Dan (Tel Dan) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur
Article Index
Dan (Tel Dan)
City and ramparts
Gate of Judgment
Early Danites
Golden calf
Arched gate

Traces of the early Danites 
Following the modern tourist path, we spot a big excavation on the right. If we walk to its north side and look down in, we can see, above the Canaanite levels and intruding into them, a pit lined with small stones. This is one of many such pits that were here. The diggers cleared most of them in order to explore the levels underneath. 

Such pits are significant. First, they do not fit the kind of upper-class urban culture that characterized Canaanite Laish (as the city was called before the Danites took it). They are thought to be grain-storage pits, made and used by families with little economic surplus. We find clusters of such pits in the numerous small settlements that sprang up throughout the land in the late 13th and the 12th centuries BC. Many of these developed or consolidated into what came to be known as Israelite towns. Here, then, we have a trace of the conquering Danites, who settled in rougher style amid the ruins of what had been an affluent urban culture.

The excavators also found fragments of many large storage jars having necks like a collar, and they were able to date them to the 12th century BC. Such jars are not at all typical of Galilee, but they are extremely typical of the above-mentioned proto-Israelite settlements in the hill country farther south. This would fit the notion that the diggers of the storage pits migrated from the south, i.e., that they were the Danites of Judges 18.

Returning to the cobbled tourist path, we continue north, soon arriving at the Israelite sanctuary.