Disheveled Tenacity: The North Bay of Roman and Byzantine Dor


Tel Dor overlooks the eastern Mediterranean on the southern Levantine coastline of Israel. Underwater surveys and a coastal excavation in the North Bay of Dor have produced evidence of an anchorage at the 4th–7th century CE Byzantine city of Dora. The existence of such an anchorage at the northwestern extremity of the city had been contemplated in the past. Also identified are traces of maritime activity from the time period between the 1st century BCE and 3rd century CE and from earlier periods. The concurrent use of the North Bay and the nearby South Bay and Tantura Lagoon during late antiquity mostly took advantage of the natural coastal morphology, augmented only modestly by man-made infrastructure. These three sites served local and interregional maritime traffic at Dor, a clear attestation to a decentralized resource management that resists strict categorization. The resulting image of the maritime interface(s) at Dor does not fit perceptions of a harbor as a spatially rigid, centralized managed phenomenon. Such a seemingly disheveled use of the scarce resource of natural anchorages has shown remarkable tenacity over the longue durée in the southern Levant, as typified by Dor in late antiquity.

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  1. 1.

    These are, in chronological order, Dor D (Kingsley 2002), Dor 2001/1 (Mor and Kahanov 2006), Tantura A (Pomey et al. 2012), Dor 2006 (Barkan et al. 2013) and Tantura E (Israeli and Kahanov 2014).

  2. 2.

    The field work for this research was carried out as part of the Tel Dor Excavation Project. The survey and the excavations were conducted by student divers from the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa as well as volunteer divers, for whose support we are grateful. Underwater operations were carried with the help of the Maritime Workshop of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa.Alexandra Ratzlaff and Inbal Samet served as area supervisors for the coastal excavation. All work was carried out by kind permission of the Israeli Antiquities Authority (permits S389/2012, G-2/2014 and S534/2015) and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. We thank Kibbutz Nahsholim for their kind support and cooperation. Support for this project was provided through funding and grants from the Honor Frost Foundation, the Israel Science Foundation, the Lady Irene and Sir Maurice Hatter Scholarship Fund, the PADI Foundation, the Rotary Club Moriah-Haifa Branch and the Dept. of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa.

  3. 3.

    Reviewed and published with kind permission of the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies. DY-13-4-83מח-3\5 is a Keay Type XVI Variant A Amphora (Keay 1984: 149, 155) dated to the 3rd c. CE, and DY-13-4-83מח-3\1 is an unclassified Palestinian bag jar in gritty Orange Fabric from Caesarea (Johnson 2008: 89, nos. 1081, 1082), dated to the Late Roman to Byzantine period.


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Arkin Shalev, E., Gambash, G. & Yasur-Landau, A. Disheveled Tenacity: The North Bay of Roman and Byzantine Dor. J Mari Arch 14, 205–237 (2019).

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  • Tel Dor
  • Dora
  • Roman and Byzantine Anchorage
  • Underwater survey