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.
Canaanite Hazor --
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; thus 14th century documents, 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 has gone 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. According to the
Book of Judges Hazor was the seat of Jabin, 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.
Some archaeologists believe that the Israelites 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
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 civilisation across the whole eastern Mediterranean in the
Late Bronze Age.
This view is disputed by recent archaeological dig there. Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor (Institute of Archaeology, The
Hebrew University) who is in charge believes that evidence of this violent destruction by burning was
discovered in various areas of excavation of the site.
Israelite Hazor --
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
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
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 1/8th of that. The
upper mound has a height of about 40 meters. Initial soundings at Tell el-Qedah were done by John Garstang in
In modern times, major excavations were conducted for 4 seasons from 1955-1958 by a Hebrew University team led
by Yadin Yigael.    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 form the dig are housed in a museum at Ayelet HaShahar. In 2008, artifacts in the museum were damaged
in an earthquake.