Like so many sites throughout Israel, Tel Dan is a unique combination of nature and culture. With rare archeological findings of city life dating back to the Neolithic or Stone Age and lush river greenery along the river, Tel Dan is a feast for the mind and senses.
Ancient and Modern History
The modern day site of Tel Dan rests on the ruins of what is thought to have been the biblical city of Dan. Named for the tribe of Dan, which was described in the Book of Judges as the largest of the twelve Israelite tribes, the city of Dan was the northern home of ancient Israel and considered a major center for trade and business. Tel Dan's location in Israel's northern region near to the Lebanese border has also made it the host of bitter battles – notably during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Believed to have been one of the key rest stops on the historic route from Egypt to Syria, Tel Dan was historically named Leshem or Laish, before receiving the name Dan after being settled by the Israelites. Egyptian documents dating back to the nineteenth century BCE describe Leshem as a prominent and prosperous trading center. It wasn't until the eleventh century BCE, some eight hundred years later that Leshem was conquered by the Israelites of the Exodus story, and the city’s name was changed to Dan. The Tel Dan archeological site will allow visitors a very real glimpse into those turbulent biblical times.
A Natural Resource
The Dan River is one of four tributaries that drain into the Jordan River. Like the Banias, the Dan’s source is Mount Hermon, where abundant winter snows melt and flow down to the Dan and the Jordan River. The large reserve has numerous brooks, streams and hiking trails to enjoy. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, choose the trail that runs between the water-powered flourmill and the archeological site. You can also focus on indoor activities at the Beit Ussishkin Regional Museum of Nature and Archeology for a collection of artifacts well as a detailed exhibition of the flora and fauna of the region.
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