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

A triple-arched gate 3750 years old

We ascend to the eucalyptus trees just east of the aluminum altar. After a glance into Lebanon, we head a few steps north and find a path that leads east for 200 yards, then south for another 150, until we encounter a sign pointing us to the left down the slope.
After descending, we see on our right, set back into the rampart, what looks at first like a doorway. The archaeologists have dug out only part of an arched entrance. It is made of mud bricks laid in radial pattern. There are two similar arches beyond it inside. The whole thing is set in a mud-brick wall. Using bits of pottery discovered in the plaster that covered this wall, together with a few vessels found on the floor inside, Biran dated this gate to the 18th century BC. So much for the myth that the Romans discovered the arch! 

Biran was also able to determine that the Laishites deliberately put the gate out of commission, filling it in and incorporating it as part of the rampart. Apparently, they considered the straight entrance insecure. The happy result, for us, was that the earth preserved the entire assembly. Except for the recently discovered Canaanite gate at Ashkelon, everywhere else we only see foundations or pieces of gates and walls, and we have to extrapolate in order to reconstruct them in our imaginations. Here we have the full thing, except for the plaster coating, even as a visitor like Father Abram might have seen it on reaching "Dan" (Genesis 14: 14).

In order to leave the site, we stay below and continue a few steps south, then west around the base of the tell. Soon Ahab's gate complex comes into view. We continue west, remaining below and passing it, for about 150 yards more, until a sign points us left to the wading pool. From here it is a short walk to the parking lot, the restaurant -- and restrooms!