end of the Persian period.[10]

Early Iron Age[edit]

After the Late Bronze Age collapse, the town appears to have been settled by a migrant group called the Tjekker. In the Egyptian literary text known as the Story of Wenamun, the main character visits Dor and is received by Tjekker prince named Beder. This layer of the settlement is known archaeologically as Dor XII, and dates from c. 1150–1050 BC.

Persian period[edit]

In ca. 460 BCE, the Athenians formed an alliance with the Egyptian leader Inaros against the Persians.[11][12] In order to reach the Nile delta and support the Egyptians, the Athenian fleet had to sail south. Athens had secured landing sites for their triremes as far south as Cyprus, but they needed a way station between Cyprus and Egypt. They needed a naval base on the coast of Lebanon or Palestine, but the Phoenician cities of Sidon and Tyre held much of the mainland coast and those cities were loyal to Persia. Fifty miles south of those cities, however, the Athenians found an isolated and tempting target for establishing a way station.[13]

The Athenians seized Dor from Sidon. Dor had many strategic advantages for the Athenians, starting with its distance from Sidon. The Athenians had a maritime empire built on oared ships. They did not need large tracts of land and instead needed strategically situated coastal sites that had fresh water, provisions and protection from bad weather and enemy attack. Dor had an unfailing freshwater spring near the edge of the sea and to its south a lagoon and sandy beach enclosed by a chain of islets. This was precisely what the Athenian fleet needed for landing their ships and resting their crews. Dor itself was strategically situated. It stood atop a rocky promontory and was protected on its landward side by a marshy swale that formed a natural moat. Beyond the coastal lowlands was Mount Carmel. The town had Persian-built fortifications. In addition to this, the town had straight streets and Phoenician dye pits for the purpling of cloth. For these reasons, Dor became the most remote outpost of the Athenian navy.

Hellenistic period[edit]

In 138 BC, Dora was the scene of battle between Seleucid emperor Antiochus VII Sidetes and the usurper Diodotus Tryphon, leading to the latter's flight and ultimately his death.[3]

Roman period[edit]

In the early 40s CE, young men in Dor placed a statue of Emperor Claudius inside a Jewish synagogue, provoking a challenge to Jewish ownership of the space. Agrippa responded by appealing to Petronius, the legate of Syria, who ordered the statue's removal and reaffirmed Jewish rights to practice their customs freely under imperial decree.[14]

State of Israel[edit]

A moshav south of Tel Dor is named "Dor" after the ancient city.

The victims of the 1948 Tantura massacre are buried in a mass grave under a car park for the nearby Tel Dor beach.[15][16]

Excavation history[edit]

Excavations at Tel Dor
Beach at Tel Dor

Tel Dor ("the Ruin of Dor") was first investigated in the 1920s by John Garstang, on behalf of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. J. Leibowitz excavated in the lower town around the tell in the 1950s. From 1979 to 1983, Claudine Dauphin excavated a church east of the tell. Avner Raban excavated harbour installations and other constructions mainly south and west of the mound in 1979 - 1984. Underwater surveys around the site were carried out by Kurt Raveh, Shelley Wachsman and Saen Kingsley. Ephraim Stern, of the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University, directed twenty seasons of excavations at the site between 1980 and 2000, in cooperation with the Israel Exploration Society.[17] The eleven excavation areas opened have revealed a wealth of information about the Iron Age, Persian, Hellenistic and Early Roman periods.

Archaeological findings[edit]

Purple dye production[edit]

As of 2001, excavations at the site have yielded an apparatus for the production of a purple dye solution, dating to the Persian and Hellenistic periods, wherein there was still a thick layer of quicklime (calcium oxide) which served, according to scholars, in helping to separate the dye from the mollusks after they had been broken and removed from their shells.[18] These mollusks were primarily imported into the region from other places along the Mediterranean coast, and consisted of species Phorcus turbinatus, Patella caerulea, Stramonita haemastoma, Hexaplex trunculus, among other species.[19]

Neolithic tsunami[edit]

In 2020, archaeologists discovered evidence of a tsunami that destroyed middle Pre-Pottery Neolithic B coastal settlements in Tel Dor, Israel as it traveled between 3.5 to 1.5 km inland. The tsunami was approximately 16 m high. Recovery in the affected areas was slow but overall, it did not significantly affect the social development of the southern Levant.[20] Whilst the tsunami is not identified with the Biblical flood, it is believed to contribute to the flood myths found in numerous cultures.[21]


