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Tel Hazor – 2017

 

Preliminary Report

Shlomit Bechar and Amnon Ben-Tor

 

The 28th season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin (License No. G-26/2017) took place during the months of June–July 2017. 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 2016 expedition benefited from the financial assistance of the Selz Foundation (New York), the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel), Steven B. Dana Archaeology Fund and individual donors. The excavations weredirected by A. Ben-Tor and S. Bechar (who was also the Area M3 supervisor) assisted by S. Greenberg (Area M3 assistant supervisor); as well as N. Terchov (registration), I. Strand (surveying and drafting), M. Cimadevilla (field photography), I. Strand and O. Cohen (restoration), Y. Sfez (wet sieving and picking) and S. Yadid and E. Hoffman (administration). The expedition numbered some 50 participants from Canada, South Africa, the U.S., Europe, Australia 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 M3, which is the extension westwards of the excavations conducted in previous seasons (Fig. 1).

Figure 1: Aerial view of Area M3 at the end of the excavation season

Figure 2: The entrance to the palace, looking south. Notice the basalt stair, not set exactly in the entrance of the hall. Also, notice the four installations on both sides of the entrance

Area M3

The aim of this season was to unearth the floors of the administrative palace and the courtyard which spans to the north of it, while connecting to these layers which were previously exposed in areas M1 and M2 (to the north and east).

The following will describe both stratigraphic phases exposed in 2017, beginning in the two earlier ones, dating to the Late Bronze Age, followed by the later phase, dated to the Iron II.

 

Late Bronze Age

This is the main excavated level this season which mainly includes the destruction level of the administrative palace. The finds dating to the Late Bronze Age can be divided into two sub-phases:

 

The construction phase

In this phase the administrative palace was built. The large courtyard and the monumental staircase leading to the entrance of the palace (not yet fully uncovered) could also be attributed to this phase. At the end of the excavation season a basalt staircase was exposed. This stair was also used as a threshold to the entrance hall of the palace (Fig. 2). It is much wider than the basalt stairs exposed in the podium complex to the north-east in the 1990’s (Area M1). The stair exposed this year was made of two basalt slabs, its dimensions do not fit the entrance to the building exactly, but this might have been due to the location of the base of the staircase, which is yet unknown.

This phase includes the monumental walls of the building as well as the northern walls, which were the northern limits of the courtyard extending to the north of the building. Two halls are known from this phase:

The entrance hall: is defined by walls W.3381, W16-307, W16-305, W16-302 and W13-318. The entrance to this hall was from the north, by the monumental staircase (see above). All walls of this hall, apart from the eastern wall W13-318 and W.3381 in the north, were lines with a layer of light plaster. The entrance to this hall and the exit from it to the southern hall, are not fixed on the same axis.

The southern hall: is defined by walls W10-307, W11-309, W16-302 and W15-314. It is possible that the mudbrick wall W11-302 was also built in this phase, but it might be a later addition and thus attributed to the next phase.

 

 

The northern courtyard: this courtyard is known so far only from its excavation in area M1, to the north and east. It was built during the first phase of the palace. Though this courtyard was not exposed in 2017, in the destruction layer above it, a concentration of large stones was found in the west, its function yet unclear.

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