Understanding the Four-Chambered Gate

Sometime after Pharaoh Shishak’s destruction of Dor in 925 B.C.E.—probably in the next century—a new, monumental gate was built on the eastern side of the city. Standing almost 70 feet wide and nearly as deep, with 6-foot-thick walls, the gate consisted of two chambers on each side of the central passageway. These chambers were the lowest story of two towers. The plan of this gate is identical to Megiddo’s stratum-IVA gate, built by King Ahab of Israel (874–853 B.C.E.), so it was probably also built by Ahab’s architects.

All that remains of this four-chambered gate, as it is called, are its base of limestone blocks and debris from its former mudbrick superstructure. Archaeologists faced a difficult task in trying to distinguish the components of this gate from earlier and later structures, below and above the four-chambered gate. A two-chambered gate from the Assyrian occupation (end of the eighth century B.C.E.) and other gates lie above, and an earlier, tenth-century B.C.E. wall lies below. The detail plan shows the superimposition of the two-chambered gate on top of the four-chambered gate, as well as a stone-paved road that linked the inner, four-chambered gate with an outer gate to the northeast.

A row of seven orthostats—well-hewn and smoothed slabs standing about 5 feet high and 3 feet wide—decorated one of the inner sides of the four-chambered gate. The tops of these orthostats, not yet fully uncovered, appear on the left side of the wall at the center of the photo of the gate area. Traces of this gate’s fiery destruction appear as a layer of orange and black debris visible to the left of the orthostats.

An offset-inset wall adjoined the four-chambered gate on each side. The salients in this type of wall allowed the defenders to concentrate more firepower on anyone attacking a particular section of wall, because they could launch their arrows and slingstones from either side as well as from the front.

A sherd from a rare, late Geometric Greek bowl (750–700 B.C.E.), found on the floor of the four-chambered gate, helped to fix the date of the gate’s destruction, which came at the hands of the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser in 733 B.C.E.