Hazor, “the head of all those kingdoms,” has a unique place in Biblical Archaeology. It is the largest tell in the Southern Levant, and a city-state whose importance resonated throughout the Middle and Late Bronze Ages.
Hazor is also specifically named in the Book of Joshua as one of the enemies of the Israelites. Since the pioneering excavations at Hazor during the 1950s and 1960s, the question of ‘who destroyed Hazor’ has tantalized scholars and lay people. The renewed excavations directed by Ben-Tor have added greatly to our understanding of the site and have brought to light an enormous Late Bronze Age “Ceremonial Palace” in the Upper City.
But is it really a palace and does the identification matter for our understanding of the Joshua narrative? Ben-Tor’s student and co-director, Dr. Sharon Zuckerman, disagrees. She believes the Late Bronze Age building is actually a temple, built in an area used over many centuries for religious activities. Either way, the building was destroyed in an immense conflagration at the end of the Late Bronze Age and the area was never reused for temples or palaces. (more…)