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The Nelson Glueck School of Biblicl Archaeology at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Announces the Nomination of the Tel Dan Triple-Arched Gate as a Candidate for This Year's Unesco World Heritage Site

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Monday, January 3, 2005

The Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology (NGSBA) at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem is proud to announce that the Israel UNESCO committee has decided to nominate the Tel Dan triple-arched gate as its candidate this year for a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the field of the History of Technology. The NGSBA was the nomination's sponsor; and the nomination represents a major step forward for the future preservation of the gate, which at present is deteriorating. 

The gate, constructed of mud bricks on a stone socle, is dated to the Middle Bronze Age, circa 1750 BCE, and is the oldest true arched monument preserved on the planet. It is an edifice of human ingenuity and architectural panache, but it also tells a story. For all its monumental glory, the gate was a failure--it was only used for a few years before its deterioration under the Mediterranean climate regime brought the leaders of Tel Dan to bury it within the town's earthen ramparts. Another gate, this time of stone and wooden beams, was constructed on the south side of the tel, beneath the Iron Age gates visitors pass through today. 

Didn't the builder's of the gate know their masterpiece would collapse? According to Dr. David Ilan, NGSBA Director, probably not. "If my hypothesis is correct," Ilan says, "the people who planned and erected the gate came from Syria or Mesopotamia, where mudbrick is the default building material, since wood and stone are unavailable. These lands are also more arid than the Tel Dan region (100 millimeters--about 4 inches--of yearly rainfall on average versus circa 600 millimeters--about 24 inches--at Tel Dan). Thus, the Tel Dan arched gate tells a story of immigration in distant antiquity, and the failure of high technology that is not suited to a different environment." 

Ilan invites you to come see the gate for yourself and to visit the NGSBA, as well. "We will be excavating in Tel Dan or in its hinterland this summer and hope to see you there." 

For more information, please contact: 
Dr. David Ilan, Director
Nelson Glueck School of Biblical Archaeology
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
13 King David St.
Jerusalem 94101
tel office 972-2-6203257/8

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.