Tel el-Waqas (Tel el-Qedah), the site of the ancient Canaanite and Israelite city of Hazor, is one of the largest and most intensively investigated tells in the southern Levant. It is located in the southwestern corner of the Hula Valley, at the foothills of the Upper Galilee mountain range. The site, comprising an upper tell of ca. 25 acres (10 ha or 100 dunams) and to its north the 173 acre (70 ha or 700 dunam) lower city, controls the main route of the ancient road, a branch of the Via Maris. The third- and second-millennia B.C.E. settlements in the valley are concentrated along this route and its subsidiary branches, which lead east through the Golan Heights and north through the Bekáa Valley in Lebanon. In the second millennium B.C.E., it served as a major international highway. This strategic location, together with accessible fertile lands and variable resources, were likely the main factors that stimulated the initial settlement of the site in the third millennium B.C.E. These same environmental conditions undoubtedly contributed to its continuous occupation through dynamic historical and political situations in the second and most of the first millennia B.C.E.

Hazor was first explored by John Garstang on behalf of the British Mandate Department of Antiquities. During the 1950s, an expedition led by Yigael Yadin of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem conducted large-scale excavations on the upper tell and in several areas in the lower city. Renewed excavations, directed by Amnon Ben-Tor under the auspices of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, began in 1990 and continued into the twenty-first century. These excavations concentrated on the upper city, Area A in the central part of the tell, and Area M on the northern slope facing the lower city. A small-scale excavation, directed by Sharon Zuckerman, was conducted in Area S in the center of the lower city.

Historical Sources.

Hazor is mentioned in historical records ranging from the nineteenth to the first centuries B.C.E. The earliest reference to Hazor appears in the nineteenth-century B.C.E. Brussels Group of the Execration Texts. In these texts, used as magical devices by the pharaohs of the Twelfth Dynasty, Hazor and its ruler are mentioned, together with other sites in the southern Levant, as enemies of the Egyptian throne. No contemporary remains of the Middle Bronze Age IIA (or Middle Bronze I) are known at Hazor; the reference in the Execration Texts thus reflects an earlier, third-millennium B.C.E. reality.

In the eighteenth century B.C.E., Hazor was the only site in the southern Levant to be mentioned in the state archive of Mari, on the Euphrates. In letters from the time of Zimri-Lim, Hazor and its king, Ibni-Addu, are mentioned as trading partners of the Mariote court and as active participants in the thriving commercial and political network of west Semitic kingdoms. Of the 18 cuneiform tablets found at Hazor, 11 date to the Old Babylonian period. They include letters (one mentions goods sent to Mari and another refers to King Ibni-…), a court record, a mathematical tablet, three liver models used for extispicy, and administrative tablets. A fragment of a law code, in the genre of the Babylonian laws of Hammurabi (r. 1792–1750 B.C.E.), further highlights the central role played by Hazor in its ancient Near Eastern context during the eighteenth and early seventeenth centuries B.C.E.


Statue of enthroned king, fifteenth–thirteenth centuries B.C.E. Kim Walton, courtesy of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

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Later in the second millennium B.C.E. Hazor is mentioned in annals and topographical lists of the New Kingdom pharaohs Thutmose III (r. 1504–1452 B.C.E.) and Amenhotep II (r. 1450–1425 B.C.E.). Four letters mentioning Hazor/Ha-su-ra were preserved in the fourteenth-century B.C.E. Amarna archive. Two of these (EA 227 and 228) were sent from the city’s ruler (in one, Abdi-Tirshi) to his Egyptian overlord and reflect the political status of the kingdom during that period. The two other letters (EA 148 and 364), sent by the rulers of Tyre and Ashtarot, respectively, refer to the acts of the ruler of Hazor. These letters, in which the ruler of Hazor refers to himself, and is referred to by his peers, as “king” rather than “governor,” highlight the special status of the city and its ruler within the city-state system of the southern Levant.

