Looking for the Lost Archives of Hazor, Joshua’s Greatest Conquest https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/history-ideas/2017/03/looking-for-the-lost-archives-of-hazor-joshuas-greatest-conquest/

March 24, 2017 | Marek Dospěl
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In describing the Israelite invasion of Canaan, the book of Joshua gives special attention to the conquest of Hazor, noting that, while Joshua told his troops to leave other defeated cities intact, he ordered Hazor burned. The archaeologists who discovered the ruins of Hazor in the 20th century ascertained that the city had, in fact, been destroyed in a major fire, and around the time the Israelite invasion is thought to have taken place. Marek Dospěl describes the current search for the city’s putative archives:

The book of Joshua and historical documents from the second millennium BCE depict the northern Canaanite city-state of Hazor as the most important urban center in the Southern Levant. The Late Bronze Age city—located on a mound seven miles north of the Sea of Galilee—boasted an impressive acropolis with temple and palace buildings as well as a lower city spread out below. One major discovery remains elusive, however: where are Hazor’s cuneiform archives? . . .

Sometime in the second half of the 13th century BCE, a sudden [calamity befell] the city, leaving behind massive destruction layers. Archaeology provides us with tangible evidence of a violent conflagration: the heat must have been excessive, as it cracked the basalt slabs lining the walls, melted clay vessels, and turned mudbricks into glass. Most scholars now eliminate the Egyptians, the Sea Peoples, and the rival Canaanite city-states as suspects, accepting the claim made in . . . Joshua that it was the Israelites who destroyed Hazor.

A Canaanite city of such importance, argue archaeologists, must have harbored an extensive archive of documents. The late Yigael Yadin, who excavated Tel Hazor in the 1950s and 1960s and was a great proponent of the conquest theory of the Israelite settlement of Canaan, was first to suggest the existence of an archive of cuneiform tablets at Tel Hazor. . . .

So far, no archive has been discovered, but archaeologists are confident that it is just a matter of time before their long-held hopes come true. To be sure, a royal archive of a prominent Canaanite city-state would greatly expand our knowledge of the Levantine societies in the final stages of the Bronze Age. Two kinds of archaeological finds from Tel Hazor deserve mentioning here in support of the enthusiastic expectations: isolated discoveries of cuneiform clay tablets and numerous fragments of Egyptian statuary.

Read more on Bible History Daily: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/ancient-cultures/ancient-israel/royal-archives-tel-hazor/

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