Discovery of a large dwelling in excavations conducted this year in Tel Hazor by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology verifies earlier estimates linking the earliest Israelite fortifications at the site to the 10th century B.C.E., most probably in the days of King Solomon.

It was the late Prof. Yigael Yadin of the Hebrew University who first proposed the 10th century dating for the early Israelite construction in Hazor, said Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, who is director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archaeology and who has directed the renewed excavations at Hazor since 1990.

Also verified during the fifth season of excavations this year were Yadin’s claims that 10th century Hazor was confined to the western part of the tela’s acropolis. Only in the ninth century, probably in the reign of Israelite King Ahab, was the city expanded to include the entire acropolis, with a new defensive city wall being constructed as well as several public buildings.

Hazor, located north of the sea of Galilee, was one of the most important cities of Canaan and ancient 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. It was first excavated under the direction of Prof. Yadin in the 1950’s and 1960’s; the current excavations are dedicated to his memory.

Excavation continued this season of the two large palaces from Canaanite Hazor that were discovered two years ago. Thus far, most of the western facade of the later of the two palaces, dating form the 15th-14th centuries B.C.E., has been uncovered, totalling more than thirty metres in length, as well as some twenty metres of its northern wall.

The palace walls, preserved in some places a height of more than two metres, were built of mudbrick on a stone foundation, with wooden cedar beams placed in the walls at irregular intervals. The plan of the palace, as well as many of the elements of construction, clearly show a Syrian influence on the local architecture. The palace was destroyed by fire, the intensity of which was augmented by the extensive use of timber in the walls.

Work was also done on the clearance of a monumental staircase located on the northern slope of the Hazor acropolis. Once this is totally excavated, it will provide an answer to a longstanding question as to how the upper and lower towns of Hazor were connected.

The Hazor excavations are a group project of the Philip and Muriel Berman centre for Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew University and the Complutense University in Madrid, Spain, 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. Russel Duke headed the Ambassador contingent. The project was also supported by the Rothschild Foundation, the Israel Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, and the Israel Antiquities and National Parks authorities. Some 140 in all took part in the work this year, including students and volunteers from the U.S., Europe and Israel and Bedouin and Druze workers.