The 18th Season of Excavations at Tel-Hazor
The eighteenth season of the 'Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin' was took place between June 24th and August 3rd 2007. 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 benefited 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 60 participants. In addition to the permanent staff, these included groups from the Southern Adventist University in the U.S. (led by Dr. Michael G. Hasel), Volunteers from the United States, Canada, Europe and students of archaeology from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The area supervisors were V. Avrutis (Areas A-2 and A-3); and S. Zuckerman, assisted by S. Bechar and R. Lavi. The team also included: D. Porotzki and S. Pirski (surveying and drafting); M. Cimadevilla (photography); D. Sandhouse (registration), O. Cohen, assisted by I. Strand was in charge of restoration and preservation; S. Yadid and I. Strand (administration). The expedition was housed at Kibbutz Mahanaim.
Area A-2: the aim of the excavations here this year was to complete the removal of the thick accumulation of fallen mud-bricks lying on the pebble pavement lying to the north of the palace, and to check its relationship to the palace itself.
The latest phase in the area is represented by several Iron I pits cutting the earlier pavement. The paved courtyard consisted of layers of different-sized pebbles and layers of plaster in between them. A pit containing typical vessels of the LBII represents the latest Bronze Age phase in the area. On the pavement itself were found only few sherds, figurines and small fragments of faience and bone vessels. This assemblage is earlier than the above mentioned pit. The pebble floor is cut in a straight line, about 1 meter from the northern foundation wall of the palace. This feature represents the foundation trench of the building, within which were found layers of ashes, mudbricks material, large amount of bones and pottery vessels dated to the MBIIC or LBI. Noteworthy among these finds is an inscribed liver model, attributed to the Old Babylonian period following its preliminary reading. In the eastern part of the area excavation continued below the paved courtyard. In previous seasons remains of MBII were found here. A narrow-walled building represents the latest of the two phases attributed to the Intermediate Bronze Age that were defined here. Many (some complete) pottery vessels, including “Megiddo Ware”, were found, as well as a storage jar whose rim was incorporated in the floor of the earlier phase. Similar vessels and architectural features attributed to the IB were found in the vicinity in previous seasons. Under the earliest floor were found many Early Bronze Age sherds.
Area A-3: excavations were carried out in the western, higher part of the area. Immediately below the surface appeared stone walls that were preserved to a considerable height. These walls form a part of buildings known from previous periods, whose plan can now be completed. The pottery found on the floors of these structures is attributed to a somewhat earlier phase than those found in Area M. The lower part of an Egyptian statue was incorporated, in secondary use, in one of the Iron Age walls. The inscribed statue, belongs to the type of htp-d-nsw, and its exact dating (within the Bronze Age) is currently under study.
Area M: the area that was extended towards the south last season was enlarged further to the south.
A series of buildings dated to the Persian period were excavated in the southern part of the area. The plan of the area includes an east-west oriented support wall, and several walls attached to it from the south. A square room, on whose floor were found several complete storage vessels, was incorporated into the support wall. In the courtyards of the structures, the walls of which are exceptionally massively built, were discovered installation consisting of well-dressed basalt slabs in secondary use. These finds are similar to the “farmhouses” excavated by Yadin’s team in area G during the 1950’s.
Underneath these remains (stratum II of Yadin’s team) a large paved courtyard covers the eastern part of the area. This pavement is bound by a massive wall in the east. The opening of a bell-shaped stone-walled pit, 1.80 meter deep, is incorporated in the pavement. A nicely worked basalt drainage channel, made of three parts, is built into the upper course of the pit. The function of the pit, which was not plastered, is unknown.
Underneath the upper pavement a system of walls of domestic building was exposed throughout the area. These relatively thin walls are part of domestic buildings and paved courtyards, with tabuns and other installations. At least three phases were identified, all attributed to the Iron Age on the basis of the pottery. It is noteworthy, that a clear destruction layer was identified only in the north-western square, where it was discerned already in previous seasons and attributed to the Assyrian destruction of 732 BC. Below the domestic buildings, and at places incorporated in their walls, were found at least four rows of nicely worked limestone pillars. These rows of pillars, oriented east-west, attest to the existence of at least two public administrative buildings of the group well-known at Hazor and other Israelite cities.
Restoration and conservation: Work concentrated in the reconstruction of the long wall, defining the palace courtyard from the north. The walls of the eastern façade of the palace were also treated, and the southern part of the courtyard eastern supporting wall was built in order to prevent its collapse. Into area A4 in the east. The supporting walls of the six-chambered gate were dismantled, and its southern walls were reinforced with stone walls. These works were carried out with the financial support of several foundations, among which are the Seltz and Rosen Foundations (US), the Late Reginald David Benjamin and Esme Benjamin (Perth, Western Australia), the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel).