DIGGING, DIGGING, AND STILL DIGGING DAN
THE BIRAN EXCAVATIONS
Beginning in 1966, renowned Israeli archaeologist Avraham Biran mined the mound of Tel Dan for its secrets. After nearly thirty years of excavation, he concluded his work with the amazing discovery of the House of David inscription. In addition to training a generation of younger archaeologists, Biran made a series of remarkable discoveries about the Bronze Age cultures of the southern Levant, the Israelite settlement of the northern Galilee, and the establishment of a royal political and religious center of the biblical kingdom of Israel. After all these accomplishments, however, the artifacts of more than ninety percent of the mound still lie underground waiting to be discovered.
THE RENEWED EXCAVATIONS
In 2005, the Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion launched a new expedition to Tel Dan under the direction of David Ilan and co-directed by Yifat Thareani. New questions have emerged that we are currently seeking to creatively engage including:
questions about the ethnicity--or ethnicities, more accurately--of the Iron Age I inhabitants of the site.
questions about the relationship between the booming Iron II temple complex and the inhabitants of the site, as well as those in the greater region.
questions about Assyrian colonization following the conquest of the region by Tiglath Pileser III in the mid-eighth century BCE.
The renewed excavations also hope to introduce new scientific methods to the excavations including infrared soil analysis, GPR, and isotope analysis of faunal remains, in addition to gathering a new set of samples for radiocarbon dating.
Fieldwork in Area B in 2020 at Tel Dan is also part of the Turning Points research program, directed by Aaron A. Burke of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), David Ilan of Hebrew Union College (HUC), Jerusalem, and Ellen Morris (Barnard College). The aim of this project is a renewed and multispectral approach to the transition between the Late Bronze and Early Iron ages, c. 1300 and 950 B.C. A variety of high-resolution approaches will be applied to excavations in Area B during the upcoming season in an effort to recover new data on this fascinating period.