Early Iron Age Radiometric Dates from Tel Dor: Preliminary Implications for Phoenicia and Beyond
Radiocarbon: An International Journal of Cosmogenic Isotope Research
The absolute date of the Iron Age I and IIa periods in Israel, and by inference in the Southern Levant at large, are to date among the hottest debated issues in Syro-Palestinian archaeology. As there are no pegs of absolute chronology throughout this range, conventional chronology had been established on proposed correlations of the material record with events and social phenomena as portrayed in historical and literary sources, chiefly the Hebrew Bible. With the growing impact of so-called
... isionist" notions in Biblical studies, which to various extents question the historicity of the Bible, it is imperative to try to establish a chronological framework for the Iron I–IIa range that is independent of historical and so forth considerations, inter alia in order to be able to offer an independent archaeological perspective of the biblical debate. The most obvious solution is to attempt a radiocarbon-based chronology. This paper explores the possible implications of a sequence of 22 radiometric dates obtained from a detailed Iron I–IIa stratigraphic/ceramic sequence at Tel Dor, on Israel's Mediterranean coast. To date, this is the largest such sequence from any single early Iron Age site in Israel. Having been part of the Phoenician commercial sphere in the early Iron Age, Dor offers a variegated sequence of ceramics that have a significant spatial distribution beyond Phoenicia, and thus transcend regional differences and enable correlation with the surrounding regions. By and large, the absolute dates of these ceramics by the Dor radiometric chronology are up to a century lower than those established by conventional Palestinian ceramic chronology. The ramifications of the lower Dor dates for some Phoenician, Israelite, and Cypriot early Iron Age archaeological issues are explored.