Later Egyptian references to Hazor are more controversial. A reference to “Hazor and its river” in Papyrus Anastasi I offers less conclusive evidence for Hazor as a functioning city in the days of Ramses II (r. 1290–1224 B.C.E.). A fragment of an Egyptian stone offering table, found in the destruction level of the Podium Complex in Area M, was attributed to a high-ranking vizier serving under Ramses II and dated to 1260–1230 B.C.E. Hazor was thus a thriving city until at least the second quarter of the thirteenth century B.C.E., when it was violently destroyed and abandoned.

The next references to Hazor appear in the Bible. The earliest is Joshua 11:1–13, in which Jabin, king of Hazor, is mentioned as the leader of a northern Canaanite league and the destruction of Hazor by Joshua and the Israelite tribes is vividly described. A different narrative about this destruction appears in the prose version of Deborah’s wars (Judg 4—5). 1 Kings 9:15 mentions King Solomon’s incorporation of Hazor, together with Jerusalem, Megiddo, and Gezer, as major centers of the United Monarchy, through his royal building activities. The final biblical reference to Hazor, in 2 Kings 15:29, describes its fall to the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III (r. 745–727 B.C.E.) and the transfer of its inhabitants to Assyria. The latest written references to Hazor are dated to the first century B.C.E. In 1 Maccabees 11:67 the “plain of Hazor” is mentioned in the context of Jonathan’s campaign against Demetrius. Josephus’s Antiquity 5.199 refers to the location of Hazor. In neither case is there a reference to the existence of an actual settlement.

Hazor: Comparative Table of Strata, Periods, and Related Finds

Stratum (Upper Tell) Stratum

(Lower City)
Archaeological Period Absolute Dates (B.C.E.) Archaeological Remains Historical References
XXI Early Bronze Age II–III Twenty-eighth century Residential units
XX–XIX Early Bronze Age III Twenty-seventh–twenty-fourth

Residential units and monumental structure on acropolis (?)
XVIII Middle Bronze Age Twenty-second–twenty-first centuries Residential units on acropolis
Pre-XVII Middle Bronze Age IIA–B Eighteenth century Burials and structures on the upper tell Egyptian Execration Texts
XVII 4 Middle Bronze Age IIB Eighteenth–seventeenth centuries Erection of the earthen rampart of the lower city? Mari Archive
XVI 3 Middle Bronze Age IIB Seventeenth–sixteenth centuries Both upper and lower cities are inhabited, public structures and domestic quarters
XV 2 Late Bronze Age I Fifteenth century Annals of New Kingdom Pharaohs
XIV 1B Late Bronze Age II Fourteenth century Amarna Archive
XIII 1A Late Bronze Age II Thirteenth century Papyrus Anastasi I
XII/XI Iron Age I Eleventh century Pits and meager architecture

Iron Age IIA Mid-tenth–early ninth centuries Six-chambered gate, casemate wall, domestic structures United Monarchy


Iron Age IIA–B Ninth century Casemate wall still used, administrative structures and domestic units Kingdom of Israel (Omride dynasty)

Iron Age IIC Eighth century Casemate wall still used, administrative structures and domestic units Kingdom of Israel: Jeroboam II–Pekah

Assyrian destruction by Tiglath-pileser III
IV Iron Age IIC Eighth century Sporadic settlement Post-Assyrian destruction, Israelite (?) settlement
III Assyrian Seventh century Governmental structures on and around the tell
II Persian period Fifth–fourth centuries Citadel, tombs
I Hellenistic period Third–first centuries Citadel

Hazor through the Ages.

Hazor has one of the longest sequences of settlement in the southern Levant, having witnessed almost continuous settlement from the middle of the third millennium B.C.E. (Early Bronze Age III) until the late first millennium B.C.E. (Hellenistic period). Throughout this period of time, the site underwent various trajectories of growth and decline, which are evident in the material remains of each period.

