About the Site
Located in a quiet setting within the western Galilee of Israel, the site of Tel Kabri is located at the edge of the coastal Akko plain and the inland hills. The site is nearby the modern town of Nahariyya and just a 20 minute drive from the historical city of Acco with its well-preserved, ancient city walls and Ottoman-era market. Today the Tel and its surroundings are agricultural lands, with lush plantations of bananas and avocados overlying the ancient remains.
Kabri represents one of the only possible opportunities available today in the Eastern Mediterranean to excavate a Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace and explore anthropological theories about the rise of archaic states and political economies in the Aegean and the Near East. The excavations utilize modern methods such as residue analysis, petrographic analysis, detailed zooarchaeological study, neutron activation analysis, stable isotope analysis, and petrography to gain insights into some of the most important topics relevant to the understanding of complex human societies. The Kabri project is on the cutting edge of in-field digital technologies including photogrammetric 3-D modeling and micro GIS analysis.
During excavations conducted at the site from 1986-1993 by the late Professor Aharon Kempinski and Professor Wolf-Dietrich Niemeier, a floor and wall frescoes painted in an Aegean manner—probably by Cycladic or Minoan artists—were discovered within a building that they identified as a palace.
Our preliminary excavations in 2005 indicated that the palace, which dates to the Middle Bronze (MB) IIB period during the early second millennium BCE, is at least twice as large as previously thought, with much still remaining to be excavated.
During the 2008 season of excavations we were able to retrieve data from the entire history of the MB palace, from a pre-palatial period through to final destruction. We also found approximately 45 more fragments of wall plaster, at least some of which appear to be painted, and additional evidence for red paint on one of the plaster floors in the palace.
Our 2009 season saw the continued excavation of the palace, with the goal of investigating its life cycle, from humble beginnings to its destruction three centuries later. We were successful in doing so, and in the process found approximately 100 additional pieces of wall and floor plaster, including 60 which were painted.
Our 2011 season yielded more painted fresco fragments and a large building adjacent to the palace, perhaps a temple. In this building, the rooms were lined with carved orthostat blocks still in place, so we are calling it the “Orthostat Building.”
From 2013 to 2017 we unearthed the largest Wine Cellar in the ancient Near East. Three storage rooms yielded scores of large pithoi vessels that Organic Residue Analysis reveals once contained whites and reds spiced with honey and other ingredients. The storage rooms also appear to have functioned as a production center as different storage vessels contained wine in different stages of production.
The 2017 season also revealed that the western extent of the MB II palace was obfuscated by a Phoenician style Iron Age complex that utilized some of the large building stones of the monumental MB palace as the cornerstones of the structure. It appears as though the late Iron Age structure was built atop an MB open air courtyard.