Tel Hazor is the largest and most important Canaanite site in Israel, encompassing an area of over 80 ha. In the second millennium BCE the city was comprised of an upper city (the acropolis) and a lower city. Ancient records show that the city was considered the southern-most Syrian urban center during the Bronze Age. The name of the city appears in kings lists of Thutmose III, Amenhotep II, and Seti I as well as in Papyrus Anastasi I, among others. It is the only city mentioned in the Mari archive of the Middle Bronze Age and considered a “great power” in the Amarna archive of the Late Bronze Age. It is also mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible.

The University of Haifa’s excavations at Hazor focus on the lower city of the site. This area was previously excavated by Yigael Yadin in the 1950s. Yadin, one of the forefathers of Israeli archaeology, uncovered temples, domestic units, workshops, and cultic spaces, as well as a large fortification system which included gates and a massive rampart. After a hiatus of several decades, excavations in the lower city were renewed by Sharon Zuckerman in a small area in the center of the lower city. This excavation was aimed at exposing domestic units of Hazor.

Both these expeditions made important contributions to our knowledge of the Bronze Age, in regards to urban planning, ceramic typologies, the connections between the southern and northern Levant, the connections of the site to Egypt, and much more. However, many questions are still open, such as who were the people that lived in the lower city of Hazor? Were they simple people or were they also predominantly elites? What was the urban plan of the site? How did people live at the site? What did they eat? Where did they work? How were their houses organized? The University of Haifa’s excavations at Hazor focuses on both domestic and monumental architecture. The aim of this excavation will be to identify differences between the various sectors of the population that lived at Hazor.

The excavations are directed by Dr. Shlomit Bechar (University of Haifa).