Tel Hazor, תל חצור also known as Tell el-Qedah , تل القضاه is in the Upper Galilee, north of the Galilee Sea, in the southern Hula Valley overlooking Lake Merom. Around 1750 BCE in the Middle Bronze Age ancient Hazor was an important city in the Fertile Crescent and was the largest fortified city in the Israel. The city had commercial ties with Babylon and Syria and imported large quantities of tin for the bronze industry. In the Book of Joshua, Hazor is described as ‘the head of all those kingdoms’ (Josh. 11:10).
Among the important finds are a uniquely impressive water system, a Canaanite palace, and buildings from the Early Israelite period. Tel Hazor is a World Heritage site.
There are six rooms and two towers which date back to the 10th century BCE. The gate is similar to the gates at Gezer and Megiddo which is common to this period. To the south of the gate are the remains of a casemate city wall from the same period which comprises of two parallel walls with a space between them, divided into chambers by partitions. Below the middle room in the southern wing of the gate, the basalt threshold of a Canaanite temple was found.
The ruins of the Canaanite palace are covered by a roof, protecting them from wear. The palace was used by the kings of Hazor in the 14th-13th centuries BCE. A ritual dais was uncovered in the palace, and at the top of the stairs which lead to the entrance there are two giant basalt pillars. A throne room was found in the middle of the palace.
The water system
The water system consists of three parts. The access structure is made of large ashlar blocks. Alongside it is a vertical shaft which has been excavated, which shows the ancient layers of the mound down to the bedrock. The system is 45m deep and the steps are 3m in width which have been carved out of its walls. At of the shaft ends there is a 25m tunnel which slopes diagonally down to the water-bearing deposits. The water system supplied local population with water even during times of drought, without having to draw it from the springs outside the city. Construction of the water system is attributed to the time of King Ahab.
Israelite fortress and altar
The fortress is located west of the upper city and was confined by a 10th century BCE casemate wall. The fortresses were built after this and until the Hellenistic period. The fortress are is attributed to King Ahab. In Ahab’s time, the spaces in the wall were filled in with earth and stones. Later considerable changes were made to the wall in preparation for the invasion of the Assyrian ruler Tiglath Pileser III, but to no avail. Alongside the fortress, a dais from the beginning of the Israelite period has been reconstructed.
Residential building and storeroom from the Israelite period
The buildings, from the 8th century BCE, were originally built over the Canaanite palace and were moved to the northern part of the upper city to conserve them. The residential building is of the four-area type typical of the Israelite period. The other building, which has two rows of pillars, served as a public storeroom.
The passage between the lower city and the upper city
Part of the wall was dismantled to reveal the basalt stairs which, in the Canaanite period, led from the upper to the lower city. From here it is possible to see the remains of a large building, in the center of which is a ritual dais of smooth basalt stones daring to the Late Bronze Age. The surface of the dais is made of a single basalt slab, weighing around two tons. There are four indentations in the center of the slab, perhaps for a throne.
Hazor Antiquities Museum (Ayelet Hashachar)
The museum is situated by the entry gate to the kibbutz, and is a must for every visitor to the tel. The museum showcases fascinating exhibits found at Tel Hazor, including photographs and maps of the excavations, finds from the temples and graves of Canaanite Hazor, imported objects from neighboring countries – Egypt, Cyprus and Crete, and finds from the Israelite period.
Note: Entry to the museum is for groups only, by arrangement with the staff of Tel Hazor National Park.