Archaeology and Nature at Tel Dan

May 16th 2013

Tel Dan National ParkIf you’re looking for Biblical history, stunning natural surroundings and fascinating archaeological finds together in one destination, be sure to include the Tel Dan National Park to your Israeli itinerary. In the northeast corner of Israel, where the Jordan River, the Hula Valley and Mount Hermon meet, lies the site of biblical city of Dan, today the Tel Dan National Park. The park and the biblical city are named for Dan, the largest of the 12 tribes of Israel.

The city of Dan was the capital of the Northern Kingdom for more than 210 years, after ten of the 12 tribes of Israel ceded from the rest of the Nation of Israel during the reign of King David’s grandson. Due to its status as a capital city, its border location and the size of the tribe of Dan, it was also an important center for trade business.

The Dan River, which runs through the Tel Dan National Park, is the largest tributary of the Jordan River. The nature reserve is brimming with brooks and streams that flow into the Dan River. Scores of beautiful plant species, majestic trees that provide plentiful shade and hiking trails await visitors to the park.

The park covers 120 acres and has three separate hiking trails. A short portion of one of the trails is wheelchair and stroller friendly. Although it’s not a place for full-fledged swimming, there is a shallow wading pool for adults and young children to enjoy.

For archaeology enthusiasts, Tel Dan is one of the most important excavation sites in all of Israel. During the time the nation of Israel was divided, King Jeroboam of the Northern Kingdom established an alternative temple along with its own golden calf. His purpose was to dissuade his subjects from traveling to Jerusalem to worship at the site of the First Holy Temple. The altar of King Jeroboam’s temple is an important archeological find. Stretching further back in time, you can explore ruins from the Canaanite city of Laish, predecessor to the biblical city of Dan. To top off your visit, stop at the Beit Ussishkin Nature Museum on nearby Kibbutz Dan, where the finds from 28 seasons of excavations at Tel Dan are exhibited.