For several millennia during the Bronze and Iron Ages, history tells us that Hazor was the greatest city in northern Palestine and perhaps one of the greatest cities in all of the Eastern Mediterranean. Hazor and its kings are mentioned in the militaristic boasts and diplomatic correspondences of ancient Near Eastern rulers, while the Book of Joshua famously refers to Hazor as “the head” of all the Canaanite kingdoms. Even after the Israelites had conquered and resettled the city, Hazor still dwarfed the rest of the major cities of the Israelite kingdom of David and Solomon, including Jerusalem. Hazor remained a principle settlement in the northern kingdom of Israel until the Assyrian ruler Tiglath-Pileser III destroyed the city in 732 B.C.E.
Recently named a UNESCO World Heritage site, Hazor is one of the largest archaeological sites in all of Israel, with its great, bottle-shaped mound covering over 200 acres. The site has an upper mound as well as a lower city, and excavations over the decades have revealed 22 strata of occupational debris, the earliest dating to the 18th century B.C. Amidst those layers, archaeologists have uncovered the impressive remains of a grand Canaanite (and then Israelite) city that was once only known from history and the Bible. Among the major discoveries at Hazor have been colossal Canaanite temples and buildings, curious cultic statues and installations, an expansive city water system and a famous monumental six-chamber gate widely attributed to Solomon.
This season, dig directors Amnon Ben-Tor and Shlomit Bechar plan to continue the excavation of the Iron Age levels dating to the 8th and 9th centuries BCE. They also expect to reach the top of the destruction level of the Late Bronze Age administrative palace.
20 miles north of the Sea of Galilee
Bronze, Iron, Persian
3 or 6 credits; $120/credit hour; awarded by Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Volunteers will stay three per room at the Kibbutz Amiad Holiday Village. Each room features a/c, a kitchenette, a television and private showers. The kibbutz offers a swimming pool, basketball and tennis courts as well as a supermarket, coffee shop and winery.
No specific tours are offered of the excavation site, but visitors are welcome to visit the park during its operating hours (8:00 am-5:00 pm, entrance fee required).
Amnon Ben-Tor has led the Hazor excavations since 1990. He is the Yigael Yadin Professor in the Archaeology of Eretz Israel at the Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a post he has held since 1988. He has participated in digs since 1963 and has spent many seasons at Yoqne’am and Tel Qashish, as well as at Horvat Usa, Tel Yarmuth, Azor, Tel Qiri and Athienou (Cyprus). He co-authored Yoqne’am I: The Late Periods (Jerusalem, 1996) and Tel Qashish, A Village in the Jezreel Valley (Jerusalem, 2003). He edited Yoqne’am II: The Iron Age (Jerusalem, 2005) and Yoqne’am III: The Bronze Age (Jerusalem 2005). He recently co-authored Hazor VI: The Iron Age (Jerusalem 2012) and Hazor VII: The Bronze Age (Jerusalem 2017) and is currently working on Hazor VIII: Area M in the Iron and Bronze Ages.
Shlomit Bechar received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shlomit has been a leading staff member of the Tel Hazor excavations since 2007 and has been the co-director of the excavation since 2015. She co-authored Hazor VII: The Bronze Age (Jerusalem 2017) and is currently working on Hazor VIII: Area M in the Iron and Bronze Ages.