Northern Sites Stories
Tel Dan is a nature reserve located in north Israel.
Entering the Tel Dan reserve is like stepping into a wonderland:
scores of bubbling brooks feed into a running river;
tall treetops reach for the sky, the ground is always shaded and
refreshing cool, even at noon on a hot summer's day.
It is no wonder that some 7000 years ago people chose the
small hill above the springs as the spot to make their homes.
Of the three sources of the Jordan River, the Dan River is the largest and most important. Its springs provide up to 238 million cubic meters of water annually, equivalent to the water flowing from the Hermon and Snir rivers combined.
Some 8.5 cubic millimeters of water flow through The Dan spring every second,
almost 365 days a year.
The natural drainage basin of the Dan River is very small, which means that
the springs are the source of all of the water that flows here.
This is the reason for the water's low, stable temperature
(about 14.5 degrees centigrade) and high quality (only 10 milligrams of
chlorine per liter).
The springs are fed by the snow and rain that fall on Mt. Hermon.
The water seeps into the mountain, dividing into hundreds of springs
by the time it reaches the foot.
Together these springs form the largest Karstic spring in the Middle East.
Until the 1967 Six Day War, the Dan River was the only source of the
Jordan in Israeli hands. The shortage of water in Israel and the use of
the Dan to meet the needs of the population almost meant the end of the reserve.
The need to use the Dan's water is not a matter of dispute; the question is only
from where the water should be taken.
In 1966 Israel's water planners decided that it would be best to siphon the water
from the source and use the force of gravity to carry it to the Hula Valley.
Nature lovers in Israel believed that the reserve should not be harmed and that
the water should be taken from a point funther to the north.
This struggle went on for three years, but in 1969 the conservation lobby won out
and the Tel Dan Reserve became a reality.
The tiny Tel Dan Reserve covers only about 120 acres.
Thanks to its location and unique environmental conditions,
the reserve contains plants and animals from a variety of worlds.
In 1966 a team led by prof. Avraham Biran began to excavate Tel Dan.
The impressive findings included sections of imposing walls and gates,
as well as a ritual site that dates to the time of dramatic events recounted in the Bible.
The earliest findings from a settlement on the tell belong to the Ceramic Neolithic Age
(beginning of the fifth millennium BCE). A city was first built here during the early
It was populated between 2700 and 2400 BCE.
In the eighteenth century BCE, during the Middle Canaanite period,
a tremendous earth glacis surrounded the city, protecting it for centuries.
The tell is identified with the city of Laish, captured by the tribe of Dan.
The tribe of Dan found it difficult to deal with the Phillistines, and therefore decided
to north: "They proceeded to Laish, a people tranquil and unsuspecting, and they
put them to the sword and burned down the town.
There was none to come to the rescue,
for it was distant from Sidon….They rebuilt the town and settled there,
and they named the town Dan, after their ancestor Dan who was Israel's son.
Originally, however, the name of the town was Laish" (Judes 18:27-29)
Important remains were discovered in a Mycenaean grave from the
late Canaanite period; these are on display along with other artifacts
at Beit Ussishkin .
For more information www.parks.org.il