Tel Hazor is one of the oldest sites in the State of Israel. The archaeological remains found here are evidence of Bronze and Iron Age cultures. Hazor was settled from the late third millennium b.c.e. Tel Hazor is situated in northern Israel, in the foothills of Galilee close to the Hula Valley. It is surrounded by very fertile land, and became the largest and one of the most important cities in the country with a population of between 15,000 and 20,000 inhabitants. Tel Hazor is considered to be the largest biblical archaeological sites ever found in Israel. It is vast, covering an area of about 840 dunams (0.84 sq. km or 208 acres). There has been a settlement on this site for thousands of years and it continues to yield treasures since the site contains so many layers of history. The historical and archaeological importance of Tel Hazor and the preservations of its remains led to it being recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.
Tel Hazor is divided into two main parts, the lower city, that covers 700 dunams (0.7 sq. km. or 0.27 sq. miles) and the upper city, also known as the Acropolis, extending over about 100 dunams (100,000 sq. metres or 0.04 sq. miles). Among the various places of interest, there are Solomon’s Gate, a gateway consisting of six cells and two towers, that has been dated to the time of King Solomon’s rule of the Land of Israel during the tenth century b.c.e. The Canaanite palace contains a ritual altar, the throne room and there is an Israeli fortress on the western side of the Tel that has been attributed to the reign of King Ahab. The highlight of the site, with respect to its structures, is the waterworks containing a shaft 45 metres (148 feet) deep that penetrates through the layers of the earlier city to the bedrock. The purpose of the waterworks, whose construction is also attributed to King Ahab, was to provide the city’s inhabitants with a reliable and constant water supply, during times of siege and times of peace. Apparently, of all the findings at the Tel, eighteen of the inscriptions discovered are the most important and significant at the site. These eighteen inscriptions are of varied and different natures. They include letters, prophesies, dedications, arithmetic teaching and administrative documents but what distinguishes them is the script in which they are written; it is Assyrian cuneiform, the oldest script known to man.
The ancient temples, remains of fortifications, eighteen inscriptions and the rest of the archaeological findings have made Tel Hazor into an unmissable attraction. Tours of the place last from between one and three hours and it is recommended to take them in the spring, autumn and winter. Tel Hazor also has an archaeological museum but it can only be visited in groups by appointment. At the museum you can find a temple and idols, tombstones from the local graves, items imported from neighbouring lands, musical instruments, shells and cosmetics, photographs of the excavations, maps and other fascinating exhibits. The proximity of Tel Hazor to Nahal Rosh Pina offers an excellent hiking trail enabling walkers to view the magnificence of the palaces, ritual sites and monuments of Hazor to the land’s more recent history, when Jewish settlement began in the area. The best time to visit this nature reserve is when the almond trees are in blossom (in winter). The landscape is then at its most spectacular combining nature in bloom, the running water of the stream (Nahal) and the story of draining the swamps of the Hula Valley during the nineteenth century.