Area M. Work in this area continued in the same squares excavated in previous seasons. The goals of this season were to complete the excavation of the public structures dating to the ninth century BCE and to begin uncovering the earlier strata underlying them. The remains uncovered this year belong mostly to the earliest phases of the Iron Age settlement in Area M, which are dated to the ninth century BCE (Fig. 1).
Following the dismantling of the remaining thin walls attributed to the domestic structures of the eighth century BCE, the nature of Area M in the earliest phase of the Iron Age in this part of the site was revealed. The latest features in the area are the two rounded silos, discovered in the 1991–2 seasons, which were cleared during this season (Fig. 1). The two silos, filled with carbonized grain seeds, clearly cut into the wide walls of the earlier phase (see below) and should thus be attributed to the eighth century BCE.
The whole area is divided by seven parallel wide walls (width of each c. 1m), running from west to east (Fig. 1). It appears that these walls belong to two large buildings, similar in plan to the Three-Hall Structures, known from Yadin’s excavations and the renewed excavations in Area A2. The two buildings share a common wall in whose center was a wide entrance (width c. 4 m); thus, an administrative complex of unparalleled size at Hazor and elsewhere can be reconstructed here. The partition walls in the two structures consisted of a foundation wall, overlaid with limestone pillars, only half of which were found in situ. The rest were reused by the builders of the domestic structures in the succeeding strata in the area.
Two phases were discerned in the pillared Three-Hall Structures. Plastered floors, preserved in several of the halls and probably also in the others, characterize the original phase of the buildings, which served as public storage facilities. Several pithoi and remnants of other large clay containers were found in buildings of the same plan, uncovered in a previous season to the south of Area M. A few thin dividing walls were built in the later phase between the pillars and the outer walls of the structures. Some ovens and other installations were found, indicating a change in the function of the buildings, which probably served in a domestic capacity in this later phase.
A contemporary feature was identified in the southernmost part of the area, outside the southern wall of the southern Three-Hall Structure. This area consisted of several working surfaces and installations. Noteworthy among the finds were several basalt bowls and potter’s wheels, in different phases of production. Many basalt chips were found throughout this area, supporting the interpretation that it should be seen as a ninth century BCE workshop of basalt objects, the first of its kind in Iron-Age Eretz Israel. Other finds in this area included several objects relating to weaving activities, such as spindle whorls and more than a dozen loom-weights, found in situ in the westernmost part of the area.
In addition to a considerable number of restorable pottery vessels and potsherds in Area M, the main finds include two cosmetic bowls of bone and soft stone, metal objects, beads and clay figurines.
Immediately below the walls and floors of the Three-Hall Structures, Late Bronze Age remains were discovered (Fig. 2). These consisted of fallen and burnt mud-brick layers that sealed several walls built of large and coarsely worked limestone boulders. Part of a large structure was exposed in the northern part of the area. It consisted of a row of stone bases in its center and fallen elongated stones to the south of this row. The function of this structure and the nature of this phase, as well as its relation to the Podium Complex, discovered on a much lower level to its north, are yet to be defined.
A clay tablet, inscribed in cuneiform and dated by style and orthography to the Old Babylonian period, was discovered on the surface, between Areas A and M. The subject of the inscription is a code of law. Prof. Wayne Horowitz of the Hebrew University and his team are preparing the tablet for publication.
Restoration and Conservation
The main restoration effort of this season centered in the area north of the six-chambered gate and in Area M68.
The southern edge of both walls of the first casemate, to the north of the six-chambered gate, were already uncovered by Yadin’s team in the 1950s and cleared by the renewed excavation team in 1991. The walls were further cleared this season and a large segment of the casemate was defined. Following the delineation of the original casemate walls, they were restored to six courses high (Fig. 3).
The walls of the southern casemate in Area M68 were also cleaned and restored to a similar height.