Former glass factory at Nahsholim, now a museum

The historic 'Glasshouse' museum building, located in kibbutz Nahsholim, some 500 meters south of the site itself, now houses the Center for Nautical and Regional Archaeology at Dor (CONRAD), consisting of the expedition workrooms and a museum displaying the finds from Tel Dor and its region such as documenting the city's importance in the ancient world as a manufacturer of the prestigious azure and crimson colours from sea snails.[22] The house is an old glass-making factory from the 19th century built by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild.[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gibson, S., Kingsley, S. and J. Clarke. 1999. "Town and Country in the Southern Carmel: Report on the Landscape Archaeology Project at Dor," Levant 31:71-121.
  2. ^ a b Schipper, Bernd (2005). Die Erzählung des Wenamun: ein Literaturwerk im Spannungsfeld von Politik, Geschichte und Religion. Göttingen: Academic Press Fribourg. p. 45. ISBN 3525530676.
  3. ^ a b Josephus, The Jewish War (1:52).
  4. ^ Wachsmann, Shelley; Raveh, Kurt (August 1984). "A concise nautical history of Dor/Tantura". International Journal of Nautical Archaeology. 13 (3): 223–241. Bibcode:1984IJNAr..13..223W. doi:10.1111/j.1095-9270.1984.tb01194.x. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  5. ^ Hunter, Richard; Rengakos, Antonios; Sistakou, Evina (3 March 2015). Hellenistic Studies at a Crossroads: Exploring Texts, Contexts and Metatexts. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG. ISBN 9783110368130. Retrieved 22 August 2022.
  6. ^ a b Stern, E. 1994. Dor — Ruler of the Seas. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society.
  7. ^ Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman. 2002. The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York: Touchstone.
  8. ^ Freeman-Greenville, G.S.P. (1994). "Reviewed Work: The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land by Ephraim Stern". Journal of the Asiatic Society. 4 (3). Cambridge University Press: 327. JSTOR 25182937.
  9. ^ Josephus (1981). Josephus Complete Works. Translated by William Whiston. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications. p. 331. ISBN 0-8254-2951-X., s.v. Antiquities 15.9.6. (15.331)
  10. ^ Schürer, E. (1891). Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu Christi [A History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ]. Vol. 1. Translated by Miss Taylor. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 84 (note 121).
  11. ^ Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War. Richard Crawley (trans.). 1.104. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  12. ^ Diodorus Siculus (1946). Library of History. Vol. 4. C. H. Oldfather (trans.). Loeb Classical Library. 11.71.3-6. ISBN 978-0-674-99413-3. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  13. ^ Hale, John (2009). Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the Birth of Democracy. New York: Viking. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-670-02080-5.
  14. ^ Rogers, Guy MacLean (2021). For the Freedom of Zion: the Great Revolt of Jews against Romans, 66-74 CE. New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 93, 536. ISBN 978-0-300-24813-5.
  15. ^ Raz, Adam (2022-01-20). "There's a mass Palestinian grave at a popular Israeli beach, veterans confess". Haaretz. Retrieved 2024-04-14.
  16. ^ McKernan, Bethan; correspondent, Bethan McKernan Jerusalem (2023-05-25). "UK study of 1948 Israeli massacre of Palestinian village reveals mass grave sites". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2024-04-14.
  18. ^ Spanier, Yossi; Sasson, Avi (2001). Limekilns in the Land of Israel (כבשני סיד בארץ-ישראל) (in Hebrew). Ariel: Jerusalem: Land of Israel Museum. p. 8 (Preface). OCLC 48108956.
  19. ^ Gilboa, Ayelet; Sharon, Ilan; Zorn, Jeffrey R.; Matskevich, Sveta (2018). "Excavations at Dor, Final Report: Volume IIB Area G, The Late Bronze and Iron Ages: Pottery, Artifacts, Ecofacts and other Studies". Qedem Reports. 11. Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: III–340. JSTOR 26493565.
  20. ^ Shtienberg, Gilad; Yasur-Landau, Assaf; Norris, Richard D.; Lazar, Michael; Rittenour, Tammy M.; Tamberino, Anthony; Gadol, Omir; Cantu, Katrina; Arkin-Shalev, Ehud; Ward, Steven N.; Levy, Thomas E. (2020). "A Neolithic mega-tsunami event in the eastern Mediterranean: Prehistoric settlement vulnerability along the Carmel coast, Israel". PLOS One. 15 (12) – via PLOS One.
  21. ^ Kiderra, Inga (December 23, 2020). "Massive Tsunami Hit the Neolithic Middle East 9,000+ Years Ago". UC San Diego Today. Archived from the original on December 15, 2023.
  22. ^ HaMizgaga Museum Archived 2008-06-29 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ History of the Bashan family Archived 2008-11-22 at the Wayback Machine


External links[edit]