The 23rd season of the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in memory of Yigael Yadin took place on June-July 2012. The staff included S. Bechar and R. Webb (Area M), D. Weinblatt-Krauz and D. Griswold (Area A6), H. Dan (surveying), O. Cohen (restoration), I. Strand (drawing and restoration), M. Cimadevilla and V. Sama-Rojo (photographing), R. Ben-Shlomo (registration) and S. Yadid (Administration). Students from South Africa, Canada, the United States and Europe participated in the excavation.
The excavations were dedicated to the exposure of the monumental structure sealed by a violent destruction layer. The plan of the structure, its architectural context and the 13th century BC dating of its final demise were established. The monumental structure is defined by a wide megalithic wall in the south, and by a stone and mudbricks wall on the north. The latter is the southern wall of the ‘Podium Complex’, which was excavated in the northern part of Area M in 1995-2001.
The structure is divided into two large spaces. The western part is further divided by a north-south oriented mudbrick wall (Fig.2). Two rows of large pithoi, 14 in number, were found in leaning on this wall. The pithoi were sealed by the fallen mudbricks and roofing fragments that collapsed into the room during the final destruction of the monumental structure. Some of the pithoi still contained large amounts of carbonized wheat seeds.
The impressive size of the monumental structure, the quality of its architecture and the nature of the finds support its interpretation as a public royal edifice. We assume that it is the royal palace of Canaanite Hazor, which was built during the Late Bronze Age (15th-14th centuries BC). The structure was destroyed in a violent conflagration in the 13th century BC, together with other public buildings on the acropolis and throughout the lower city of Hazor.
Remains of an earlier monumental staircase, probably dated to the end of the Middle Bronze Age or the very beginning of the Late Bronze Age, were uncovered below the structure. Parts of this staircase seem to have been incorporated in the later palace.
A test trench to the north of the ‘Southern Temple’ was opened in the first part of the season (Fig. 5). The aim of the excavation in this area was to uncover the earlier remains below the pebble-paved street connecting the temple and the Bronze Age walls to its north.
During the excavation, an earlier pavement attached to the ‘Southern Temple’ was found in the southern part of the trench. Layers of fills rich in ash and organic material, which probably served as make-up for the paved street, were uncovered below the pavement. The pottery characterizing these early fills is Middle Bronze Age in date. Below these fills, a level characterized by large amount of Early Bronze Age pottery represents the earliest use of the area.