Large 3,500-Year-Old Staircase From Canaanite Palace Discovered in Galilee

photo credit: THE KEREN ZELTS EXCAVATIONS AT HAZOR IN MEMORY OF YIGAEL YADIN
THE KEREN ZELTS EXCAVATIONS AT HAZOR IN MEMORY OF YIGAEL YADIN

TEL AVIV – A large 3,500-year-old staircase has been discovered in Israel’s Upper Galilee region at the Tel Hazor excavation site and is believed to have been part of the Canaanite Hazor kingdom that was famously conquered by the Israelites, as recounted in the book of Joshua. 

According to the archaeologist leading the excavation, Dr. Shlomit Bechar of the Hebrew University, the stairs are proof of the “power” of Hazor’s kingdom.

A view of the seven 3,500 years-old basalt stairs discovered at the Tel Hazor excavation site in 2019 by Hebrew University Prof. Amnon Ben-Tur and Dr. Shlomit Bechar.

 (Credit: THE KEREN ZELTS EXCAVATIONS AT HAZOR IN MEMORY OF YIGAEL YADIN)

“We knew for sure that Hazor’s palace — the biggest and most important Canaanite city in the south of the Levant — will be architecturally impressive,” said Bechar, and added, “but this staircase is unique and impressive and suggests what kind of grandeur we are yet to discover.”

Professor Amnon Ben-Tor and Doctor Shlomit Behcar at the archeological site at Tel Hazor (Credit: John Rinks)

Hebrew University Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor and Dr. Shlomit Bechar at Tel Hazor. (John Rinks)

The staircase, which is extremely well-preserved, is 15 feet wide and in its current form comprises seven basalt stairs thought to lead to the palace’s front entrance. The rest of the stairs have yet to be unearthed.

The walls of the palace reach seven feet high.

The Selz Foundation Hazor Excavations in Memory of Yigael Yadin

 (Credit: THE KEREN ZELTS EXCAVATIONS AT HAZOR IN MEMORY OF YIGAEL YADIN)

“This is exactly the palace that, if you were to go by the biblical narrative, would have been conquered by the Israelites,” Bechar said.

Some 90 people assisted in the excavations, among them a team of students from the Hebrew University’s Institute of Archaeology, a group of students from France and volunteers from the UK, Germany, Spain, the U.S., Canada, Finland, Australia and China.

Other artifacts pointing to the significance and size of the palace were unearthed, including Egyptian scarabs and dozens of enormous basalt vessels.

Tel Hazor National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is open to the public.

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