Tel Hazor, 2011


Shlomit Bechar


The twenty-second season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ took place between 20 June and 30 July, 2011. 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 financial assistance of the Selz Foundation (New York), 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. Directors of the expedition were Amnon Ben-Tor and Sharon Zuckerman. The excavation of Area M was supervised by S. Bechar, assisted by R. Webb. The team also included: A. Madvig-Struer (registration); D. Porotzki and S. Pirski (surveying and drafting); M. Cimadevilla (photography); I. Strand (restoration and drawing); and S. Yadid and I. Strand (administration). The expedition was housed at Kibbutz Kfar Ha-Nassi.


The main area of excavation in 2011 was Area M. A test square was opened in Area A3, to the north of Building 7050.


Area M:

Work in Area M concentrated in the 12 northern squares. The goals of this season were to unearth the remains of the destruction layer dated to the Late Bronze Age, below the administrative structures of the Iron Age which were exposed during the previous season. The remains uncovered this year belong to an earlier phase of the Iron Age and to the end of the Late Bronze Age. They were attributed to three stratigraphic phases.

After the removal of the northern one of the two “Three Halls Building”, dated to the 9th century BCE (see Hadashot Archaeologiyot 122, 2010), a number of pavements and installations and several pits, all dating to the Iron Age II, were uncovered. The pavements and installations were limited to the eastern squares in Area M, whereas the pits were identified throughout the entire area.

Underneath the pavements phase, three distinct architectural units which can also be dated to the early Iron Age were identified (Fig. 1).

The first Iron Age feature, located in the eastern part of the area, is a large drainage channel covered by a row of small stones. The channel continues to the south underneath the north-eastern corner of the southern Three Halls Building.

Two walls, forming a corner of a well-built structure, were uncovered below the northern outlet of the drainage channel and are sealed by it. The fragmentary nature of this structure is due to the fact that most of it lies outside the eastern border of the excavation area.

The last architectural feature is the “Masseboth Complex" located in the north-western part of the area (fig. 2). The walls of this complex are made of large and coarsely-worked limestone boulders. An east-west oriented partition wall, on top of which was laid a row of four stone bases, was uncovered in the center of the complex. Four elongated chalk stones were found fallen to the south of this wall, and were put back on their respective bases. The state of preservation of these stones was very poor, and they crumbled almost immediately after their exposure. The “Masseboth Complex” is built on top of the fallen mudbricks of the Late Bronze Age structure (see below). A neck and rim of a Cypro-phoenician juglet sealed below one of the fallen stones gives a terminus post quem for this complex, which should be dated to the Iron Age I-II

No physical connection was identified between the various architectural elements in the eastern and the western parts of Area M. It seems that the drainage channel is the latest of the three, and should probably be dated to the 9th century building activities in the area (in connection with the erection of the administrative structures). The "Masseboth Complex” and the structure sealed by the drainage channel might have been contemporary and thus earlier than the 9th century. The relationship between these features will be further explored in the next season.

The earliest phase excavated this season is the top of the destruction layer of a monumental structure dated to the Late Bronze Age. This phase was found mainly in the western part of the area, where a huge mudbrick collapse and evidence of an intensive conflagration (burnt mudbricks and charred organic material) were identified (Fig. 3). The plan of the destroyed building was partly uncovered during this season. Several monumental walls, built of huge, coarsely worked, megalithic limestones, were found in the southern part of the excavated area. These walls were preserved to a height of over two meters and were partly white plastered. A large north-south mudbrick wall was identified in the western part of the area. The plan of this monumental building, its function and its relation to the Podium Complex, found on a much lower level to its north in previous seasons, will be the goals of next season's excavation.

At the end of the season - the mudbrick walls and destruction layer of the Late Bronze Age monumental building were covered in order to protect them from the winter rains. A layer of Geo-Technic soft material was placed directly on top, and was covered by large sheets of plastic material (Figs. 4-5).


Area A3:

A test square to the north of building 7050, dated to the Late Bronze Age, was opened in the second part of the season. The aim of the excavation in this area was to uncover the earlier remains below the pebble-paved northern courtyard uncovered in previous seasons.

Layers of fills rich in ash and mudbrick material, which probably served as Make-up for the courtyard, were uncovered below the Late Bronze I pavement. Fragments of stone-built walls and pavements were found below these layers (Fig. 6). Due to the limited area of excavation, no plan of the area in this phase, dated to the end of the MBII, can be reconstructed. Excavation in the area will continue in the next season.




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