From the Middle Bronze Age on, Dor, located on the south Levantine coast, was a vital commercial port. It is currently one of the most important sites for understanding the beginning of Phoenician civilization. It is also a key site for the diachronic study of maritime networks and for research on coastal and maritime structures related to maritime activity in the Iron Age and possibly earlier.
A successful trial season in 2016, aimed at examining the methodology of a joint land and sea strategy, led to unexpected results regarding the understanding of known coastal and underwater structures and discovered new underwater structures and features. We were able to conduct stratigraphical excavations underwater, acquiring datable archaeological material with clear connections to architectural underwater features: massive Iron 1b-2 structures (10th-9th centuries BCE); an earlier wall (Iron 1a or Late Bronze Age?); an artificial “reef” made of ashlar blocks; a possible mole of yet undetermined date; and deposits of clay with ceramics dating to the Middle Bronze Age (ca. 20th—16th centuries BCE) and to the late Neolithic or Chalcolithic periods (6th-5th millennia BCE).
The planned underwater excavation season at Dor will concentrate, therefore, on reassessing the chronology and nature of maritime activity in the south bay of the site. Our major goals for the planned underwater project are to create a stratigraphic section from the water line immediately below the tell, extending southward into the water, and to excavate the new underwater features found and examine their relation to maritime activity in the bay.