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Tel Dan Nature Reserve
Of the three sources of the Jordan, the Dan is the largest and most significant. Its springs provide up to 238 million cubic meters of water annually, providing half of the water flowing into the Jordan River.
The springs are fed by the snow and rain which fall on Mt. Hermon and the Galilee. The water seeps into the mountain, dividing into hundreds of springs by the time it reaches the foothills. Together these springs form the largest karstic spring in the Middle East.
The tiny Tel Dan Reserve covers only about 120 acres, but due to its location and unique environmental conditions, the reserve contains flora and fauna and indigenous bio-systems.
Evidence of some 7000 years show that people chose the small hill above the springs as the spot to make their homes.
In 1966 a team led by Prof. Abraham Biran began to excavate Tel Dan. The impressive findings included sections of imposing walls and gates, as well as a ritual site which dates to the time of dramatic events recounted in the Bible A major finding was the uncovering of a complete mud-brick city gate dating from the Middle Bronze Age. The most remarkable element of this gate is the three intact arches, the earliest complete arches found in the world.
A city was first built here during the early Canaanite period and in the eighteenth century BCE tremendous ramparts surrounded the city protecting it for centuries. This is the city of Lachish, which members of the tribe of Dan captured for their homeland. Important remains were discovered in a Mycenaean grave from the late Canaanite period.
Another exemplary find from Tel Dan is a part of a stone table from the second half of the ninth century BCE Carved onto it is an inscription of Hazael, King of Damascus, boasted of his victory over the King of Israel and King of the House of David. This is the first time that the name "House of David" was discovered outside of the Bible
Other impressive finds are sacrificial platforms from the monarchy period where a large stone altar once stood.