Hazor was one of the largest and most influential city-states in Canaan during the Bronze Age, particularly between about 1850 and 1200 B.C.E. The city is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (
Even today the large fortification rampart, which surrounded the city in this era, is still clearly protruding in the erased landscape on which the city was established. This defensive rampart was necessary to protect Hazor during what was an unsettled time in international politics. In this era, Canaan often became a battlefield in the power struggle between Egypt in the south and the Mitannians and Hittites in the north. In the latter part of the Bronze Age, the Canaanite city-states were under Egyptian domination. Consequently the region was exploited for resources and taxes to support the Egyptian armies on their way through the country. In this political environment, Hazor managed quite well not only because of its great fortifications but also because of its tactful approach toward both the northern and southern powers, which can be seen in the use of both Egyptian and Mesopotamian materials in the royal quarters of the city. This tactful stance is also indicated in documents that reveal Hazor’s membership in group of Canaanite city-states that were loyal to the Egyptian pharaoh. This diplomatic attitude was necessary for Hazor to maintain its position in international trade relations, in which the city held an important position as a trade node. This trade, in combination with the fertile hinterland that fed the population at Hazor, provides the key to understanding the city’s wealth.
Hazor declined at the end of the Bronze Age, as can be seen in the deteriorating buildings from the archaeological layers of this period. The city’s final destruction a few decades later was violent and is still shrouded in mystery. Scholars have numerous suggestions for who was responsible: the Egyptians, the Sea Peoples, another Canaanite city, the early Israelites, or revolutionary native inhabitants are all possible perpetrators. However, the breakdown may be related to the collapse of the majority of cities in the eastern Mediterranean at this time. This will probably continue to be an unsolved question, unless excavations reveal an archive with an account of events.
- Ben-Tor, Amnon, and Maria Teresa Rubiato. “Excavating Hazor Part Two: Did the Israelites Destroy the Canaanite City?” Biblical Archaeology Review 25 (May–June 1999): 22-39.
- Hesse, Kristina Josephson. Contacts and Trade at Late Bronze Age Hazor: Aspects of Intercultural Relations and Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean. Ph.D. diss., Umeå University, 2008.
- Yadin, Yigael. Hazor: The Rediscovery of a Great Citadel of the Bible. London: Random House, 1975.