Tel Dor is an ancient port city with centuries of rich history and archeological finds. Its ruins lay on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, roughly 30 kilometers south of Haifa in northern Israel. Many tour groups often skip Tel Dor during their time in Israel; nevertheless, this site holds biblical history and is considered to be one of the most important archeological sites in northern Israel.
The Canaanites were the first to establish a city at Dor in the 20th century BC. This city is mentioned in early Egyptian sources as the coastal city of “D-jr.” It is also mentioned in the Bible (Joshua 11-12) as one of the Canaanite cities that joined a coalition against the invading Israelites. Joshua and the Israelites conquered Dor which then became a part of Manasseh’s tribal allotment.
1 Kings 4:11 states that “all the region of Dor” was incorporated into the Israelite kingdom under king Solomon. This lasted until the Assyrians conquered Israel and exiled the Israelites. As a result, the Assyrians controlled Dor and made it one of their primary cities.
After the Assyrians’ rule, Dor was conquered by the Babylonians, followed by the Persians. During the Persian rule (538-332 BC), Dor was maintained by the Phoenicians, who turned it into a flourishing port city.
During the Hellenistic Period, Josephus Flavius described Dor (known as Dora at the time) as a “fortress hard to be taken.” Then, during the Romans’ rule, Dor was built up to meet the Roman standards and considered to be “ruler of the seas;” foundations of the Roman temple can be seen in the photo below. However, during Herod the Great’s rule, Dor declined as the primary port city became Caesarea.
In the 1100’s AD, the Crusaders built a fortress at Dor, which was later destroyed by the Mamluks. Then, during the Ottoman Empire, Dor (known as Tantura at the time) was expanded for better trade with Europe.
In 1799, Napoleon and his army retreated to Dor after they failed to conquer Acre. They abandoned their cannons and destroyed their ammunition here before continuing on to Jaffa. Some of their equipment can be seen at the Dor Museum.
Visiting Dor Today
Over 30 seasons of archeological excavations were carried out at Tel Dor. The rich history provides complex remains that fascinated archeologists. Today, visitors can walk about freely on the ancient ruins and visit the Dor Museum that holds special artifacts found onsite. Dor is also known as a place for romance and relaxation. There are multiple resorts in the area that give visitors the opportunity to enjoy the beauty in history and nature.