The tenth season of excavations of the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin took place between 23 June and 4 August 1999. The excavations, sponsored by the Israel Exploration Society and the Selz Foundation, are a joint project of the Philip and Muriel Center for Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew University and Complutense University in Madrid . The project also receives financial support from the Selz Foundation in New York, the Consejería de Educación y Cultura - Comunidad de Madrid, and the Rothschild (Yad Hanadiv) Foundation. The excavations were carried out within the Hazor National Park, and benefit from the full cooperation of the National Parks Authority.
The 130 participants of the 1999 season included groups of students from Complutense University, Madrid, and from the Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid, (directed by Maria Teresa Rubiato), from the University of Umea, Sweden, from the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary of North Carolina (directed by Allen Moseley) , from Denmark (directed by A. Wiuf Christensen), from the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University, and groups of volunteers from Germany (directed by Winifred Hörst), and several other countries in Europe, the U.S. and Australia.
The Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin are directed by Amnon Ben-Tor of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University. The Hazor expedition also included A. Zarzecki-Peleg (field archaeologist) and area supervisors D. Ben-Ami, M. Cimadevilla, S. Cohen, C. Rubio, D. Sandhouse, B. Villegas and D. Zigler (area A), and S. Zuckerman (area M). Other staff members:, R. Casagrande, A. Christensen, R. Coltrane, A. Martinez, R. Mendez S. Moran, A. Prats and V. Sama Fisherman (assistant area supervisors, Area A), and B. Drake (assistant area supervisor, Area M). The excavation surveyors were R. Bonfil, I. Strand and M.-T. Rubiato. Restoration work was carried out under the supervision of D. Abu-Hazera, O. Cohen and M.-T. Rubiato. M. Shalvin, I. Shmila aided by H. Katz-Motro, were responsible for recording the finds. The excavation photographer was H. Shafir, and S. Yedid was the excavation administrator. As in previous seasons - the expedition was housed in the Gesher guest-house - on Mount Canaan, Safed.
The aims of the 1999 season of excavations in this area were:
1) To determine the extent of the Late Bronze Age palace in the east and south
(areas A-1 and A-7).
2) To connect the area excavated by Yadins expedition in 1968, with the area
investigated by the present expedition (area A-2).
3) To explore the possibility of existence of an annex to the north of the palace
4) To locate the main entrance into the palace complex, which as we suspect
should be located in the eastern extremity of the palace courtyard (Area A-4).
5) To investigate the massive mud-brick fortification wall dated to the Bronze-
Age, and determine the date of its construction and duration of usage (area
6) To uncover the monumental building ( temple?) located in the northern part
of the palace courtyard (area A-6).
7) To dig below the Late Bronze Age strata, and investigate the nature of earlier
(Middle Bronze Age?) remnants underlying them (Areas A-1 and A-2).
- Unlike the situation in other parts of the palace, which were only slightly effected by the super-imposed Iron Age strata, considerable damage was caused to the southern section of the Bronze Age palace walls by the Iron Age structures built on top of them. This damage is most severe in area A-1, and somewhat less severe in area A-6. It is not yet possible to determine whether the palace walls uncovered in those two areas are indeed the external walls of the palace, in which case the plan of the building would be symmetrical, or whether the palace extends further south, outside of the excavated area. This question will be addressed in the next season.
- The 3 meter wide balk which separated between the area excavated by Yadins expedition in 1968 and the area excavated by the present expedition (area A-2) was investigated this summer, giving us an additional opportunity to establish the sequence of Iron Age strata in this area. Remnants dating from the Bronze Age appear under the Iron Age ones: the relationship of these remains vis-a-vis those uncovered to the north and to the south of them - will be determined during the next season.
- Remnants dating from the Late Bronze age constituting of plastered floors as well as pebble floors, appeared under the Iron Age strata uncovered in Area A-3 during the previous season. Due to the limited extent of the excavated area, it is not possible to determine whether these belong to a northern annex of the palace, or to a separate building. The small finds uncovered here - a bronze "cut" figurine, pieces of jewelry (including two glass "spacers") , a fragment of an ivory box depicting the head of the goddess Hathor, and two Egyptian amulets - are identical to finds previously encountered in the adjacent palace. During the next season - the excavation will be extended westwards in order to try and uncover a more complete plan of those remains.
- More than half of the extent of the eastern wall of the palace courtyard was uncovered this season (area A-4). Here too, damage caused to the Bronze Age walls by later, Iron Age structures - was severe. There are however clear indications that the main entrance into the palace complex was indeed located here. The entrance was thoroughly destroyed, and many of its building stones were robbed in later periods. Next season we plan to uncover the eastern wall to its entire length. It is hoped that this will also lead to a further understanding of the plan of the entrance into the palace complex .
