AIA Lecture: “Of Canaanites and Kings: The Ongoing Excavation of a Middle Bronze Age Palace at Tel Kabri, Israel” (Eric Cline)

Speaker: Dr. Eric Cline, Professor of Classics and Anthropology, George Washington University

Excavations and survey from 2005-2017 at the site and environs of Tel Kabri, located in the western Galilee of modern Israel, have shown that the Middle Bronze Age Canaanite palace there is at least three times as large as previously thought, with much still remaining to be excavated. The palace is painted with what may be the earliest-known western art in the Eastern Mediterranean, for it is the earliest of the four known sites in Egypt and the Near East (Alalakh, Qatna, Daba, and Kabri) that have palaces decorated with frescoes painted in an Aegean manner, probably by Cycladic or Minoan artists. It also contains the oldest and largest wine cellar known from the ancient Near East – nearly 20,000 bottles in today’s terms. Highlights of the excavation seasons include the discovery of nearly 100 additional fragments of plaster, 60 of which are painted, from both a previously-unknown Aegean-style wall fresco with figural representations and a second Aegean-style painted floor; a monumental building, perhaps used for dining or feasting, with in situ orthostats; and a complex of storeroom filled with nearly 120 complete but smashed storage jars, most or all of which originally contained wine.