Hazor 2002 -- By: Brian Janeway

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 16:3 (Summer 2003)
Article: Hazor 2002
Author: Brian Janeway


Hazor 2002

Brian Janeway

[Hazor had been the head of all these kingdom. Everyone in it they put to the sword. They totally destroyed them, not sparing anything that breathed, and he burned up Hazor itself (Joshua 11:10–11).]

Plan of Hazor, showing excavation areas.

Readers of Bible and Spade are well aware of the tale of the Conquest as recorded in the book of Joshua, especially the battles for Jericho and for Ai, the latter of which is believed to be located at Khirbet el-Maqatir. This article will deal briefly with Hazor, the third of only three sites said to have been put to the torch by the Israelites under Joshua late in the 15th century BC: Jericho, Ai and Hazor.

The excavation seasons 2001 and 2002 have not been productive ones in Israel due to continuing hostilities between the Israelis and the Palestinians. As many as 80% of the planned projects have either been postponed or cancelled, including ABR’s own at Kh. el-Maqatir. This led the author to participate in the excavations at Hazor, located in the Upper Galilee, 14 km (9 mi) north of the Sea of Galilee. Its importance as a site to our understanding of the Conquest and settlement of the Israelites is perhaps unsurpassed due to its prominence in antiquity and the relatively well-preserved stratigraphy remaining in its ruins.

First identified by J.L. Porter in 1875 with Tel el-Qeddah, Hazor was first dug by John Garstang in 1928, when he made soundings on both the upper and lower sections. Unfortunately, he did not publish his results in detail. He concluded that the 180-acre lower city, which he called an “enclosure,” functioned as a camp area for infantry soldiers and chariotry.

One of the primary objectives of the renewed excavations under Yigael Yadin in 1955 was to determine if Garstang was correct. From 1955 to 1958, Yadin uncovered evidence that the entire lower city had been thoroughly occupied during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages. It was not a chariot camp at all, but rather a thriving and prosperous city that endured until its final fiery destruction at the end of the Late Bronze Age. After that, occupation was limited to the upper city. Yadin was a firm believer in the “late” date for the Israelite conquest. Therefore, the destruction of both upper and lower cities, which he dated to 1230–1220 BC, he attributed to Joshua (Yadin 1972:46, 132, n 1; Rabinovich and Silberman 1998:53, Ben-Tor 1999:28).

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