An Enormous Staircase from a Canaanite Palace Found in Northern Israel

July 29 2019

Not long after entering the land of Canaan, according to the book of Joshua, the Israelites sacked the city of Hazor, whose king exercised power over other local potentates. The celebrated general-cum-archaeologist Yigael Yadin first excavated the city’s ruins in the 1950s, but the site continues to be studied. A recent dig unearthed a gigantic basalt staircase from the Canaanite period, thought to be part of a palace complex. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

Located north of the Sea of Galilee on a trade route connecting Egypt and Babylon, Hazor was [among] the largest biblical-era sites in Israel. With an estimated population of 20,000, its size and strategic location made it an important city in antiquity. After its fiery destruction, it was rebuilt by the Israelites, perhaps by King Solomon. Several hundred years later, the Israelite settlement was destroyed by the Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III in 732 BCE.

[T]he remains of the last Israelite settlement of Hazor were also uncovered this year, including a considerable quantity of shattered pottery vessels — evidence of its destruction.

[The excavation’s co-director Shlomit] Bechar said that while the stairs, strangely modern in appearance, are grand in their own right, it is quite possible that they are not the staircase into the [main] palace but rather lead to another courtyard, which could then lead to another large staircase.

Alongside the finely worked black stone steps, there is also significant archaeological evidence of the large conflagration that destroyed the Canaanite settlement. Bechar said the building, constructed in the 13th century BCE, existed for 200 to 250 years.

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More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Canaanites, Joshua


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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Election 2019, Israeli politics