The nineteenth season of the ‘Selz
Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ took place between
June 22 and August 1, 2008. 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. Area supervisors
were R. Lavi (Area A-3) and S. Zuckerman, assisted by S. Bechar (Area M).
The team also included: D. Porotzki and S. Pirski (surveying and drafting);
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
The Excavations (fig.
Excavations took place in two areas this
season: areas A-3 and M.
The goal of the excavations here this
season was to uncover the western part of the pebble-paved courtyard
extending to the north of the palace, the eastern part of which was
uncovered in 2007. A
deep pit containing a considerable number of complete clay vessels dating
from the Iron Age III, was found in the northern part of the area.
A layer of fallen mudbricks was
encountered below the foundations of the Iron Age structures. In the
southern part of the area, these fallen bricks clearly constitute the
collapse of the northern wall of the ceremonial palace. The level on top of
which these bricks fell was well defined, and it seems that the entire area
lacks any architectural features. Several
layers of fill containing LB sherds were encountered below the fallen
mudbricks, and a thin stone wall, oriented north–south, apparently
functioned as one of several support walls to that fill. The pebble pavement
encountered in the eastern part of the area did not extend to its western
A series of walls forming parts of
structures, two packed earth floors, tabuns
and two semi-circular stone installations were encountered in the northern
part of the area. All these were covered by fallen mudbricks, although of a
different colour and texture than the bricks uncovered in the southern part
of the area. Furthermore, these walls and installations are far from the
northern wall of the palace; thus, the fallen mudbricks could not have come
from the palace walls. It therefore seems that the collapsed mudbricks
constituted the superstructure of the stone walls on which they fell.
The date of these walls and
installations remains unknown. The very few sherds found on the floors date
from the Late Bronze Age, suggesting that the walls are part of a series of
poorly constructed walls built during the last phase of LB Hazor, just
before its final destruction. Similar remnants have been found throughout
Hazor, including in the ceremonial palace and its vicinity. Another
possibility is that the entire assemblage dates from the Iron Age II, as
similar poorly constructed walls of that period are also known in other
parts of Hazor’s Upper City. In this case, the few LB sherds found here may
be the result of disturbance to the area. A
third possibility is that the assemblage belongs to squatters living on the
ruins of Hazor following its destruction, a possibility that is unlikely,
given that such a phenomenon has not been noted anywhere else at Hazor. Of
all three possibilities, it seems that the first option—that the assemblage
dates from the last phase of occupation at Hazor, shortly before its final
destruction—is most probable.
A plaster floor encountered under the
aforementioned poorly constructed walls and installations and at a level
corresponding to that of the pebble-paved floor found further east seems to
belong to the same LB I courtyard. This issue, however, requires further
investigation, which will be carried out in the 2009 season.
The entire area was dotted by Iron I
pits, which were very difficult to discern during excavations and which
contained a meagre amount of pottery.
Area M (fig.
Work in area M continued in the squares
that were opened last year. The remains uncovered this year belong mostly to
the last phases of the Iron Age settlement during the eighth century BCE.
All the structures are domestic in
nature, characterised by thin walls, several installations and tabuns.
Three major phases and several sub-phases were identified (consisting of
floor raising, the sealing of entryways and the erection of new
installations in the various rooms and courtyards). This is a residential
area, including several domestic units and small alleys separating them.
This year, the area connecting these
remains to those excavated in area M in 1990–1993 was cleared; all these
remains now form part of the same residential complex. A noteworthy
architectural feature of this period is the secondary use of limestone
pillars and other architectural features, which most probably originated in
the underlying, ninth century BCE, administrative structures in the area.
In the centre of area M, excavation
continued around the bell-shaped stone-walled pit exposed last season, which
was free standing in an open space in the centre of the aforementioned
residential complex. Apparently, this pit, whose function remains unknown,
had an earlier phase when it was incorporated in an eighth-century wall. The
area around the pit was filled with layers of greyish material, rich in
bones (mainly fish bones), small pottery sherds and iron objects.
The excavation this year showed that the
evidence of destruction, attributed to the Assyrian campaign of 732 BCE, is
limited to the north-western corner of the area. The other structures were
abandoned with no sign of violent destruction.
Two rows of worked limestone pillars,
oriented west–east, were further excavated this season. On the basis of
their location and relation to one another, it appears that they belong to
an early (probably ninth-century BCE) administrative structure, which was
sealed and reused by the later domestic buildings. The pillars of the
northern row are tilted northward, perhaps the result of seismic activity.
In the final week of the season, the top of a wall—possibly the northern
external wall of the structure—was exposed. This possibility will be further
investigated in the 2009 season.
The main finds attributed to the Iron
Age phases in the area are pottery sherds and some restorable vessels. In
addition, several clay figurines, iron and bronze objects and a fragment of
a glass bottle were found.
Restoration and Conservation
The western unit of the ceremonial
palace (the ‘Bathroom’), the southern unit and the northern section of the
palace façade were treated this year.
Two layers of mudbricks were placed on
the outer (western) wall of the western unit, in order to prevent entrance
or exit into the palace through that room. The protective earth fill placed
several years ago on the floor of the room was removed, and the floor and
the installation built against the southern wall of the room were treated.
The northern wall of the installation—whose function remains unclear—was
In the southern unit, the only one that
suffered considerable damage from the Iron Age building activity, the inner
face of the southern (outer) wall, was slightly restored. The passageway
between the western and eastern rooms of the unit was rebuilt with bricks.
Both door jambs of the main entrance to
the building were strengthened by placing retaining mudbricks on their inner
side. The northern section of the façade, which tilts dangerously outwards
(to the east), was supported by the insertion of bricks and mortar into the
crevices. This procedure needs to be completed in 2009.
These works were carried out with the
financial support of several foundations, including the Antiqua Foundation
(Geneva, Switzerland), the Rosen Foundation (N.Y.), the Late Reginald David
Benjamin and Esme Benjamin (Perth, Western Australia), and the Edith and
Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel).
AND SHARON ZUCKERMAN