Tel Hatzor, or Tel Hazor, is the largest archaeological park in site in Northern Israel. Located on the Korazim Plateau north of the Sea of Galilee, this UNESCO World Heritage Site was an extremely important city when it was thriving thousands of years ago.
Dating from the Canaanite period, it was on the main transportation route between Babylon and Syria, giving it a central role on the trade routes.
The history of this site begins as far back as the Middle Bronze Age in the 32nd century BC. It was abandoned by the 2nd century BC until archaeological expeditions began near the end of the 19th century.
Hatzor is discussed in the Book of Joshua, and show the biblical accuracy of the account of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan. Joshua 11 discusses him burning Hatzor to the ground. It’s the only city he burned to the ground. Archaeologists have found over 36 inches of charcoal and ash that confirm this story as true.
The Book of Joshua tells us that Jabin was a powerful Canaanite king who led an alliance of nations against Joshua unsuccessfully. Joshua then burnt down the city of Hatzor, which means, “protected by ramparts.” It’s name didn’t help.
There have been Mesopotamian texts uncovered that speak of further texts here. If found they would be an incredibly important find. In 2010, a tablet was dug up from around the 18th century enumerating laws similar to Hammurabi’s Code written in Akkadian cuneiform. Several documents on cuneiform clay tablets have been unearthed in the Upper City with economic and administrative details. It is believed that current digs in the acropolis will reveal many more documents.
Known in the time of Joshua as “the head of all those kingdoms” (Joshua 11:10), the tell is 200 acres, making it the largest in Israel. At one time in history it was also a busy Canaanite fort-city of 20,000 to 40,000 residents. “Tel” means hill, mound or excavation site in Hebrew, and is usually an archaeological site of a hill created by the creation and destruction of multiple cities over millenia.
Tel Hatzor Overview & Highlights
The site is split into the Upper and Lower cities, and is still a current archaeological dig site. Vistors will see active digs happening.
The Upper city is where the main public buildings were located, including the acropolis, or Canaanite Palace, and the Lower city included stables and several temples for worship. A huge ceremonial palace was uncovered in the Upper city, along with drinking vessels, bronze statues and jewelry.
Explore Solomon’s gate, the Canaanite palace, the Israeli citadel, and the settlements and temples of the Lower city. It is recommended to have a guide to make sense of the incredible significance of the site.
Frequently Asked Questions
To find it, head on Route 90, and you will find it at the opposite side of Kibbutz Ayelet HaShachar, on the way to Agamon HaHula Lake.
It is not highly commercialized but is well-organized and well-signed for clear exploration for lovers of history and archaeology.
There doesn’t seem to be much to meet the eye, which is why a tour is important to explain the massive importance of this site.
Entrance to the park closes one hour before cited closing time
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday:
08:00 A.M to 05:00 P.M
Friday and holiday eves: 08:00 A.M to 04:00 P.M
Sunday – Thursday and Saturday: 08:00 A.M to 04:00 P.M
Friday and holiday eves: 08:00 A.M to 03:00 P.M
Holiday Eves: 08:00 A,M to 01:00 P.M
You Kippur Eve: 08:00 A.M to 01:00 P.M