The Early Bronze Age III (2800–2250 B.C.E.): strata XXI–XIX.

The earliest settlement attested to on the upper tell dates to the first half of the third millennium B.C.E. In the Early Bronze Age III, the first urban period in the southern Levant, Hazor was initially founded as a small settlement in the center of the upper tell, characterized by small residential structures and domestic assemblages. The Early Bronze Age–III remains unearthed by the renewed excavations hint at significant changes in the nature of the site. Monumental walls in the southeastern part of Area A, the center of the acropolis, were first constructed and used at this time. Their massive foundations, incorporating large basalt orthostats in secondary use, reflect the full-fledged urban nature of Early-Bronze Hazor. The large corpus of locally made Khirbet Kerak ware, found in various contexts throughout the upper city, further supports this observation. This unique ware, characterized by its distinct technology, shapes, and colors, was probably manufactured by newcomers arriving in the southern Levant from northeastern regions of Eurasia. Hazor, together with other sites in northern Israel, was a major production and distribution center of Khirbet Kerak ware, whose products were traded as far south as the Shephelah. The production of Khirbet Kerak ware from clays different from those of the local pottery sheds light on the intricate, sometimes conflicting social relations within the large cities of the period.

Despite the small exposure of Early Bronze–Age remains, Hazor can be reconstructed as a major urban center, holding a central place in the city-state system of northern Israel during much of the third millennium. The fate of this Early Bronze–Age city and whether it was destroyed or abandoned are unknown as no materials securely dated to its final phase were excavated.

The Middle Bronze Age I (2250–1950 B.C.E.): stratum XVIII.

Meager remains of the following period, the Middle Bronze Age I, were unearthed on the acropolis, in several cases atop the monumental walls of the Early Bronze Age. This new settlement, attributed to the last quarter of the third millennium B.C.E., was rural in nature and consisted of several domestic units, various installations, and large jars used for storage. There was a diverse assemblage of local pottery types as well as hundreds of sherds and vessels belonging to “black wheel-made ware” (also known as “Megiddo ware”). This ware, characterized by its shapes (mainly drinking and pouring vessels) and its conspicuous decoration (white lines on a dark clay body), is considered one of the hallmarks of the Middle Bronze Age I. Contrary to previous interpretations, which traced the origins of this ware to the Syrian sphere, subsequent typological and petrographic analyses point to local manufacture. The rich corpus at Hazor suggests that the site continued to serve as a center of production and distribution of specialized vessels, albeit on a much smaller scale than in the preceding period. The origin and identity of Hazor’s inhabitants and their connections with their Early Bronze–Age predecessors cannot be determined, but their relations with contemporary Syrian palatial polities and their elite consumption habits are noteworthy.

The Middle Bronze Age II (1950–1550 B.C.E.): strata XVII–XVI (=4 and 3 in the lower city).

A new chapter in the history of Hazor began in the second millennium B.C.E., at the onset of the Middle Bronze Age II. For the first time, the settlement was enlarged beyond the upper tell, and the vast lower city was included in the urban area. The two principal strata were attributed to the Middle Bronze Age IIB. A large burial cave, consisting of hundreds of vessels and other types of funerary gifts, is attributed to the transitional Middle Bronze IIA–B period and represents somewhat earlier activity on the upper tell.

