By Gordon Franz
The 2006 Season
This past summer was the 17th season of the renewed excavations of Hazor in memory of Professor Yigel Yadin. ABR had a group of 11 volunteers, lead by Larry Fuller (ABR president) and myself. We joined about 50 other volunteers from Israel and abroad (Scotland, Poland, Romania, America, Denmark, and England) in order to excavate this important site. The ABR team toured around Israel as part of the actual digging at Tel Hazor. Our people worked in two areas: A-4 and the renewed Area M.
The main concentration of work for this season was Area M. It is in this area that Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, the area supervisor, has suggested that the administrative palace of Hazor was and the Canaanite archive of the Late Bronze level would be located (2006: 28-37). But before the Late Bronze Age is reached, we must go through the Persian period level and the Iron Age levels. For a report of the previous seasons of Area M, see Ben-Tor and Rubiato 1999: 32-34.
In the spring, a bulldozer removed the top half meter of a road that had been put in by the National Parks Authority to allow tourists to drive to the top of the site. Nine 5 x 5 meter squares were opened this season. Immediately underneath this road were several stone walls of the Persian period (4th century BC), apparently making the corner of two rooms. The walls and the restorable pottery that were found were an important contribution to our understanding of Hazor because the excavations in the 1950’s and 1960’s by Prof. Yigel Yadin yielded very little Persian period architecture.
Two of the ABR volunteers worked in the corners of the rooms. Michael Lassiter found a cylindrical seal with two dancing animals on it. After it was cleaned, it was identified as being from the Persian period. He also found an intact Persian period storage jar. Hazor is a scientific excavation so Mike spent the better part of a morning removing the packed dirt from the jar in order to do “flotation” on the soil. This process collects the seeds that were originally in the jar so they could be analyzed and identified.
Joyce Morril worked in the other room. She found lots of restorable vessels of the Persian period. One square over, James Muehling found a bronze object that looked like a battery, but after cleaning, it turned out to be part of a dagger’s handle, possibly of the Persian period or Iron Age. Unfortunately the blade is in the blaulk that separates the two squares and time did not allow it to be removed.
In four of the squares, a cobble stone pavement was reached, apparently part of a courtyard from the Iron Age. In a fifth square there were remains of a hewn water channel that lead to the entrance of a cistern in the courtyard. Unfortunately the excavation was stopped prematurely, thus leaving lots of questions unanswered, just when we were beginning to find things and the area started to make sense.
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.
We’re Outa Here!
On the next to the last day (Thursday) that the ABR group was scheduled to dig at Hazor, trouble broke out in the area. Our Israeli staff had our best interest and safety in mind and within 15 minutes, a bus was on the site to evacuate us. We had an early breakfast and returned to the hotel to get what we needed and were taken to Tiberius. On Saturday morning our bus picked us up, as scheduled, from the Tiberias hotel and were went to Jerusalem to shop and tour and then returned to the United States on Sunday night.
The Prospects for the 2007 Season
Due to the troubles in the Middle East, the 2006 season was cut short by a few weeks and left many unanswered questions. Hopefully, next year some of these questions will be answered.
Dr. Zuckerman has made a compelling case for the archives to be found in Area M. 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.
Ben-Tor, Amnon, and Rubiato, Maria Teresa
1999 Did the Israelites Destroy the Canaanite City? Biblical Archaeology Review 25/3: 22-39.
2006 Where is the Hazor Archive Buried? Biblical Archaeology Review 32/2: 28-37.