Abraham's Gate

By the Editors of the Madain Project

Bronze age mud-brick gate known as Abraham's Gate (Bab Ibrahim) due to the Biblical narrative of him traveling to Dan with his nephew Lot. It may have been the main entrance to the city, made of mud bricks on top of megalithic basalt standing stones, and estimated to have been built around 1750 BCE. The Israelite Iron Age Gate of Tel Dan is situated some 250 meters west of the this Canaanite era-gate.


Eastern most Canaanite bronze age gate at Tel Dan, is made of mud bricks on top of megalithic basalt standing stones. Dubbed as the Abraham's Gate, due to the biblical story that Abraham traveled to Dan to rescue his nephew Lot. The still-visible mud-bricks began disintegrating within a quarter-century, apparently. To prevent collapse, the locals blocked the gate with the gritty dark earth. The new gate they built somewhere else in the city has not been found.

Biblical Tradition

circa 1750 BCE

The Biblical mention of the gate is in Genesis 14:14, "And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan." Abram’s nephew Lot had been abducted by marauders (Genesis 14); and when Abram heard of it, “he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.”

Discovery and Excavations

circa 1750 BCE

The gate was uncovered in 1979 but more recently underwent restoration. The gate, which in ancient times stood seven meters tall, has been restored to its original height.

This was one of the unique findings in the Dan excavations, and soon after a special protective canopy was installed to covered it in order to prevent future damages to the ancient gate. During excavations a wooden frame was installed in the entrance of the gate to allow the interior excavations. Inside the gate three mud-brick arches in sequence, which together form the full city gate.

Architecture Details

circa 1750 BCE

1988 Drawing of the gate, it is composed of three arches and constructed of sun-dried mud brick on a foundation of large basalt stones. According to the archaeologists it is the oldest arch in the country and may have been influenced by the Syrian urban life.

circa 1750 BCE

The bronze model of the gate in front of the remains of the eighteenth century main entrance to the cty of Dan. The gate, set on sloping earth ramparts, was constructed in the second millennium BCE as a defense for the Canaanite city of Laish. The total size of the gate complex was about 15 ½ -meter-wide, 7 meter tall, 13 ½ -meter-deep. Possibly because of structural instability, the entire gateway was buried under an earthen rampart in antiquity, an action which allowed for its remarkably complete preservation.

Restoration Efforts

circa 1750 BCE

During the reconstruction of the gate, the archaeologists prepared similar bricks to fill in the missing segments. These bricks were prepared using the ancient techniques of placing the mud into a mold, then baking it in the sun. The new bricks were laid out in the gaps. A number of such bricks are seen along the front of the left wall.

circa 1750 BCE

The top of the gate, with some of the newly made sun-baked bricks in the upper left corner. The gate was restored in the late 2000s. It features two towers and a horizontal structure linking them below the arches, the oldest arches ever found in the Land of Israel.


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