Throughout the Middle Bronze Age II, Hazor served as a political and economic hub, a thriving, densely occupied urban center represented by monumental royal edifices and cultic structures erected in both parts of the city. On the acropolis, the eastern part of a monumental multiroomed structure, a royal palace that originally covered a large area in the center of the acropolis, was unearthed by the renewed excavations. The corner of this edifice was built simultaneously with the corner of another monumental structure, the Southern Temple, which belongs to the group of monumental symmetrical temples (also known as “Migdol” temples) whose origins can be traced back to the Syrian cultural sphere. A deep, round favissa (underground reservoir in or near a temple for the discard of sacred objects no longer in use) containing dozens of cultic pottery vessels and a large quantity of animal bones, dug into the center of this royal temple, reflects intensive ritual activity. A contemporary open-air cultic precinct, consisting of several rooms and open courtyards, was uncovered in the southeastern part of the acropolis. Most conspicuous are the rows of unworked, plain, standing stones (massebot), arranged in pairs and facing west. A large, round stone basin was found in the western part of the precinct. Evidence for cultic activity is provided by the large quantities of animal bones strewn around the precinct and the three metal figurines of naked goddesses. A huge complex of subterranean halls, partially uncovered in the northeastern part of Area A on the acropolis, probably served as a central storage facility for agricultural products. The acropolis of Hazor was undoubtedly a major hub of political, economic, and religious activity during the Middle Bronze IIB, the time of King Ibni-Addu, mentioned in the Mari correspondence.

The lower city, enclosed by the huge earthen rampart erected in the beginning of the period, was densely settled in the Middle Bronze II, with an estimated population of ca. 15,000. Yadin’s excavations uncovered the gates of the city (Areas K and P), cultic structures (Area H and probably Area F), public installations (such as the tunnels in Area F), and domestic structures (Areas C and S [=A1/210] of Yadin’s excavations). The three-piered “Syrian” gates are incorporated in the eastern rampart, in strategic locations controlling the road. The lower city’s main temple, the monumental Orthostat Temple in Area H, was erected against the inner face of the northern rampart, with its entrance directed toward the south, facing the central cultic precinct of the upper city (Yadin and Geva, 1989, pp. 215–223, plan XXXVII). This temple served as a focal point of ritual from this phase until the demise of the lower city in the Late Bronze Age. In plan and construction details, it belongs to the Syrian-derived group of “symmetrical monumental temples,” attesting to the profound influence of Syrian culture on the edifices of Hazor’s ruling elites in their newly constructed metropolis. The partially preserved monumental structure in Area F, reconstructed by Yadin as a “double temple” and compared to the Shamash and Sin Temples at Assur, may also represent Syro–Mesopotamian traditions (Yadin and Geva, 1989, plan XXVIII; Yadin, 1972, pp. 96–98).

Parts of domestic quarters, featuring tightly knit groups of large courtyard houses, were excavated in Areas C and S. These structures revealed traces of domestic daily activities, including grinding grains, cooking, food consumption, small-scale storage of agricultural products in storage jars and large pithoi, and weaving. Jar burials and subterranean tombs were found below the floors and within the confines of residential units, reflecting social concepts of kinship affiliation and beliefs related to life after death typical of the diversity of Middle Bronze Age–II mortuary practices.

The Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.E.): strata XV–XIII (=2–1A in the lower city).

The transition to the Late Bronze Age was gradual and peaceful. No archaeological evidence for the alleged destruction related to the campaigns of Thutmose III in Canaan was found during the renewed excavations. The Late Bronze Age I (1550–1400 B.C.E.) reflects overall continuity from the previous period, although several important changes in the organization of the site are discerned. The acropolis was redesigned and partly rebuilt, and a new symmetrical monumental temple, Yadin’s “Long Temple” (Yadin, 1972, pp. 102–104) or in the renewed excavations the “Northern Temple,” was erected in Area A. It was built in the Late Bronze Age I and abandoned during the Late Bronze Age II. This temple was incorporated within the existing royal precinct, which also contained the royal palace and the Southern Temple, which continued in use in the first phase of the Late Bronze Age. In the lower city, a similar continuity in architecture and other aspects of material culture was discerned. The temple in Area H retained its basic plan, despite several interior changes (Yadin and Geva, 1989, pp. 223–240, plan XXXVIII). A pottery kiln, with dozens of miniature bowls probably used as temple offerings, was found in the southern courtyard. A monumental structure in Area F was reconstructed by Yadin as a “Square Temple” similar to the Amman sanctuary, but this interpretation is difficult to assess due to its fragmentary preservation (Yadin and Geva, 1989, plan XXIX). The city gates and the domestic quarters underwent no major changes, indicating that Hazor of the fifteenth century B.C.E. was similar in organization and social structure to its Middle Bronze–IIB predecessor.

