Excavating with Abr at Hazor -- By: Sandy Souza

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 18:2 (Spring 2005)
Article: Excavating with Abr at Hazor
Author: Sandy Souza


Excavating with Abr at Hazor

Sandy Souza

A Photo tour of the 2004 season

(all photos by the author)

Hazor is about 9 mi (14 km) north of the Sea of Galilee, which is 700 ft (215 m) below sea level, so it is not only very hot, but also very humid. Called “the head of all those kingdoms” in the book of Joshua (11:10), Hazor is the largest Biblical site in Israel, occupying some 200 acres. Jabin, king of Hazor, was very powerful (Jos 11:1–5). Nevertheless, the city was burned by Joshua around 1400 BC, at the end of the Late Bronze I period (Jos 11:11). It was later conquered by Deborah and Barak during Iron Age I in ca. 1230 BC (Jgs 4:24) and then fortified by King Solomon during Iron Age II, around 950 BC (1 Kgs 9:15).

Hazor’s importance as a site for our understanding of the Conquest and settlement of Canaan by the Israelites is perhaps unsurpassed due to its prominence in antiquity and the relatively well-preserved stratigraphy remaining in its ruins. While structures were built all around the Late Bronze Age Canaanite palace, for example, nothing was ever built on top of it. So what was left after the conflagration, which was at its worse in the northwest corner of the building, is pretty much seen intact today.

At its zenith in the Middle Bronze period (2000–1500 BC), Hazor was like the Hong Kong of today—a large, very rich and very powerful force in international trade in the known world of that time, with more than 100,000 inhabitants, huge for that time.

While the tell occupied 200 acres in the Middle Bronze (2000–1500 BC) and Late Bronze (1500–1200 BC) periods, only 20 acres on the west side were inhabited in other periods of occupation. We were digging in the 20 acres where the rulers and the rich lived. This was very different from our projects at Khirbet Nisya and Khirbet el-Maqatir, which were basically lookout posts inhabited by soldiers and their families and the merchants who supplied them. There, we were digging up strictly utilitarian vessels and instruments. At Hazor, however, pieces of both fine painted imported vessels and domestic copies were surfacing regularly in almost every shovelful.

Professor Amnon Ben-Tor of Hebrew University has been the director of the dig since 1990. He is at the top of his game as an archaeologist. He also led all the teaching tours of the site, gave most of the classes in the evening and served us watermelon while we washed pottery before going back to t...

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