By Gordon Franz
INDIANA JONES AND HAZOR
Someone shouted, “Bucket chain!” All the volunteers and area supervisors took their positions and passed 200 plus buckets from one to another across Area A-5, up the ladder and into waiting wheelbarrows. Others pushed the wheelbarrows to the dump a few meters away. Last summer (2005), we literally moved tons of dirt and rocks at the excavations at Tel Hazor by doing 10-15 bucket chains per day for six weeks.
We accomplished a lot as far as moving dirt was concerned, but had little to show for it with regard to small finds. I came to the startling realization that Indiana Jones and his clones are purely fictional characters. Real archaeology is a lot of donkey work!
The 2005 Season
This past summer was the 16th season of the renewed excavations in memory of Professor Yigael Yadin. ABR had a group of 21 volunteers, lead by Larry Fuller (ABR president) and myself. We had tours around Israel as well as actual digging at Tel Hazor. Our people worked in two areas: A-4 and A-5.
A-4 was divided into two sections, south and north respectively. The last of the 10th century BC Solomonic remains were removed in the southern section in order to penetrate into the Bronze Age. In this section, a plaster floor from the Early Bronze IV period emerged. This discovery, plus other information, demonstrated that the Upper City of Hazor was densely populated. Underneath these remains was a room from the Early Bronze III period. In the northern section, a massive stone was discovered, possibly of a palace (?) from the Middle Bronze II period.
A-5 is an East-West trench located in front of the Solomonic Gate. This area was also divided into two sections, south and north respectively. In previous seasons we found large walls with mudbrick preserved to the height of 4 meters on top of stone foundations that are placed on bedrock. The function of these walls is elusive. I jokingly refer to them as the “Canaanite rat maze!” We have two large “halls” that seemingly do not have entrances.
As Amnon Ben-Tor, the excavator of Hazor has observed: “The remains exposed in Area A-5 raise three main issues: 1) the nature of the exposed hall, 2) the date of the structure, and 3) the question how the mudbrick walls survived to almost their original height of over 4 m., until the halls were filled the Iron Age II” (Ben-Tor 2005).
The restoration projects at Hazor continued this season as well. Orna Cohen and her restorers have beautifully reconstructed the Late Bronze palace on the top of the tel. Tourists will now be able to sense some of the power and glory of the Canaanite kings of Hazor in this ceremonial reception hall.
The Prospects for the 2006 Season
One question that is asked of Dr. Ben-Tor is: “Have you found the Canaanite archives yet?” It is known that at least two Canaanite archives existed at Hazor, one in the Middle Bronze Age and the other in the Late Bronze Age. In the 2006 season there will be an attempt to answer this question. One of the staff members, Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, has suggested that the administrative palace of Hazor was near the gate from the Lower City to the Upper City. She will set forth her case in a forthcoming issue of “Biblical Archaeology Review.” In order to test this hypothesis, the 2006 season will concentrate on a reopened Area M that Dr. Zuckerman directed for a number of years (Ben-Tor and Rubiato 1999: 32-34). There are still several little projects to be completed in Areas A-4 and A-5, including finding the elusive entrances to the halls.
When the archive(s) are found at Hazor, it/they will be a major contribution to Biblical studies and go a long way to resolve some of the thorny issues in Biblical Archaeology.
2005 Notes and News: Tel Hazor, 2005. Israel Exploration Journal. Forthcoming.
Ben-Tor, Amnon, and Rubiato, Maria Teresa
1999 Did the Israelites Destroy the Canaanite City? Biblical Archaeology Review 25/3: 22-39.