Stratum XIV (=1B, Late Bronze Age IIA) reflects a significant change in the overall organization of the city, as well as in the plan and function of its various structures. The acropolis underwent profound changes in spatial organization as most of the earlier structures ceased to exist during this phase. The Northern Temple went out of use, although some cultic activity might have taken place in its abandoned courtyard. The huge storage facility in the northeastern part of Area A was unused, and the Southern Temple was filled with thick layers of earth and mud-brick material that covered the original pavement and the favissa. This was also the fate of the Royal Palace and the Standing Stones Precincts, both of which were carefully covered by thick layers of sterile earth. The whole area was sealed by these artificial fills, creating the fill for the huge podium upon which the new Ceremonial Precinct was erected.

The Ceremonial Precinct consisted of a central monumental structure (Building 7050), courtyards to its east and north, and a later phase of the Southern Temple, with a row of large limestone ashlars added to its walls. The plan of the precinct is symmetrical. The eastern courtyard has two parallel rows of column bases enclosing a stone-built square podium, in front of the entrance to Building 7050. The area around the podium was rich in animal bones, attesting to intensive cultic activity. The monumental Building 7050, constructed according to north Syrian traditions, is at the center of the Ceremonial Precinct. Basalt orthostats line the outer and some of the inner walls, constructed using mud bricks and a wooden beam superstructure on a stone foundation. The entrance is through a paved porch with two huge basalt column bases, leading into two side rooms and then a central hall. A basalt orthostat in the shape of a crouching lion, found in a later Iron-Age wall in this area, might have been part of the original entrance. The central hall is bordered by subsidiary rooms.

Building 7050 is symmetrical and aligned on an east–west axis. Its various rooms were filled with hundreds of clay vessels and a wealth of other objects. The ceramic assemblage is dominated by open and carinated bowls as well as miniature votive vessels and large pithoi. Other objects include stone and ivory statues; bronze figurines of gods, kings, and bulls; bone jewelry boxes with ivory inlays; jewelry and other objects of personal adornment made of precious metals and semiprecious stones; ceremonial weapons; and several cuneiform clay tablets. All of these reflect the wealth of fourteenth-century B.C.E. Hazor and illuminate activities of ritual, conspicuous consumption and feasting conducted in the Ceremonial Precinct. The nature and function of Building 7050 and the ceremonial precinct are debated. Some members of the Hazor team interpret it as a ceremonial palace, used for state receptions and royal rituals, while others view it as a monumental temple. Whatever its function might have been, the structure is an impressive embodiment of elite ideology and royal power in Late Bronze–Age Hazor, built as part of a large-scale building project aimed to implement the new royal ideology of its powerful ruler.

The Podium Complex, another monumental structure, which was erected facing the lower city on the northern slope of the tell (Area M), was part of the same project of redesigning the acropolis and the entire urban landscape. The entrance on the north was lined with two basalt orthostats. An area paved by basalt orthostats formed the portal. Attached to the niche in its rear wall was a square podium, constructed of basalt orthostats and a huge basalt slab with four shallow depressions. This portal, which served as the locus of libation rituals, led into a pebble-paved courtyard and, from there, into a tripartite hall. The ample use of basalt orthostats and wooden beams, in addition to two fragments of royal inscriptions in Akkadian and hieroglyphics, attest to its function as part of another royal edifice, controlling ascent to the acropolis.

