Amnon Ben-Tor, Sharon Zuckerman and Shlomit Bechar
The 25th season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin (License No. G-17/2014) took place during the months of June–July 2014. The excavations are sponsored by the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Israel Exploration Society. The 2014 expedition benefited from the financial assistance of the Selz Foundation (New York), the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel), and individual donors. The excavations were directed by A. Ben-Tor and S. Zuckerman, who were assisted by S. Bechar (Area M4 north and south supervisor), Netanel Paz (Area M3 supervisor) and D. Weinblatt (Area A-9); as well as M. Bekker (registration), I. Strand (surveying and drafting), M. Cimadevilla (field photography), I. Strand and O. Cohen (restoration), and S. Yadid and Y. Nemanov (administration). The expedition numbered some 30 participants from Canada, South Africa, the U.S., Europe, New Zealand and Israel. The excavations are conducted in the Tel Hazor National Park with the full cooperation of the National Parks Authority. The expedition was housed at Kibbutz Gonen.
The main area of excavation was Area M, which was divided into three sub areas. Area M3 is the extension westwards of the excavation from wall W.13-515 of the 9th century BCE pillared building all the way to Area M68 (the casemate wall); Area M4 south extends eastwards from wall W.13-515 all the way to Areas M1 and M2 (which were excavated in previous seasons to the east); In Area M4 north, following the removal of the solid fortification wall dated to the 9th century BCE, the wide mud-brick wall underlying it was exposed.
Four levels dating to the Iron Age and a fifth level represented by the top of the Late Bronze Age destruction were exposed.
The three main levels represent the development of the area from an open public area (phase III) to a residential area (phase I, at least in the south).
In the north-western corner of the area, )near the casemate wall(, collapsed mud-bricks and a layer of ash were uncovered. It seems this is the top of the Late Bronze Age destruction level.
An installation made of two walls perpendicular to each other, are ascribed to this phase. The 10th century BCE casemate wall seals one of these walls. The few sherds found in relation to this installation were dated to the Iron Age. Although these are not sufficient to give an exact date to these remains, the fact that the casemate wall seals this installation may suggest that the installation should be dated to the Iron Age I (strata XII/XI in Hazor’s stratigraphic scheme).
A large piazza, extending to the west of the building in Area M4, is attributed to this phase. The earliest floor, found in a limited area, is made of plaster. Above it a packed earth floor was uncovered, followed by a thick plaster and pebbles floor (Fig. 2). This floor was uncovered already during the 1994 season and was identified then as part of a glacis since it abutted the casemate wall dated to the 10th century BCE. The excavations this season showed that this identification was wrong, since the plaster floor also abuts buildings inside the city and therefore can be interpreted as an open piazza. It is dated to the earliest phase of the 8th century BCE.
Two terrace walls built of large field stones are attributed to this phase. These walls were built during the 8th century BCE, probably in order to enable the building of residential structures on the northern slopes of the tel. A floor on top of it a limestone basin, a fragment of a basalt bowl and remnants of two tabuns were found (Fig. 3) indicating that this area probably served for processing and cooking of food.
A residential structure was built in the southern part of the area, though only one of its rooms was uncovered. A pebble made pavement was laid in this room (Fig. 4), later covered by a packed earth floor. A number of vessels, including storage jars, a cooking pot and a juglet, were found on this floor (Fig. 5). The floor is dated to the end of the 8th century BCE. A staircase built against the northern wall of this room most probably led to a second story.
Area M4 North
During the 2013 season the solid fortification wall, dated to the 9th century BCE, was uncovered (Ben-Tor and Zuckerman 2014, IES 126).
Following the removal of part of the solid fortification wall, a wide mud-brick wall (2.5 to 3 meters wide) was exposed. It was preserved to a height of five courses (0.5 – 1 meters high), and has no stone foundations. The wall is made of mud-bricks and rows of small pebbles placed between them, in uneven distances. The wall is built directly on top of the remains of the Late Bronze Age destruction layer (Fig. 6). A 20 cm thick fill was placed between the mud-brick wall and the solid fortification wall, perhaps as a constructive fill prior to building the solid wall.
The date of the mud-brick wall and its function will hopefully be clarified once it will be possible to uncover floors to the south of the wall. This could not be done during the 2014 season since at present the area to the south of the wall was exposed in a very limited extent (about 0.5 meters).
The possibility that the mud-brick wall was not free standing at all, but rather served as a foundation for the solid wall – the course of which it follows directly – should be borne in mind.
Area M4 South
Three phases dated to the Iron Age were exposed in this area. The earliest is dated to the 9th century BCE and the later ones to the 8th century BCE, and are an exact extension of those determined in previous seasons in Areas M1 and M2.
The earliest phase is dated to the 9th century BCE. Several monolithic stone pillars belonging to the store-house, most of its eastern part already exposed in previous seasons. The floor of the building was not yet uncovered.
Two main phases can be attributed to the 8th century BCE. The earlier one was exposed only in a very limited area. In contrast to the public nature of the area during the 9th century, in the 8th century the area becomes domestic. The walls and monolithic stone pillar bases were re-used by the 8th century builders and were incorporated into the walls of the residential buildings.
A number of rooms of a residential building, partly exposed already in previous seasons in areas M1 and M2 were uncovered (Fig. 7).
The later phase dated to the 8th century BCE is represented by a residential building comprised of five rooms with openings between them. The mud-brick walls of this building were built against the monolith stone pillars of the 9th century store-house while in the east, in areas M1 and M2 the builders incorporated the pillars in the mudbrick walls.
This phase can be divided to two sub-phases. In the earlier sub-phase a mudbrick wall was built, with two openings which are defined by monolithic limestones, in the center of the house. The main room of the building has an entrance to all other rooms of this house (four entrances), whereas the other rooms have only an opening to this main room. The floor of the central room was made of packed earth on which a large concentration of sherds was found.
A packed floor was found in the south-western room, on top of which lay several artifacts including two cosmetic bowls, an iron sickle blade and a juglet. A stone roof roller was found in the north-western room, leaning against a mud-brick wall dividing between this room and the south-western room (Fig. 9) A round installation was unearthed in the north-western corner of this room, inside which dozens of unbaked clay loom weights were found. Most of these loom weights crumbled during their removal from the area (Fig. 10). Several restorable clay vessels were also found here.
The later sub-phase constitutes mainly the raising of floor levels and few internal changes within the house. The openings in the mud-brick wall were blocked (Figs. 7 and 8); two courses of mudbricks were laid on top, and above them – several courses of stone. A similar phenomenon was noted in the mud-brick walls of the southern rooms, where stone courses were laid on top of the mud-brick walls. Though this custom of placing stones above mudbricks is rare, it was also identified in Area M1, excavated in previous seasons.
A round installation built of mud-bricks was found in the south-eastern room, filled with burnt grains and organic material (Fig. 11).