Four questions for Shlomit Bechar & Amnon Ben-Tor
Archaeologists with the Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations have been digging at Hazor, Israel’s largest archaeological site, since 1990. Yet, in 2020, the expedition’s directors, Amnon Ben-Tor and Shlomit Bechar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, paused because of the pandemic. They stayed busy, even initiating a new project, and hope to return to Hazor in 2021. Here’s to another 30 years!—M.S.
How did you come to the difficult decision to cancel last year’s dig season?
SHLOMIT BECHAR & AMNON BEN- TOR: We did not want to put the lives of our volunteers and our staff in danger. Soon after we made our decision, all other academic gath- erings, such as conferences and lectures, were also being canceled.
Even though you did not dig in 2020, were you able to pursue research at Tel Hazor in other ways?
BECHAR & BEN-TOR: Yes, during the sum- mer we continued to work on the publication of the upcoming Hazor VIII volume and on other articles that will be published soon. We also vis- ited Hazor to collect samples for other projects.
How did you fill your “free” time last summer?
BECHAR & BEN-TOR: We initiated the Hazor Regional Project and conducted a short trial excavation near the site. This is a project aimed at studying the immediate region of Hazor to understand how the residents of Hazor used the land around the city. In the future, we will investigate different sites, which have only been surveyed, and conduct small excavations to answer our research questions.
What do you think your 2021 dig season will
BECHAR & BEN-TOR: We expect the 2021 season to be different in some ways than previ- ous seasons. First, from our correspondence with our volunteers, it is clear that all of them are eager to get back to the field, and we expect a high turnout of volunteers this year. Second, to ensure social distancing, we may enlarge the excavation areas. Other than that, we expect the season to be similar to previous seasons. We will continue our excavation in the Israelite levels of the site, examining both public and pri- vate structures. The excavation area is located near the Israelite six-chambered gate and the Canaanite administrative palace (see aerial photo, below).
Download the Digs 2021 ebook for additional interviews with directors whose excavations were affected by the pandemic.
If you would like to join an excavation in 2021, visit biblicalarchaeology.org/digs for opportunities. This page includes a description of each site, goals for the coming season, important finds from past seasons, biblical connections, and profiles of dig directors.
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Digs 2019: A Day in the Life by Robert Cargill
Digs 2018: Migration and Immigration in Ancient Israel by Robert Cargill
Digs 2017: Digging Through Time by Ellen White
Digs 2016: Passport to the Biblical World by Robin Ngo
Digs 2015: Blast from the Past by Megan Sauter
Digs 2014: Layers of Meaning by Noah Weiner
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