During June–August 2007, the eighteenth season of excavations was conducted at Hazor (License No. G-23/2007). The ‘Selz Foundation Excavations at Hazor in Memory of Yigael Yadin’ were carried out in the Hazor National Park on behalf of the Hebrew University and with the assistance of the Israel Exploration Society. The expedition was headed by A. Ben-Tor and included V. Euvrutis (supervision Area A-2/3), assisted by D. Wineblatt, S. Zuckerman (supervision Area M), assisted by S. Bachar and R. Lavie, D. Porotzky and V. Pirsky (surveying), O. Cohen (conservation), assisted by I. Strand, M. Cimadevilla (photography), D. Sandhouse (office and finds registration) and S. Yadid (administration). A group of students from the Southern Adventist University in the United States (led by M. Hazel) participated in the excavation, as well as volunteers from the United States, Canada, Europe and students of archaeology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Area A-2. The goal of the excavation was to complete the removal of the mud-brick collapse layer that had accumulated on the pebble-paved courtyard north of the palace and to examine the connection between the floor and the Late Bronze Age palace (Fig. 1). The later phase exposed in the area was represented by several pits from Iron I that were dug into the pebble pavement. The courtyard consisted of alternating layers of various sized pebbles and plaster. The later phase of the Bronze Age in the area was represented by a Late Bronze II pit that contained complete pottery vessels characteristic of the period. Overlaying the pebble floor itself was a meager assemblage of potsherds, figurines and small fragments of faience and bone objects that appears to be relatively earlier than the contents of the pit. The straight cut of the pebble floor, c. 1 m from the wall of the northern foundation of the late palace, apparently represented the foundation trench of the palace. The trench itself contained ash, clay bricks, a very large quantity of bones, as well as a considerable amount of pottery fragments that dated from the end of Middle Bronze II until the beginning of Late Bronze I. Noteworthy among the finds in the trench was a model of a liver that bears an inscription, which upon initial examination seems to date to the Early Babylonian period. In the eastern part of the area, the excavation went down below the level of the paved courtyard. In previous seasons, a few remains that dated to Middle Bronze II were exposed here, whereas in the current season a section of a building, dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age, whose thin walls were built of stones, was uncovered. Two phases were discerned in this area and a large number of pottery vessels, some of them intact, including ‘Megiddo’-type vessels, were found. An intact jar whose rim was incorporated in the level of the early floor was also discovered. A large quantity of Early Bronze Age potsherds was uncovered below this level. In previous seasons, a stratum of buildings and potsherds, which dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age, was exposed nearby.
Area A-3. The high western part of the area was excavated after work had been suspended there for several seasons. Stone walls appeared just below surface, preserved to a considerable height. They belonged to dwellings that were partially exposed in previous seasons and now, it will be possible to complete their plans. A large quantity of potsherds was discovered on the floors of the buildings. A preliminary examination of the fragments ascribed them to a slightly earlier phase than the one exposed on the floors from the end of the Iron Age in the adjacent Area M. The bottom part of an Egyptian statue, bearing an inscription, was incorporated as a masonry stone in one of the walls from the Iron Age. It is a benediction-type statue whose exact date in the Bronze Age still needs to be determined.
Area M. The area, already enlarged in the 2006 season, was expanded this season to the south by adding row of three squares. The continuation of the buildings from the Persian period, which had been discovered in the previous season, was exposed in the southern part of the area. The plan of the settlement at this stage included a retaining wall, oriented east–west, which was abutted by the walls of other rooms. A cubicle was incorporated in the retaining wall and several Persian jars were exposed on its floor. The courtyards of the buildings, whose walls were built of particularly large stones, contained several installations, in whose construction dressed basalt slabs in secondary use were incorporated. These finds were similar to the ‘farmhouses’ identified by the Yadin expedition in Area G, in the 1950s.
Below this stratum (probably Stratum II of the Yadin expedition) was a large pavement, which extended across most of the eastern part of the area and abutted a massive wall that delimited it on the east. The opening of a bell-shaped pit lined with stone (depth c. 1.8 m) was set in this pavement. Incorporated in its upper course was the end of a gutter that consisted of three roughly hewn basalt sections, fitted together. The pit was not plastered and its function is unclear.
Upon removal of the pavement, thin walls of Iron Age dwellings that delimited several paved courtyards and residential rooms were exposed throughout the area (Fig. 2). Tabuns and other installations were also recorded. At least three phases, attributed to the end of the Iron Age based on the ceramics, were identified in these buildings. It should be noted that the destruction phase was only discerned in the northwestern part of the area; it continued the phase that had been observed in the same area in previous seasons and was attributed to the campaign of Tiglath-Pileser III (732 BCE).
The tops of at least four rows of dressed limestone columns, sometimes engaged in walls, which were characteristic of Iron Age construction, were identified below the residential buildings throughout the area. Based on the length of the column rows, oriented east–west, it is reasonable to assume that these were public buildings, probably storehouses or stables, attributed to the ninth century BCE.
Restoration and Conservation. The work focused on reconstructing the long wall that delineated the northern side of the palace courtyard. The walls of the palace core eastern façade were in danger of collapse and also received thorough treatment. The southern part of the retaining wall, which bordered the palace courtyard on the east, was built to prevent the courtyard’s collapse into the area on the east (Area A-4). The railroad tracks and tuff fill that were set in place several years ago in an attempt to create a ‘promenade’ around the casemate wall were removed and the southern walls of the gate were supported with stone construction. Likewise, the line indicating the boundary of conservation work was added throughout Area A. The work benefited from funding provided by several foundations, among them the Antiqua Foundation (Geneva), Rosen Foundation (New York), the Reginald and Esme Benjamin Foundation (Australia) and the Hecht Fund (Israel).