Evidence for large-scale reorganization and elite-initiated building projects was also found throughout the lower city. The cultic milieu, represented by the various temples and open cult places, was the most affected by this ambitious activity. The Area H Orthostats Temple was redesigned. With the addition of a third frontal room and interior reorganizations, the temple assumed a tripartite division, similar to the biblical description of the Solomonic Temple in Jerusalem. The courtyard probably served for rituals connected with sacrifice and libation. The two basalt column bases at the entrance to the building and a lion orthostat found buried in the courtyard further emphasize the monumentality of this temple and its close resemblance to Building 7050 on the acropolis. A wealth of cultic paraphernalia was found in the temple and its courtyard, including basalt statues, bronze figurines of gods and bulls, basalt vessels, and an offering altar. The deity worshiped was the Canaanite storm god Hadad/Baal, the main god of Hazor.

Another small temple was erected during this phase, in Area C, built against the southwestern corner of the earthen rampart. Previously housing a domestic quarter, the area was rearranged around the new Stelae Temple and its courtyard. The temple, small and irregular, had a rounded niche opposite its entrance and 10 basalt massebot (standing stones), one bearing an incised motif of a crescent and circle. This motif and a similar one incised on the chest of a basalt statue of a seated figure led Yadin to suggest that the Area C temple was dedicated to the Canaanite moon god; others prefer an ancestor cult. The Area C sanctuary served a smaller kin group or a distinct neighborhood among the many in the lower city. Other cultic loci include the open-air altar and subsidiary structures in Area F and smaller installations near the gates and in Areas D and E.

Similar replanning and affluence are reflected in the residential areas (Areas C and F). They reveal a new system of streets and alleys (Area C), and in the renewed excavations of Area S, in the center of the lower city, a well-planned courtyard house was built along a north–south alley. Its excavation sheds light on the household activities of Hazor’s commoners. Overall, the fourteenth-century B.C.E. city was a flourishing one, redesigned and rebuilt on a large scale, reflecting an ambitious attempt by the ruling elite to implement its royal ideology through visible material means.

Stratum XIII (=1A in the lower city), the last phase of Canaanite Hazor, is marked by decline and deterioration in all aspects of material culture. The gates went out of use, leaving the city unfortified. The Ceremonial Precinct and the Podium Complex on the acropolis witnessed architectural changes, including the removal of orthostats and their burial in pits, the erection of ad hoc installations, and architectural modifications best described as “crisis architecture.” Cultic activities conducted within the Ceremonial Precinct intensified. Similar processes can be identified in other public structures in the lower city, especially in the Orthostat Temple in Area H and the Stelae Temple in Area C. Noteworthy is the intentional mutilation and interment of statues and images of gods, kings, and other types of authority. All public structures came to a violent end, with evidence of fierce conflagration and severe destruction clearly visible. The fate of the domestic structures is still difficult to assess, but at least in one case (in Area S) a courtyard house was abandoned in an orderly fashion rather than being violently destroyed.

Canaanite Hazor was destroyed sometime during the thirteenth century B.C.E. More precise dating, whether in the first or the second half of the century, is still debated. Related to this issue is the identification of the agents of destruction, whether the Israelites, other Canaanite city-states, or the Hazorites themselves, in an act of vengeance targeted at the symbols of power of the ruling elites. In any case, the entire site was abandoned, the acropolis for at least a century and the lower city for good.

The Iron Age I (1200–985 B.C.E.): strata XII–XI.

The eleventh-century B.C.E. settlement, the first built over the ruins of the Canaanite city, was ephemeral and short-lived, consisting mainly of a few flimsy walls and dozens of stone-lined pits scattered throughout the acropolis. In Area A, the renewed excavations found Yadin’s allocation of two stratigraphic phases unwarranted; its remains are now all attributed to one stratum, termed XII/XI. Some features attributed to it were constructed above a layer of fill accumulation, attesting to a hiatus in settlement; and there is only limited reuse of earlier remains. The “mound of ruins” on top of the Late Bronze–Age Ceremonial Precinct, especially the remains of Building 7050, was intentionally avoided; and no pits were found in this area. Two open cult places (bammoth) date to this period, one in Area B and the other in Area A. Both contain one or more standing basalt stones, probably recovered from the adjacent Canaanite ruins. A jug containing fragments of bronze objects, including a figurine of a seated god and several weapons and tools, was found buried under the floor of the Area B cult place. The location of these cult places, their proximity to the Canaanite ruins, and their incorporation of objects scavenged from these ruins might attest to appropriation of the Canaanite past by Hazor’s early Iron-Age inhabitants, who are variously identified as newly arrived early Israelites or local Canaanites returning to their abandoned ancestral home.

