The 26th season of the ‘Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ (License No. G-20/2015) took place in the months of June–July 2015. The excavations are sponsored by the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Biblical Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and by the Israel Exploration Society. The 2015 expedition benefited from the financial assistance of the Selz Foundation (New York), the Edith and Reuben Hecht Fund (Israel) and individual donors. The excavations were directed by A. Ben-Tor, and was assisted by S. Bechar (Area M3 supervisor), N. Paz (Area A9 supervisor), H. Shapira (Area M3 assistant supervisor). Additional assistance was provided by N. Terchov (registration), I. Strand (surveying and drafting), M. Cimadevilla (field photography), I. Strand and O. Cohen (restoration), Y. Sfez (wet sieving and picking) and S. Yadid and E. Ben-Avraham (administration). The expedition numbered some 30 participants from Canada, South Africa, the U.S., Europe, Australia and Israel. The excavation, within the Tel Hazor National Park, was conducted with the full cooperation of the National Parks Authority. The expedition members lodged at Kibbutz Gonen.
The main area of excavation was Area M3, which is the westward extension of the excavations conducted in previous seasons (Fig. 1). Six stratigraphic phases dating from the Iron Age and a seventh level dating from the Late Bronze Age were exposed.
Late Bronze Age.The earliest phase exposed in the area was dated to the Late Bronze Age. Two features were attributed to this phase: a mud-brick collapse, which was exposed in the northwestern corner of the area (Fig. 2); and the upper course of stones of a monumental wall, which is probably part of the Late Bronze Age administrative palace.
Iron Age I. Two architectural features were identified above the Late Bronze Age remains; both are dated to the Iron I based on their stratigraphical context. The first is a corner of a building located in the northwestern corner of the area. This feature was already known in the 2014 season (Ben-Tor, Zuckerman and Bechar 2015). The southern wall of this building is sealed by the casemate wall, which is dated to the tenth century BCE. The eastern wall of this building is cut by the foundation trench of the solid fortification wall dating to the nineth century BCE. A stone built installation abutting these two walls was exposed (Fig. 3). The second feature was located in the southwestern corner of the area. It is a round installation which includes a pair of grinding stones—an upper and a lower one—made of basalt. Like the corner of the building, this installation was below the foundation level of the casemate wall (Fig. 4), and is therefore dated to the Iron Age I.
Tenth Century BCE – The Complex of Standing Stones (‘Mazzevot’). What seems to be the northwestern corner of this complex, first exposed in the 2011 season (Bechar 2012), and a fourth standing stone, made of basalt, were exposed in the southeastern part of the area (Fig. 5).
Ninth Century BCE – The Three-Hall Structure. Two three-hall buildings, which probably functioned as storage facilities, were built above the complex of standing stones (Ben-Tor and Zuckerman 2010). The northwestern corner of the northern of the two was uncovered, and two phases were revealed. In the earlier phase, the northern hall had a plastered floor, and the central hall had a packed-earth floor (Fig. 6). In the later phase, the northern hall had a stone-paved floor with a number of round installations incorporated into the pavement (Fig. 7), and the central hall had a packed-earth floor with a round stone installation.
Large fills were excavated to the north and west of this building. The fills seem to comprise discarded refuse from the city at large, but most particularly from the storage buildings. They included a rich assemblage of animal bones, most noteworthy of which were fish, pig, horse and donkey bones, as well as bones with butchering marks.
Eighth Century BCE – Domestic Buildings. Two domestic buildings dated to the eighth century BCE can be attributed to the latest phases exposed in the area. The earlier of the two was partially excavated in the 2014 season (Ben-Tor, Zuckerman and Bechar 2015), and the remainder of the building was uncovered in the 2015 season. It had a packed-earth floors, and its outer walls were built directly on top of the walls of the storage building. The later building was almost completely uncovered in the 2014 season. Its southeastern room with a packed-earth floor was exposed this year.