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Eilat Mazar


The interior of the tomb, with its fine ashlar construction and gabled roof. Pictured is Ditza Shmuel.

Tel Achziv is located on the northern coast of Israel, 15km north of Acre and 25km south of Tyre. In antiquity the tell was a large settlement in southern Phoenicia, inhabited from the Middle Bronze Age IIB through the Crusader period. Achziv is mentioned in the Bible as one of the cities that the tribe of Asher did not inherit. From Assyrian sources we learn that Achziv was conquered by Sennacherib in his third campaign to Phoenicia in 701 BCE. A maritime city named Cziv is mentioned by Josephus Flavius, and later by Eusebius as a city located nine miles north of Acre. During the Crusader period, the site was referred to as Casle Umberti.

A terra cotta female mask among other burial gifts in situ during the excavation of the tomb in 2002.

A painted Cypriot krater, one of relatively few imported vessels found in the tomb.

A fish amulet from the tomb.

The archaeological excavations that have been conducted from the 1940s to present on the largely unexcavated tell and primarily in its close vicinity have uncovered four cemeteries associated with the Phoenician settlement. Three large cemeteries, their full size yet unknown, are located at some distance to the north, east, and south of the tell. A small cemetery was also found on the tell itself. The first excavations were held in 1941-1944 by Dr. Immanuel Ben-Dor in the southern and the eastern cemeteries. He was followed by Dr. Moshe Prausnitz, who conducted five small-scale excavation seasons on the tell and in the four cemeteries, between the years 1958-1980. The 1984 season in the northern cemetery was conducted by Prausnitz together with Eilat Mazar, who continued to excavate Achziv on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem for eight more seasons from 1988 to present-four seasons in the southern cemetery and four in the northern.

The burial customs practiced at Achziv are quite varied. The excavations unearthed built tombs, rock-cut shaft tombs, round graves, pit graves, burials in pottery vessels, and cremation burials. The tombs revealed a very distinctive chronological typology: the earliest burials found so far date to the eleventh century BCE and are attributed to the built tombs type, while new type of shaft tomb appeared at the end of the tenth century BCE, first with a stone-built ceiling and later, at the beginning of the ninth century, with an entirely hewn ceiling. All of these tombs were found rich in burials gifts, including pottery vessels, jewelry, and figurines.

A unique phenomenon was found in the northern cemetery. It seems that sometime at the end of the tenth century BCE, it was converted for use as a cemetery for the interment of cremated remains. A large round crematorium was found at the site, with dozens of urns buried around it. It seems that adults only were cremated, as no remains of children have been found in the many urns uncovered. Furthermore, in contrast to the large amount of burial gifts interred together with the inhumed remains in the tombs, cremated remains were buried unaccompanied by burial gifts.

Two volumes of the final report of Mazar's excavations have been published so far in the Cuadernos de Arqueología Mediterránea. The first volume (2001) includes data relating to the southern cemetery. The second (2004) is on the stone-built family tomb found in the northern cemetery. The third volume will include all findings related to the crematorium at the northern cemetery.

A terra cotta donkey figurine, reminiscent of horseman figures found in a tomb at the southern cemetery of Achziv.

A red slipped trefoil-rim jug from the tomb.