The Iron Age IIA–B (985–700 B.C.E.).

The development of the Israelite city was gradual. No sharp breaks in the pottery sequence characterize the Iron Age–IIA–B strata. Finds from the various strata, including clay figurines, metal tools and weapons, stone objects, and items of personal adornment, are usually rather simple and domestic in nature.

Following the abandonment of the ephemeral settlement of the eleventh century B.C.E., a well-planned, fortified settlement was established on the upper tell. The Area A and B architectural remains include a monumental six-chambered gate and a casemate wall enclosing the western part of the tell. Fragmentary remains of a monumental structure below the later citadel in Area B are attributed to this phase and may have been an earlier fort. Several residential units, sharing common walls and opening into an alley parallel to the casemate wall, were excavated in Area A. The sequence of four phases, consisting of modifications within the structures, is defined as strata Xa–Xb and IXa–IXb. In stratum X, the initial four-room house (the basic plan characterizing Israelite sites) was for nuclear families and served all essential domestic functions including food processing, storage, and housing livestock. Stratum IX, especially its later phase, represents a decline in the city. With Yadin’s suggestion to identify Hazor stratum X with the Solomonic city mentioned in 1 Kings 9:15, the site gained a prominent place in the debate over the historicity of the biblical account of the United Monarchy. The excavators and other scholars maintain Yadin’s dating of stratum X to the tenth century B.C.E., while proponents of the low chronology date strata X–IX to the ninth century B.C.E. and attribute the building activities to the Omride dynasty.

Strata VIII and VII represent a wholesale rebuilding of the urban space at Hazor. The casemates in the central part of the city were converted into storage spaces. A new fortification wall, a solid one constructed in the offset–inset style, encompassed the whole area of the upper tell and doubled the size of the city. Other public works include an enlarged citadel in Area B and a newly constructed water system in Area L, which Yadin attributed to the time of Ahab (r. ca. 874–853 B.C.E.). In stratum VIII, the earlier domestic units in Area A gave way to several monumental administrative structures, tripartite in plan, and to two large public granaries, thus forming the administrative quarter of the city. At least two additional administrative structures were excavated in Area M, on the northern fringe of the city. These tripartite structures were used as storehouses. Several houses, three- and four-room in plan, were found in the northwestern part of Area A.

In the following phase, stratum VII, most of the administrative structures continued to function, with only minor modifications. Several residences, mostly of the four-room type, were built to the west and south of the administrative quarter, encroaching open public spaces. The best example, Building 2a, was built in this phase.

The urban plan and internal organization of Hazor during the ninth century B.C.E. attests to its role as a major administrative and governmental center within the system of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The popular four-room house plan embodied social, economic, cognitive, and cosmological concepts characterizing Iron-Age Israelite society. The end of stratum VII was not accompanied by signs of destruction.

Overall continuity in urban planning is evident in stratum VI, including the citadel in Area B and the water system in Area L. The Area A administrative structures of the previous stratum underwent minor modifications, but the public granaries and related structures gave way to new, mostly residential buildings. The residences east of the casemate wall are attributed to this phase. They show significant variety in plan, size, and architectural quality and have been the subject of several studies seeking to identify differences in the social status and ethnic affiliation of Hazor’s various residents.

