temple found in Israel by UC Berkeley archaeologist; it opens
window on Jewish history
Patricia McBroom, Media Relations
quality images are available for download
- The earliest evidence of a Greek temple in Israel has been
discovered by a University of California, Berkeley, archaeologist
in excavations of a northern port city that was once King
Solomon's harbor on the Mediterranean Sea.
at Tel Dor, 25 miles south of Haifa, dates to the first or
second century B.C. It pushes back evidence of a major Greek
presence in Palestine and surrounding territories by 200 years,
said Andrew Stewart, a UC Berkeley professor of art history
and classics in the campus's College of Letters & Science.
Greek temple columns and fragments of the superstructure,
Stewart found a headless statue of the Greek winged goddess
Victory (Nike, in Greek) and a beautiful section of floor
mosaic depicting women wearing hats full of flowers and fruits.
Restoration of the artifacts, discovered in August, has now
the discoveries were dug from pits where they had been discarded
in ancient times to create the foundation for another building.
This evidence of destruction leads Stewart to believe the
temple was dismantled in a revival of Jewish traditionalism
at Dor that occurred briefly in 100 or 99 B.C., when the Jewish
king, Alexander Jannaeus, took control of the city.
part of a crusade by the Hasmonean dynasty to wipe out all
pagan symbols, to clean the slate after two centuries of paganism,"
said Stewart. "If we are right about the date of this deposit,
this is the first evidence of the Hasmonean destruction of
pagan shrines and a direct link with Jewish history."
of history is contained in the Book of Maccabees that follows
the end of the Bible's Old Testament and in the writings of
the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.
city of up to 25,000 people in its heyday and mentioned many
times in the Old Testament, Dor is now a tall mound of deposits
about 75 feet high and 75 acres in expanse, projecting into
the Mediterranean. It contains the remains of almost every
civilization that ever passed through the Middle East, beginning
with the Canaanites who established the city in 2000 B.C.
times, Dor was controlled by the Egyptians, Sikils, Phoenicians,
Israelites, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. It is
currently under Israeli control. But, because of its ancient
location on Israel's northern border, it never stayed long
in Jewish hands, said Stewart.
may have conquered Dor around 1000 B.C., after which it became
Solomon's main port on the Mediterranean. Solomon tucked the
city into a dowry for his daughter, and it was part of the
northern kingdom of Israel until it was sacked by the Assyrians
in 732 B.C.
changed hands every two or three centuries after that. It
was completely abandoned in Roman times around 235 A.D., never
to rise again.
spent enormous amounts of time and money building two huge
temple complexes at Dor and then just walked away from them.
And we have no idea why," said Stewart.
controlled Dor twice, in the mid fifth century B.C. and during
the Hellenistic period that began in 332 B.C., after Alexander
the Great conquered the Middle East. Pottery and coins testify
to Greek influence, but without evidence of habitation, there
had been no way to prove whether many Greeks actually lived
discovery of the temple columns now provides that evidence,
pointing to a substantial community of settlers.
a new chapter to Greek art and architecture," said Stewart.
"No one had found Greek architecture and sculpture like this
in Israel before. Now we have it."
of Nike, about two feet high, would have stood at the corner
of the temple, on top of the pediment, Stewart said. It is
not known whether the mosaic section he found is from the
Greek temple or some other building.
it likely that any archaeologist will soon find out. Only
three percent of the incredibly rich site has been excavated,
and Stewart has no idea where the temple's foundation is located.
to return to Tel Dor again in the summer of 2003 with 30 to
50 volunteers from the Bay Area and elsewhere. Unlike most
countries with deposits from ancient civilizations, Israel
allows excavation by volunteers rather than by paid workers;
Stewart has taken some 400 volunteers to Tel Dor over the
them, and they do the digging," he said. "I take anyone between
the ages of 18 and 80, who's fit and willing to work."
quality images are available for download