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Biblical Archaeology Review 48:3, Fall 2022

Site-Seeing: Exploring Beautiful Tel Dan

By Jonathan Klawans

The archaeology bug runs unequally in some families. I have no scientific data to back this claim, but anecdotal evidence abounds, starting in my own home. When planning a trip under these circumstances, the best thing may be finding archaeological sites that appeal in other ways.

Tel Dan fits the bill, boasting both biblical archaeology and unrivaled natural beauty.

Tel Dan’s archaeological credentials are impeccable. Toward the site’s eastern edge, one can see what is said to be the oldest intact archway ever found, part of a Middle Bronze Age (2000–1550 B.C.E.) gate to the Canaanite city—removing yet another architectural achievement for which the Romans are traditionally credited. Just southwest of the Canaanite gate is another gate complex (see image), this one from the Israelite period (1200–721 B.C.E.). It was here that the various fragments of the famous Tel Dan inscription were found, in secondary use. As BAR readers will recall, this ninth-century B.C.E. Aramaic inscription may well preserve the earliest written record mentioning King David.

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