- Area A-5 is a deep and narrow probe whose purpose was to establish the location of the Bronze Age fortification wall of the acropolis. Part of this wall was already uncovered by Yadins expedition in the 1950s. We plan to investigate the strata relating to it and thus to determine the date of its construction, as well as the duration of its use. The mud-brick wall was cut by what seems to be a rather deep and wide ditch (a similar phenomenon was also observed in the wall segment uncovered by Yadins expedition) . This could be a moat dug outside of the casemate wall of Iron II. The ditch is covered by Iron III dwellings, built on top a fill in which a large number of Iron II and III sherds collected. At the very end of the season, a Bronze Age surface relating to the mud-brick wall was exposed.
- The western half of the monumental building, the corner of which was already uncovered by Yadins expedition in the 1950s, was exposed in area A-6. The walls are preserved to a height of c. 2 meters, and a recessed niche is located in the center of the western (= rear) wall. The floor is paved by pebbles, of a smaller size than those constituting the pavement of the palace courtyard. A section dug into the buildings pavement revealed an even earlier pebble floor. A deep pit, the lower part of which is lined with stones is located at the exact center of the building. The pit was identified as a favissa due to dozens of clay vessels, most of which of a cultic nature, such as votive vessels, incense burners, chalices, accompanied by bones and ash, which were recovered from it. This favissa and the recessed niche located in the center of the rear wall, seem to indicate that the building functioned as a temple. The vessels found in the favissa date the building to the transitional phase from the Middle Bronze II to the Late Bronze I, thus preceding the date of construction of the adjacent palace. However the buildings contour must have been known to the palace builders, since the pavement of the palace courtyard runs up against the temples walls, and one of the latter serves a support for a staircase leading into the courtyard. After the palace went out of use, it was deliberately filled: a massive earth fill was encountered containing mainly Early Bronze Age pottery (including many fine specimens of Khirbet Kerak Ware), and a small number of MBII - LBI sherds. In the next season we plan to uncover the rest of this building.
- A 2 m. X 2 m. probe was cut into the south-western corner of the throne room (Area A-1), in order to look for traces of an earlier palace. So far no evidence for the existence of such a structure was found, even though the probe was sunk to a depth of approximately 2 m.
The excavation below the Late Bronze age remnants in the southern part of Area A-2 revealed fragmentary walls and floors associated with Middle Bronze Age II pottery. The nature of these will be further investigated during the next season.
The aim of the excavations in Area M was to uncover the western part of the citadel and the pebble paved street associated with it, and to complete the excavation of the mud-brick fortification wall, parts of which ere already investigated during previous seasons.
- The western wall of the citadel was uncovered to its entire length. Since the paved street runs up against the outer face of this wall on the north and on the west, it seems that this wall is indeed the western wall of the citadel. The entrance into the citadel is located in this wall. The northern, western and eastern walls of the citadel have thus been determined with certainty, while the question whether the southern wall is indeed the citadels outer wall, must for the present remain open.
- The mud-brick fortification wall was investigated along its entire preserved course. It is made up of large sized bricks, different from all other bricks so far encountered at Hazor. Not only are they larger in size form the average mud-brick, but the construction method differs as well: the wall consists of several layers of bricks with no stone foundation, and small stones were placed between the rows of bricks, and - at times also between the courses.
The wall is certainly later than the destruction layer in which the citadel came to an end, together with the rest of Canaanite Hazor. Its date, however, is still problematic: no clearly datable pottery was found on the fragmentary patches of floor associated with this wall. From among the sherds that have been recovered from within the mud-bricks, six are clearly dated to Iron I, and are the latest sherds found within the wall.
The most important find in Area M this season is a small fragment of an Egyptian inscription, which is apparently a part of an Egyptian stele or statue. The date and content of this objects require further study.
Restoration and preservation:
- As in all previous seasons preservation of the mud-brick walls of the palace continued. New bricks, made out of the decayed original mud-bricks were placed in the walls in various places in order to prevent further collapse. Wooden beams were placed in the recessed door-jambs of one of the palace entrances. Originally all door-jambs of the palace (as well as other parts of the palace walls) had originally been lined with wood, which was consumed by the fire in which the building perished. The insertion of the wooden frame into the recessed door-way, prevents the jambs from further collapse and, at the same time, exhibits the original appearance of the palace door-ways.
-The main effort this year focused on the reconstruction of the tower of the late Iron Age (Yadins stratum V) located in the north-eastern summit of the acropolis. Only the foundations of the thick walls, and in some places fragments of the walls, approximately 1 m. high, were preserved.
The walls were restored to a height of approximately 3 meters, and wooden stairs and a wooden platform were installed in order to enable visitors to ascend to the tower, which offers a splendid view of the lower city, the acropolis and the excavated areas. An iron image of an armed warrior visible from afar, was placed on top of the tower; it is hoped that this will draw visitors to the site and serve as an ideal starting point for tours.