Dig Spotlight: Hazor, Head of All Those Kingdoms
And Joshua at that time turned back, and took Hazor, and
smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime
was the head of all those kingdoms.
-- Joshua 11:10
Among all the ancient biblical excavation sites in Israel, Hazor is hands down the largest. Spanning 200 acres, the population of this city in the second millennium B.C. was approximately 20,000, which, for its time, made it the largest and most significant city in what was then known as ancient Canaan. Strategically located along the route connecting Babylon and Egypt, it figured prominently in ancient texts of both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Joshua's conquest of Hazor led the way for settlement of the Israelites in Canaan, and the city was rebuilt and fortified by King Solomon and prospered until its destruction by the Assyrians in 732 BCE. Evidence of the violent destruction was discovered in various excavation areas of the site.
If you are after sheer magnitude, few sites can match the experience. Under the direction of Professor Amnon Ben-Tor of the Hebrew University, an international team of scholars, students and volunteers will be investigating a monumental Bronze Age Canaanite palace and its associated fortifications at this location this summer. Dig participants will be staying in the air conditioned ETAP Hotel (a hotel!), and opportunities to visit other significant archaeological sites in Israel will be available. If you are interested in additional information, go to the Hazor excavations website, where you will also find application instructions.
Books to read on the subject:
Books about Hazor
The Archaeology of Ancient Israel , by Amnon Ben-Tor.
The Virtual Dig
If you are like me, you don't have the luxury of the time and money to pack up very often and head off to that dig that catches your fancy. Or, perhaps you don't like the physical wear-and-tear or the thought of "roughing it" on a dig. But, going on a dig once a year or once every several years or perhaps not at all doesn't seem to gratify the ever-present "digging" bug, if you know what I mean. So, here's a solution: the virtual dig. While waiting or hoping for that opportunity to become reality, you can visit a site that will, at least electronically, "take you there".
If you want a good education on what it is like to be on a paleoanthropological dig, by far one of the finest virtual field schools in existence can be found here with the Smithsonian institution. Try it, and you'll know what I mean. Another excellent site is Archaeology magazine's interactive dig site. You'll find scores of different interactive digs from which to choose. The most recent interactive dig details the work being conducted at the ancient site of Hierakonpolis in Egypt, where the project participants are exploring the foundations of Egyptian civilization. Go here to see the site for yourself and get a taste for these interactive digs.
Thank goodness for the cyberworld!
P.S.: Speaking of us "in-between-digs" or "dig wannabee" armchair diggers: If you are interested, and you do not have a subscription, you can subscribe to Archaeology magazine and gain access to tons more information about what's happening in the world of archaeology. Part of the proceeds that come from the purchase of the magazine support archaeological research and education under the aegis of the Archaeological Institute of America. Archaeology Odyssey magazine, which focuses more on the ancient civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean, is equally informative.