My Reconstruction of the Qeiyafa ‘Palace-Fort’

Based on Luke Chandler’s photo. We’ll see how the architectural plans compare to my reconstruction.
I am, of course, reminded by the Lachish Lateral Access Podium palace-fort, which had three stages of construction. The Qeiyafa palace-fort probably will, when further uncovered, be revealed as a Lateral Access Podium structure. The suggestion in the comments at the Chandler post that the Qeiyafa palace-fort is a Bit-Hilani is probably incorrect; these are characterized by their prominent entrances. The plan of the building reminds me of the Omride Megiddo Palace 6000 and the Hazor and Bethsaida LAP structures. In LAP structures, the first floor tended to be filled with storerooms while the residence was located on the second floor. I expect the rooms in the Qeiyafa palace-fort to be interpreted by the excavators as storage facilities, as they sure look like they are from over here.

The Fall of Hazor XIII: Israelites, Sea Peoples, Egyptians, Nearby City-States or Popular Revolt?

The last city at the Lower City of Hazor, Lower City 1A/Upper City XIII, was destroyed with a great and mighty fire. Both Egyptian and Canaanite statues were defaced by the destroyers. According to Israel Finkelstein (TBU, p. 90), Hazor Upper City XIII was destroyed in the mid-13th C BC, since no late 13th Century BC forms were found at the site. This excludes an Israelite cause of Hazor’s destruction since the Israelites were, in Late bronze IIB, nomads, and had not yet even begun to settle by Hazor XIII’s destruction. The Egyptians could not have done it, since they would certainly not have defaced Egyptian statues. No Sea Peoples invasion is mentioned as early as the mid-13th century BC, thus, the Sea Peoples were certainly not the cause of the destruction of Hazor XIII. This leaves us with the ‘popular revolt’ hypothesis and the hypothesis Hazor was conquered by Canaanite armies. While no evidence of weaponry was found in the destruction of Hazor, and the defaced statues are certainly consistent with the idea of a peasant revolt, it is highly unlikely the rebels would burn the city they lived in (!!!). Besides, the most appropriate approach for any army attempting to attack Hazor would be from the southeastern side (near areas P and N in this map), which has been insufficiently excavated to draw any conclusions regarding whether a battle took place there at the destruction of Hazor XIII. After all, Hazor was located on the western end of a series of ‘great powers’ in the Bashano-Syro-Canaanite world which could afford to launch a unified campaign against a city-state, especially one as vulnerable as Hazor (cf. below):

Hazor is in green, the Cities of the Garu (allied with Ashtaroth) are in light purple, Ashtaroth is in Purple, Damascus is in blue and Yenoam (under Damascene influence) is in light blue. The reconstruction is based on the Amarna letters, from the century before Hazor XIII’s destruction. It is clearly not too implausible to imagine an alliance of Ashtaroth and Damascus destroying Hazor, especially since Canaanite city-states were free to expand and maintain territory (cf. the rise of Amurru, Pella’s help in the quelling of the revolt of the cities of the Garu in EA 256). They would likely have no problem with destroying Hazor’s Egyptian statues. Thus, either popular revolt or attack by other Canaanite city-states would be sufficient explanation for the destruction of Hazor XIII.

UPDATE (as of April 5, 2012)- A peasant revolt hypothesis is now considered by me to be more likely than coordinated attack. Many residential areas of the Lower City were not destroyed at the end of Hazor XIII.

Omride Palestine

This blog post is based on Israel Finkelstein’s discussion about Omride architecture in The Bible Unearthed and this article.

Omride Palestine had two capitals: Jezreel and Samaria.

Samaria was the capital for the descendants of the Iron I Israelite oil-and-wine communities. It was necessarily the primary capital of Israel-located on top of a strategic hill on the Shechem-Tul Karm road, defended well by the terrain, which made it near inaccessible for armies and good for control of the hill country while being close to the agricultural wonderland of the Jezreel. However, Samaria’s terrain is bad for keeping any large amount both foreign and domestic military forces. The royal enclosure of the Hill of Shemer had to be walled up with a casemate wall and filled with dirt to a depth of up to 20 ft. in order for there to be any kind of flat surface on top. A second capital would have to be constructed for military purposes: Jezreel.

Jezreel was a mighty walled rectangular enclosure surrounded by a moat and a casemate wall (not the best sort of fortification, but, then, the Omrides had no real enemies and a state to control), enclosing a total 11 acres. It had a six-chambered gate on its south side. There were several settlements before it (including one from the Early Iron IIA, probably founded by the pre-Omride Israelite monarchy), however, none were as well fortified as that of the Omrides. It was, being located on top of a commanding ridge, and was, therefore, used as a watchtower for traffic in and out of the Beth Shean Valley. A road connected it to Jenin, Ibleam, Dothan, and, through an arduous trek up and down a steep hill, Samaria. It was destroyed by Hazael, but, not too long after that, the site was reinhabited.

