Indications of two huge building complexes, most likely the palaces of the Canaanite kings of Hazor from the second millennium B.C.E. were found this year in Hebrew University of Jerusalem archaeological excavations at Tel Hazor.
Parts of what appear to be a grand entranceway were revealed in the later of the two palaces, as were the bases of two giant basalt columns flanking the entrance. This palace was destroyed sometime in the 13th century B.C.E. in a huge conflagration whose severity is evident throughout the structure.
Excavation will continue in coming seasons at the palace complexes, amid hopes that they will reveal the archives of the Canaanite kings of Hazor.
Other findings this year included remains of dwellings from the period of King Solomon (10th century B.C.E.) and a public building from the time of Israelite King Ahab (9th century B.C.E.)
Located north of the Sea of Galilee, Hazor was one of the most important cities of Canaan and Israel, occupying a strategic point on the route connecting Egypt with Babylonia and Syria. Tel Hazor, the remnant of that ancient city, is the largest, Biblical archaeological site in Israel.
Large scale excavations were carried out there in the 1950’s and 1960’s by the late Prof. Yigael Yadin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The current, renewed excavations, began in 1990 and dedicated the Prof. Yadin’s memory, are under the direction of Amnon Ben-Tor, Yigael Yadin Professor of Archaeology at the Hebrew University and the director of its Institute of Archaeology. Some 130 participants, including students and volunteers from Israel, Spain, the U.S. and Europe, participated in this year’s work.
The project also includes restoration activities, and this year a major effort was expended on restoring the monumental, Solomonic-era gate of the city. Upon completion of this work, visitors to the site will be able to enter the western sector of the city through this magnificent six chambered gate.
Other activities this season included the relocation and restoration of an Israelite dwelling, complete with a reconstructed olive press in its courtyard. The restoration work, initiated and supervised by the Hazor archaeological team, was carried out by Druze stonemasons and Ethiopian new immigrants on behalf of the National Parks Authority, with financing from the Israel Government Tourist Corp.
In the main area of excavation, the archaeological team has continued the work of uncovering buildings from the Israelite period, the most impressive of which is a large public building dating from the period of King Ahab (9th Century B.C.E.) and containing three parallel, long halls. The structure is believed to have served as a storehouse.
A second, similar structure adjacent to and contemporary with the storehouse is the “pillared house,” found by the team that dug at the site in the 1950’s. This house was recently relocated from its original place to a nearby location in order to preserve it and make it accessible to the general public. Meanwhile, excavations carried out beneath its original site have revealed remains of earlier buildings, covering four phases of construction, dating back to the period of King Solomon. This is significant in that no dwellings attributable the to days of King Solomon were previously uncovered at Hazor; only the six-chamber gate and casemate wall to the city has been assigned earlier to that period.
The Hazor excavations are a joint project of the Philip and Muriel Berman Centre for Biblical Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology, and Complutense University of Madrid, in cooperation with Ambassador College of Big-Sandy, Texas, and the Israel Exploration Society. Prof. Maria-Teresa Rubiato of Complutense University headed the Spanish team and Prof. M. P. Germano headed the Ambassador contingent. The project is also supported by the Rothschild and S. Kress foundations.