Tel Hazor, 2010
A. Ben-Tor, S. Zuckerman
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem
The Twenty-first season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ took place between June 20 and July 30, 2010. 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 financial assistance of the Selz Foundation (New York), the Late Reginald David Benjamin and Esme Benjamin (Perth, Western Australia) the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel), and individual donors. The excavations are conducted in the Hazor National Park and receive full cooperation from the National Parks Authority.
The expedition numbered some 35 participants, from the U.S., Canada, Europe and Israel. The main area investigated this year was Area M, directed by S. Zuckerman assisted by S. Bechar. Cleaning operations as well as restoration work were carried out in the area north of the six-chambered gate and in area M-68, under the direction of O. Cohen, assisted by I. Strand. The team also included: O. Harush (registration); D. Porotzki and S. Pirski (surveying and drafting); O. Cohen, assisted by I. Strand (restoration and preservation); S. Yadid and I. Strand (administration). The expedition was housed at Kibbutz Kfar Ha-Nassi.
Area M : Work in area M continued in the same squares excavated in previous seasons. The goals of this season were to complete the excavation of the public structures dated to the ninth century BC and, consequently, to begin uncovering the earlier strata underlying them. The remains uncovered this year belong mostly to the earliest phases of the Iron Age settlement in area M, and are dated to the ninth century BC (Fig. 1).
Following the dismantling of the remaining thin walls attributed to the domestic structures of the eighth century BC, the nature of area M in the earliest phase of the Iron Age in this part of the site was revealed. The latest features in the area are the two rounded silos - already found in 1991-2 and cleared during this season (Fig. 1). The two silos, filled with carbonized grain seeds, clearly cut into the wide walls of the earlier phase (see below) and should thus be attributed to the eighth century BC.
The whole area is divided. by seven parallel wide walls, about one meter wide each, running through the area from west to east (Fig. 1). It appears that these walls belong to two large buildings, similar in plan to the Three Halls Structures known from Yadin’s excavations and the renewed excavations in area A-2. The two buildings share a common wall with a 4 meters wide entrance in its center, and thus form one administrative complex of unparalleled size at Hazor and even elsewhere in the period. The partition walls of the two structures consisted of four rows of limestone pillars, only half of which were found in situ. The rest were reused by the builders of the domestic structures of succeeding strata in the area.
Two phases were discerned in the pillared Three Halls structures. In their original phase, plastered floors were preserved in several of the halls, and were probably also part of the others. In this original phase, these two buildings served as public storage facilities. Several pithoi and remnants of other large containers made of clay were found in building of the same plan uncovered by us in a previous season to the south of Area M. In the later phase, several dividing walls were built in between the pillars and between these and the outer walls of the structures. Several tabuns and other features were also found, indicating a later phase of change in the function of the buidings that probably served in a domestic capacity.
A contemporary feature was identified in the southernmost part of the area, outside the southern wall of the southern Three-Halls building. This area consisted of several working surfaces and installations. Noteworthy among the finds in this area were several basalt bowls and rounded potter’s wheels, in different phases of production. Some were only coarsely-made performs while others were already half-shaped but still bore marks of their production process. Many chips of basalt were found throughout this area, supporting the interpretation that it should be seen as a 9th century BC workshop of basalt objects. As such, it is the first of its kind known in Iron Age Hazor and in Israel. Among the finds in this area were also several objects related to weaving activities, such as spindle whorls and more than a dozen loom-weights found in situ in the westernmost part of the area. It is possible that both crafts were taking place in this area simultaneously.
In addition to a considerable number of restorable pottery and sherds, the main finds in Area M include two cosmetic bowls made of bone and soft stone, metal objects, beads and clay figurines.
Immediately below the walls and floors of the Three Halls buildings remains dated to the Late Bronze Age (Fig. 2). These consist of fallen and burnt mudbrick-layers, and several walls made of large and coarsely-worked limestone boulders. In the northern part of the area, part of a large structure consisting of a row of stone bases and fallen elongated stones to the south of this row was discovered. The function of this structure and the nature of this phase, as well as its relation to the Podium Complex found on a much lower level to its north, are yet to be defined.
A clay tablet, inscribed in cuneiform, dated by style and orthography to the Old Babylonian period, was discovered on the surface of the site, between areas A and M. The subject of the inscription is a code of Law. Prof. Wayne Horowitz of the Hebrew University and his team are preparing the tablet for publication.
Area M: The Three Halls structures (from east).
Area M: The Earlier remains below the northern Three Halls Structure (from east).
Restoration and conservation :
The main restoration effort this season was centered in the area north of the six-chambered gate and in area M-68.
The southern edge of both walls of the first casemate to the north of the six-chambered gate were already uncovered by Yadin’s team in the 1950’s, and re-cleared by the renewed excavations team in 1991. During this season the walls were further cleared, and a large segment of the casemate was defined.. Following the delineation of the original casemate walls these were restored to a level of 6 courses (Fig. 3).
In area M-68, the walls of the southern casemate were also cleaned and restored to a similar level.
The restoration of the casemate to the north of the six-chambered gate (from north-east)
Amnon Ben-Tor, Sharon Zuckerman,
The Hebrew University, Jerusalem