Hazor was also rebuilt under the Omrides (for chronology, see here and the two 2004 papers by Herzog and Singer Avitz). The city was extraordinarily small, located entirely on the west side of the old Upper City, but fortified with a casemate wall, with a citadel to the W. A moat was dug to the NE. and E. of the city (F&S, pg. 188). The six-chambered gate was built on top of a large fill to keep it more defensible.

Megiddo-Megiddo was not built by the Omrides, but, as Knauf concluded, was built in by the Omrides. While the city, a descendant of the early Iron IIA Megiddo VB (Shishak’s Megiddo) was unfortified, some kind of gate (whether the six-chambered one or not) was established there. A large Omride palace dominated the southern part of the city, and a mix of houses and palaces were built around the city’s perimeter.

Gezer, too, was rebuilt under the Omrides (it had a tinge of “Ephraimite” influence in the 8th C BC-I would expect it to be in Omride hands). Like in the case of Hazor, the new city was far smaller than the old, and, unlike Hazor, probably not even a city, but a well-stocked military fortress. It had a six-chambered gate on its south end.

As for lesser-excavated sites mentioned by Finkelstein:

En Gev, on the E. shore of the Lake of Kinneret, is not yet well-excavated enough to show any but one sign of Omride architecture, but there is a clear possibility it could have been Omride.

Khirbet ‘Atarus, Mesha’s Ataroth, also provides clear indications of Omride architecture, having a moat on at least two of its sides. According to Finkelstein, an Iron IIa cult place was found there by a dig in 2002.

And, now, we come to the most impressive display of probably Omride fortress-making in Moab: Khirbet al-Mudayna on the Wadi et-Thamad! The most likely site for Mesha’s Jahaz (and, consequently, the Biblical Jahaz), the fortress was built on a high, oval hill (not well flattened by fills) and surrounded by a moat. A six-chambered gate (shown by the square) is visible in the NE. corner. It was peacefully captured by Mesha and the fortress continued in use into the early 8th C BC. It was re-founded in the reign of Josiah and was destroyed by the Babylonians.

This architectural pattern, devised by the first centrally organized state paying tribute to no one in all of Palestine’s history, was one which served as a foundation for the State of Israel. It made a separation between regular civilian cities (Shechem, Megiddo, Tell el Fara’ N.) and cities and citadels used by the government (which included moats, fills, casemates, large amounts of space not permanently occupied, and a very small amount of city gates (usually, as at Hazor and probably Gezer, one). The Omride state clearly had an interest in placing fortresses in rebellious areas and on strategic roads.

In the next installment, I shall analyze the Square Temple Mount and compare and contrast it with these Omride architectural parallels.

The Battle of Taanach and Deborah and Barak

The Battle of Taanach (or, as some call, it the Battle of Kedesh) took place near Taanach sometime between the Philistine invasion (1177 BC) and the Philistine capture of Joppa (Judges 5:17), c. 1160 BC.

It appears that the causes of the battle were complaints about the oppression of the Israelite tribes north of the Jezreel by the kingdom of Hazor. Deborah, an Ephraimite female “judge”, holding court between Ramah (Ramallah) and Bethel (el-Bireh), allied with Barak, a man from Kadesh-Naphtali (Tel Qedesh), 33° 6’48″N, 35°32’1″E, possibly to avoid Hazorite taxation of roads (Judges 5:6). YHWH commanded Barak to lead ten armies of Zebulun and Naphtali (not Issachar!) to Mount Tabor. Deborah came with Barak to Kedesh (Tell abu Kadeis/Qudeis in the Jezreel, near 32°33’34″N, 35°12’58″E, Kedesh-Naphtali is far too near to Hazor and is north, not south, of Mount Tabor, Kedesh near Poriya would have made Barak bring men of Issachar, too), to which Barak summoned his 9 armies of men of Zebelun and Naphtali (tribes north of the Kishon not subject to any kingdom other than Hazor). This is archeologically represented by Tell Abu Qudeis, Stratum VIII (Iron IA village, destroyed c. 1140), making it likely this Kedesh Barak then went up to Mount Tabor. The fact Sisera came to the Kishon instead of Tabor before fighting Barak strongly suggests Harosheth-Haggoyim is located south of the Kishon, in the territory of the Megiddo. This would suggest that the kingdom of Hazor had either conquered, occupied, or made a treaty with Megiddo before the battle of Taanach. This would also explain why Deborah, from distant Ephraim, joined Barak on his liberation campaign. A placing of Harosheth-Haggoyim south of the Kishon would be consistent with Adam Zertal’s identification of it with Ahwat in the Aruna pass (Wadi ‘Ara or ‘Nahal Iron), which is possible, but far from certain. The clash between Barak and Sisera took place just north of “Taanach near the waters of Megiddo” (Judges 5:19), about two and a half miles from Kedesh. It ended with Barak chasing the army all the way to Harosheth-Haggoyim.  Sisera escaped to the Oak of Zaanannim, near Kedesh in the Jezreel, where he died. In short, the battle was a first step to the final Israelite destruction of Hazor.