DOTHAN (Heb. דּתַיִן ,דֹּתָן), city in the northern part of the territory of Manasseh near one of the north-south passes through the Carmel range. The author of Genesis locates the story of Joseph's sale to the *Ishmaelites-Midianites in this region (Gen. 37:17ff.). According to ii Kings 6:13ff., Dothan was a walled city and the residence of the prophet Elisha. It is mentioned again in the apocryphal book of Judith (4:6; 7:3) among the cities in the Jezreel Valley near Holofernes' camp. Eusebius places it 12 mi. (20 km.) north of Samaria-Sebaste (Onom. 76:13). It is generally identified with Tell Dothan, 3 mi. (5 km.) south of Jenin and 13 mi. (22 km.) northwest of Shechem at the head of the valley of the same name. Excavations conducted there by J.P. Free, a professor at Wheaton College, between 1953 and 1960 uncovered remains from the Bronze and Iron Ages (Canaanite and Israelite periods) – walls, administrative buildings, private houses as well as tombs, rich in finds.
In 2005 an archaeological team from Wheaton College published the first volume of a series of final reports on the excavations. Their analysis revealed occupation from the Neolithic-Mameluke periods. Among the highlights, the Free excavations uncovered several sections of a large city wall dating to the ebii and ebiii, attended by several phases of walls and platforms, including a straddling tower, as well as monumental stairway and ramp, which probably led to a gate. The excavators found additional fortifications and a patrician house from the mbiib-lbi periods. Dating from the lbii period, when the site was virtually uninhabited, some of the richest lb tombs in the region were excavated by Free's team. These family tombs lasted from lbiia-Iron i and are an important example of continuity between the Bronze and Iron Ages in the highlands. The excavators uncovered a four-room Iron i period house surrounded by a large private precinct. Dating from the Iron ii period, a massive exposure was excavated, which included seven buildings that were all variations on the four-room house. West of them a complex of buildings indicated an industrial area, showing evidence of smelting, weaving, and the production of oil and wine. In the southwest corner of the same area, the excavators uncovered a large administrative building, characterized by ashlar masonry, regular rooms grouped around a courtyard, pavements, drains, and dozens of identically sized small storage containers. These jars may have reflected the dry measure of a seah, for the purpose of redistribution. Along the western border of this area there was evidence of a typical Iron Age casemate wall. The Iron Age city underwent violent destruction, dated by radiocarbon analysis to the end of the ninth century. Some time later the tell was again used as a cemetery, after the region had been conquered by Assyria. From the Hellenistic period the fragmentary outline of a city insula was discovered, as well as a sizable collection of typical second century Rhodian stamped amphora handles. The Roman and Byzantine periods, confined to the top of the tell, contained massive architecture but few datable living surfaces. Finally, in the Mamluke period the top of the tell was reoccupied by a small farming village with typical Islamic courtyard houses.
em, 2 (1954), 772–3; Press, Ereẓ, s.v.; Aharoni, Land, index; Free, in: basor, 143 (1956), 11ff.; 152 (1958), 10ff.; 156 (1959), 22ff.; 160 (1960), 6ff. add. bibliography: D.M. Master, J.M. Monson, E.H.E. Lass, and G.A. Pierce (eds.), Dothan i: Remains from the Tell (1953–1964) (2005).
[Egon H.E. Lass and
Daniel M. Master (2nd ed.)]