Tel Hazor, 2009
The twentieth season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ took place between June 21 and July 31, 2009. 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 expedition benefitted from the assistance of the Antiqua Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland), the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund, the Late Reginald David Benjamin and Esme Benjamin of Perth, Western Australia, and other individual donors. The excavations are conducted in the Hazor National Park and receive full cooperation from the National Parks Authority.
The expedition numbered some 40 participants, from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel. The excavation of Area M was directed by S. Zuckerman, assisted by S. Bechar. The team also included: D. Porotzki and S. Pirski (surveying and drafting); A. Pattshuro (surveying of Areas A-2 and A-6); M. Cimadevilla (photography); O. Harosch (registration); O. Cohen, assisted by I. Strand (restoration and preservation); S. Yadid and I. Strand (administration). The expedition was housed at Kibbutz Kfar Ha-Nassi.
The main area investigated this year was Area M, with small-scale excavations, as well as restoration work, carried out in Areas A2 and A6.
Work in this area continued in the same squares that were excavated in 2008. The goals of this season were to complete the excavation of the domestic structures dated to the eighth century BC and consequently, to begin to uncover the earlier Iron Age remains, the existence of which is marked by the limestone pillars found throughout the area in secondary use.
The remains uncovered this year belong mostly to the middle and early phases of the Iron Age settlement of the site and are dated to the eighth century BCE . All the structures are domestic in nature. They are characterised by relatively thin walls, usually less than 50 cm. in width, built of small fieldstones. Several installations, tabuns and basalt grinding utensils were found in the various units. The plan of the area is similar to that of later phases, including several domestic structures and small alleys separating them. At least one more phase of these small structures was defined this year.
The earliest phase of this domestic quarter uncovered thus far is different than its succeeding phases. During this phase the area consists of three or four large domestic structures, each with one or more tabuns in its corner. The structures of this early phase are well built, with walls reaching over 60 cm. in width. The main feature forming the centre of all later phases in the area, namely, the round bell-shaped stone-lined pit, does not exist in this phase, and the whole area is built up. This phase marks the initial phase of a long process of development, noticed already by the Yadin expedition. The eighth century witnessed a gradual process of decline in the quality and internal arrangements of domestic structures throughout the city. Houses of the later part of the eighth century tend to be smaller and closer to one another, and former public areas are rebuilt and make room for domestic units and residences. This sequence of overall gradual decline precedes the final destruction of the site in 732 BCE.
This season we also carried out a small project, in an effort to identify processes that a house in an urban site undergoes before, during and after its abandonment. For this purpose, we divided one room into 17 squares of 1 × 1 m., each subdivided into four sub-squares and excavated 5–10 cm. at a time. All the dirt from these sub-squares was either wet sieved, dry sieved or sent to flotation. A rich and diverse assemblage of mammal and fish bones, as well as shells and flint artefacts, was identified.
One wide wall, built with a mudbrick superstructure on a stone foundation, was uncovered in the final week of this season. This wall, 1 m. wide and 15 m. long, oriented east–west, is the first of its kind in the area. It must have belonged to a large public structure. The two central rows of worked limestone pillars are parallel to this wall, and most probably form the inner partition walls of an administrative structure. This assumption will be further checked in the next season.
The main finds attributed to the Iron Age phases in the area are pottery sherds and some complete and restorable vessels. In addition, several scarabs and seals, three Egyptianised beads made of faience, zoomorphic and anthropomorphic clay figurines, iron and bronze objects and an incised bone lid were found.
This area is located between the northern and southern temples, as well as to the west of the latter—between it and the courtyard of the Canaanite ceremonial palace. The area between the two temples was partially excavated in the 1950s by Yadin’s expedition, which removed the upper layers, dated to the Iron Age. This year, the area between the two temples was excavated down to the paved street dated to the Late Bronze Age I. It transpires that in contrast to what we had previously concluded, the nicely-cut ashlar stones placed on top of the northern and western walls of the southern palace belong not to the original phase of the building, but to a later phase: the temple went out of use sometime in the fifteenth century BCE, but its walls, which were preserved to a considerable height, served as foundations for the walls of a later building (a temple???) of which only the foundations and floor survived. The ashlar stones were placed on the walls of the building only in the Late Bronze Age II (the fourteenth century BCE), when the entire area was reorganized and the ceremonial palace constructed. At the same time, the raised platform located in the centre of the palace’s courtyard was erected, partially built of the same kind of ashlar stones.
A channel, draining the large courtyard east of the ceremonial palace, was excavated in three phases. Its eastern end, cleared by Yadin’s expedition, led the run-off water into a subterranean reservoir (L.357), also cleared during the 1950s. The western part of that channel was cleared by the renewed excavations in the 1990s. Finally, the northern part of the same channel, which encircles the western and northern walls of the southern temple was cleared by us during the 2009 season (fig. 1).
The channel is higher that the level of the paved street located between the two temples. Thus, the dating of this channel to the fourteenth century, suggested by Yadin’s expedition in the 1950s, is confirmed.
Restoration and Conservation
The main restoration effort this season focused on the southern temple in Area A-6. The north-eastern corner of this building was already excavated by Yadin’s expedition in the 1950s, while most of the building was cleared by the renewed excavations during the 1990s. As early as the 1950s it became clear that the western and southern parts of the building were in a much better state of preservation than the eastern part, especially its north-eastern corner, which was preserved to a level lower than the pebble floor of the building. As a result of the winter rains, parts of the floor in that corner were washed away every year. This year, the walls in the north-eastern corner were restored to a level slightly higher than the floor of the building. Consolidation work was carried out in the favissa located in the centre of the temple and in a test pit located next to the southern wall of the building cut by us in previous years in order to determine the history of the building.
Parts of the eastern façade of the palace—which were leaning out in a dangerous angle—were dismantled and rebuilt. Consolidation work was carried out in the two complexes of masseboth—in Areas A-1 and A-4 .