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|Location 33° 1′ 5.65″ N, 35° 34′ 8.59″ E|
|City Tel Hatzor|
|Open to visitors yes|
|Need appointment no|
|Handicap accessibility no|
|Geographical Coordinates 33.01122,35.55914|
A tell or tel, (from Hebrew: תֵּל, also tel or tell from Arabic: تلّ, tall) is a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment, of a geographical site over many centuries. A classic tell looks like a low, truncated cone with a flat top and sloping sides. A tell is a hill created by different civilizations living and rebuilding in the same spot. Over time, the level rises, forming a mound. Excavating a tell reveals buried structures such as government or military buildings, religious shrines and homes, located at different depths depending on their date of use. They often overlap, horizontally, vertically, or both. Archaeologists excavate tell sites to interpret architecture, purpose, and date of occupation. Since excavating a tell is a destructive process, physicists and geophysicists have developed non-destructive methods of mapping tell sites.
Tel Hazor (Hebrew: תל חצור), also Hatzor, present day Tell el-Qedah, is a tell above the site of ancient Hazor, whose archaeological remains are the largest and richest known in modern Israel. Hazor was an ancient city located in the Upper Galilee, north of the Sea of Galilee, between Ramah and Kadesh, on the high ground overlooking Lake Merom. In 2005, the remains of Hazor were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba.
History and time period
During the Egyptian Second Intermediate Period and early New Kingdoms (together running between 18th century BC and 13th century BC), Canaan was an Egyptian vassal state. Documented of the 14th century, from the El Amarna archive in Egypt, describe the king of Hazor (in Amarna letters called Hasura), Abdi-Tirshi, as swearing loyalty to the Egyptian Pharaoh. However, EA 148 specifically reports that Hasura's king went over to the Habiru who were invading Canaan. In these documents, Hazor is described as an important city in Canaan. Hazor is also mentioned in the Execration texts, that pre-date the Amarna letters, and in 18th century BCE documents found in Mari on the Euphrates River. According to the Book of Joshua Hazor was the seat of Jabin, a powerful Canaanite king that led a Canaanite confederation against Joshua, but was defeated by Joshua, who burnt Hazor to the ground. However according to the Book of Judges the king of Canaan, whose commander, Sisera, led a Canaanite army against Barak, but was ultimately defeated. Textual scholars believe that the prose account of Barak, which differs from the poetic account in the Song of Deborah, is a conflation of accounts of two separate events. One concerning Barak and Sisera like the poetic account, the other concerning Jabin's confederation and defeat. In addition, textual scholars think that the Book of Judges and Book of Joshua are parallel accounts, referring to the same events, rather than describing different time periods, and thus that they refer to the same Jabin, a powerful king based in Hazor, whose Canaanite confederation was defeated by an Israelite army.
The Chambered Gate from the days of Solomon. Some archaeologists believe that the Israelite's emerged simply as a subculture within Canaanite society, and thus that the Israelite conquest of Canaan did not happen as detailed in the Bible. Most biblical scholars believe that the Book of Joshua conflates several independent battles between disparate groups, over multiple centuries, and artificially attributes them to a single leader - Joshua. Nevertheless, one archaeological stratum, dating from around 1200 BC, shows signs of catastrophic fire, and cuneiform tablets found at the site refer to monarchs named Ibni Addi, where Ibni may be the etymological origin of Yavin (Jabin). The city also show signs of having been a magnificent Canaanite city prior to its destruction, with great temples and opulent palaces, split into an upper acropolis, and lower city; the town evidently had been a major Canaanite city. Some archaeologists suspect the reason for the destruction of Hazor could be civil strife, attacks by the Sea Peoples, and/or a result of the general collapse of civilization across the whole eastern Mediterranean in the Late Bronze Age. This view is disputed by recent archaeological dig that took place there. Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor (Institute of Archaeology, The Hebrew University) believes that evidence of this violent destruction by burning was discovered in various areas of excavation of the site.
The archaeological remains suggest that some time after its destruction, the city of Hazor was rebuilt as a minor village. According to the Books of Kings, the town, along with Megiddo, and Gezer, was later substantially fortified and expanded by Solomon. Like those at Megiddo, and Gezer, the remains at Hazor show that during the Early Iron Age the town gained a highly distinctive six chambered gate, as well as a characteristic style to its administration buildings. Archaeologists determined that these constructions at Hazor were built by the same leadership as those at Megiddo and Gezer. By reference to the Books of Kings, some archaeologists conclude that these remains verify the Biblical account, that they were constructed in the tenth century by King Solomon. Others date these structures to the early 9th century BC, during the reign of the Omrides. Yigael Yadin, one of the earliest archaeologists to have worked on the site, saw certain features as clearly being Omride, Megiddo, Gezer, and Hazor, all feature deep rock cut pits, from the base of which were rock cut tunnels leading to a well that reached the water table, as water-supply systems, which Yadin attributed to the rule of Ahab. Yadin also attributed to Ahab a citadel, measuring 25 x 21 m, with two-meter thick walls, which was erected in the western part of Hazor. However, Yadin's dating was based on the assumption that the layer connected with the gates and administration buildings were built by Solomon, and thus most archaeologists now date the citadel and rock cut water system much later. Archaeological remains indicate that towards the later half of the 9th century BC, when the king of Israel was Jehu, Hazor fell into the control of Aram Damascus. Most archaeologists suspect that subsequent to this conquest, unmentioned by the Bible, was a sustained period of occupation by the Aramaean forces. The remains indicate that Hazor was rebuilt shortly after its conquest by Aram, probably as an Aramaean city. When the Assyrians later defeated the Aramaeans, Hazor seemingly returned to Israelite control. Assyrian records indicate that Joash, the king of Israel at the time, had paid tribute to Assyria and Israel had become an Assyrian vassal. Subsequently, the town, along with the remainder of the kingdom of Israel, entered a period of great prosperity, particularly during the rule of Jeroboam II. Most archaeologists now attribute the later large scale constructions at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, including the rock cut water supply systems, to this era. Israel's attempted rebellion against Assyrian domination resulted in an invasion by the forces of the Assyrian ruler, Tiglath-Pileser III. The evidence on the ground suggests that hasty attempts were made to reinforce the defenses of Hazor. Despite the defences, in 732 BC Hazor was captured, its population deported, and the city was burnt to the ground.
"The site of Hazor is around 200 acres (0.81 km2) in area, with an upper city making up about 1/8 of that. The upper mound has a height of about 40 meters. Initial soundings at Tell El-Qedah were done by John Garstang in 1926.
In modern times, major excavations were conducted for 4 seasons from 1955-1958 by a Hebrew University team led by Yigal Yadin. Yadin returned to Hazor for a final season of excavation in 1968. The excavations were supported by James A. de Rothschild, and were published in a dedicated five volume set of books by the Israel Exploration Society.
Excavation at the site by Hebrew University, joined by the Complutense University of Madrid, resumed in 1990. The work is led by Amnon Ben-Tor and continues to the present.
Findings from the dig are housed in a museum at Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar. In 2008, some artifacts in the museum were damaged in an earthquake.