The central part of Area A, where the Ceremonial Precinct of the Late Bronze Age once stood, was left practically untouched throughout the five centuries of the Iron Age. In stratum V, this “mound of ruins,” still standing 6.6 ft (2 m) high, was enclosed by a thin wall and all building activities were restricted to the area outside of it. Significant changes occurred in the main part of Area A, now dedicated to small, densely built residential units, with fewer public structures and open spaces. Several houses were built outside the perimeter of the city wall, in Area M. The subphases discerned within this stratum represent a gradual decline and intensified use of the urban space, probably due to worsening political and economic conditions and escalating pressures from the north.

Stratum V ended in a violent destruction, attributed to the Assyrian campaign of Tiglath-pileser III in 732 B.C.E. Evidence of preparations for this looming threat was found in the citadel in Area B, where reinforcement of the fortifications (including addition of the western tower) and changes in the internal organization of the structure were interpreted as measures taken by Hazor inhabitants in the face of the Assyrian threat. Evidence of conflagration was found in some of the residential structures in Area A, although others seem to have been abandoned rather than destroyed.

Stratum IV represents a short-lived, unfortified settlement on top of the destroyed structures of the last Israelite city. Flimsy walls and haphazard installations, sometimes reusing earlier architectural features, were found in Areas B, A, and G. The renewed excavations uncovered stratum IV remains in Areas A and M. Noteworthy are the relatively substantial remains in Area M, including a spacious pebble-paved courtyard with a deep well in its center and a massive wall bordering it on the east. The similarity between material culture, especially the pottery assemblage, of this stratum and its predecessors led Yadin to define it as an (unsuccessful) Israelite attempt to renew the settlement on the tell following the Assyrian destruction.

The Assyrian period (eighth–seventh centuries B.C.E.): stratum III.

Remains of this phase, representing the Assyrian presence at Hazor following the abandonment of the last Israelite settlement, were found in Area B. They include a large structure with several rooms arranged around a central courtyard, with a large open courtyard to the east. Since its plan was like those of the Assyrian structures in Megiddo stratum II and its walls were built over the last Israelite citadel, this structure was interpreted as an Assyrian governmental building. The massive foundations of a huge structure were uncovered in the center of Area A. A monumental structure east of the tell, in the area of kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar, is also interpreted as a governmental building, built according to Neo-Assyrian principles immediately after the Assyrian conquest of the site. These monumental structures suggest that the Assyrian presence at Hazor might have been more significant than previously assumed.

The Persian period (sixth–fourth centuries B.C.E.): stratum II.

Remains of stratum II, found in Areas A, B, G, and M, are attributed to the Persian period. The Area B citadel continued in use, albeit in a nonmilitary manner; and several alterations to the original plan were recorded. Remains of Persian-period structures were found all along the northern edge of the tell, in Areas M and G. These include parts of large residential units with courtyards, identified as farmhouses. Installations such as tabuns (ovens) and worktables (made of Bronze-Age basalt orthostats in secondary use) were found in both areas. The settlement of Hazor during this period seems to have been rural and limited to the fringes of the upper tell. Dozens of graves, usually pit graves covered with stone slabs, were found in the central part of the tell and on its northern slope. Some of these were rich in grave gifts, including bronze artifacts, glass objects, jewelry, weapons, and fragments of imported pottery vessels. The wealth of these tombs attests to a measure of prosperity among Hazor’s inhabitants during the Persian period.

The Hellenistic period (fourth–first centuries B.C.E.): stratum I.

The only structure that can be attributed to this period is a partially preserved “fort” in Area B, founded on top of the walls of the previous stratum. In addition, occasional pottery sherds (including an imported Greek krater) attest to its existence.

The later periods (seventh–twentieth centuries C.E.): stratum 0.

The Early Islamic, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods are represented by sporadic sherds found throughout the site. The latter two are also represented by fragmentary architectural features uncovered in Area A by Yadin’s expedition and the renewed excavations.


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Sharon Zuckerman