site situated on the eastern bank of the Sea of Galilee, 1.6 km (about 1 mi.) north of the estuary of Naḥal Samakh, which was, and still is, the main ascent to the Golan Heights (32°53′ N, 35°24′ E; map reference 2112 × 2507). Two of the site's concentric defense walls can be seen aboveground, enclosing an area of about 2 ha (5 acres). Tel Hadar was discovered by the Golan Survey Team of 1967–1968 (site 140) and was excavated from 1987 to 1995 by the Land of Geshur Project of Tel Aviv University, under the direction of Pirhiya Beck and Moshe Kochavi; Esther Yadin was field director.
The site's final stratigraphy was established only after virgin soil was reached In 1992. The site was founded in the Late Bronze Age I (stratum VI). The inner city wall, about 2.5 m wide, was built of large basalt boulders in this stratum; the outer wall was not yet built. A round tower with a diameter of 19 m adjoining the inner wall crowned the site. The excavation of one of its rooms revealed a floor of leveled bedrock. Of the two doors that gave access to a room, one was found with its lintel in situ. The site was destroyed and deserted during the LB I. No later Bronze Age occupation was attested.
The site was resettled in the Iron Age I (stratum V), when some stone-lined silos were constructed adjacent to the inner wall amid the debris of the tower. The site's most important stratum (stratum IV), is dated to the eleventh century BCE. During that period, the southern part of the area within the inner wall was leveled, and two large public buildings were constructed on two terraces. The first, a storehouse comprised of three long, narrow halls, was built parallel to the inner city wall on the upper terrace; the second, a tripartite pillared building with a unique granary, was built perpendicular to the wall, on the lower terrace. The storehouse had solid stone walls and beaten-earth floors. Portions of its halls were used for grinding flour and similar activities. A door led to the two wings of the second building. Some of the pillars in the building on the lower terrace were monoliths; others were built of several stones (see figure 1). Its outer halls were paved, but the central one was not. There were no troughs or holes in the pillars. The granary had six rooms (3 × 3 m) connected by doors raised 0.80 m from the floor. It was completely plastered and found full of carbonized wheat grains. More than one hundred complete vessels were found in the destruction level of this building, most of them in the tripartite wing. Besides the usual eleventh-century BCE assemblage, there were three- handled storage jars, jars with handles drawn from their lip, “Phoenician” decorated flasks and jugs, bowls previously found only at Gilead, a unique model of a shrine, a juglet full of astragali, a cup-and-lamp vessel, and a Greek Proto-Geometric bowl.
Following the total destruction of stratum IV, there was a long gap in occupation at the site. When it was resettled, in strata III–I, its plan and function were entirely different. Only private buildings, dated to the ninth–eighth centuries BCE, were attested in these strata. The 4-meter-wide outer wall was the settlement's only defensive wall. The broadroom plans of most of the private buildings were uncommon for the Iron Age, and the use of pillars was restricted to stratum III. Among the finds are the Gileadite bowls, small basalt anchors, and an incised enigmatic Aramaic inscription on the shoulder of a jar: LSD'L. The site was abandoned forever at the end of stratum I.
In summary, Tel Hadar's raison d'être stemmed from its location near the Sea of Galilee and the main highway leading from Bashan to the Galilee and beyond. The site's heyday was in the eleventh century BCE, when it probably played a major role in the Kingdom of Geshur. In the ninth century BCE, after Geshur was integrated into the Kingdom of Aram-Damascus and ῾Ein-Gev was built as the main Aramean stronghold in the area, Tel Hadar became a small village inhabited by fishermen and peasants. [See ῾Ein-Gev; Arameans.] The destruction of both Aram-Damascus and Israel by Tiglath-Pileser III In 732 BCE brought an end to settlement at Tel Hadar.
- Epstein, Claire, and Shmaryahu Gutman. “The Golan.” In Judea, Samaria, and the Golan: Archaeological Survey, 1967–1968 (in Hebrew), edited by Moshe Kochavi, p. 282. Jerusalem, 1972. The first survey of the site.
- Kochavi, Moshe. “The Land of Geshur Project: Regional Archaeology of the Southern Golan, 1987–1988 Seasons.” Israel Exploration Journal 39 (1989): 1–17. Preliminary report of the first two seasons of excavation.
- Kochavi, Moshe, et al. “Rediscovered! The Land of Geshur.” Biblical Archaeology Review 18.4 (1992): 30–44, 84–85. Popular updated report of the first four seasons of excavation.
- Kochavi, Moshe. “The Land of Geshur Regional Project: Attempting a New Approach in Biblical Archaeology.” In Biblical Archaeology Today, 1990: Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Biblical Archaeology, Jerusalem, June–July 1990, edited by Avraham Biran and Joseph Aviram, pp. 725–737. Jerusalem, 1993. Lecture based on the first three excavation seasons.
- Shoval, S., et al. “Rehydroxylation of Clay Minerals and Hydration in Ancient Pottery from the ‘Land of Geshur.’” Journal of Thermal Analysis 37 (1991): 1579–1592. Fixes the temperature of the fire that destroyed Tel Hadar stratum IV to 1200°C.