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The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Prehistoric Archaeology
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Prof. Amihai Mazar

Ph.D. 1976, Hebrew University

Main research interests:

  • The archaeology of Israel and its neighbors in the Bronze and Iron Ages.
  • The relationship between archaeology and biblical history.
  • Ancient Near Eastern art and architecture.
  • Historical geography of the biblical period.

Main ongoing projects:

The Beth Shean Valley Archaeological Project. This regional project includes the publication of the Tel Beth Sheen excavations (1989-1996), ongoing excavations at Tel Rehov, and publication of Tel Rehov excavations.

Detaled description of research project
The Beth Shean Valley Archaeological Project (link to

The Beth Shean Valley is a fertile region that was densely inhabited in antiquity, scattered with numerous mounds and other sites. This regional project included excavations at two major sites in the Beth Shean Valley, Tel Beth Shean (carried out during the years 1989-1996) excavations at tel Rehov (ongoing since 1997) as well as a partial archaeological survey of the valley and synthesis of its occupational history in the Bronze and Iron Ages.

Tel Beth Shean

The high mound of Beth Shean dominates the fertile Beth Shean Valley at the junction of the Jezreel and Jordan Valleys. From earliest times, this region has been a strategic crossroads linking the Mediterranean coast with Transjordan, and the southern part of Israel with the Syro-Mespotamian world. Some four thousand years of history have been traced at Beth Shean, making it one of the important archaeological sites in Israel.
Beth Shean was first investigated on a large scale by the University of Pennsylvania expedition from 1921 to 1933, during which time important discoveries were made, mainly regarding the three hundred years of Egyptian rule in Canaan (ca. 1450 to 1150 BCE). Among the finds was the largest group of Egyptian monuments ever found in the Land of Israel. In 1983 Y. Yadin and S. Geva of the Hebrew University conducted a small-scale excavation at the site.
Nine seasons excavations seasons were carried out the mound from 1989 to 1996 under the direction of Prof. Amihai Mazar in the framework of the large-scale archaeological project at Beth Shean, initiated by the Beth Shean Tourism Organization. The work was carried out in six excavation areas and enabled reexamination of the results of the previous expedition and the achievement of more precise results, utilizing modern research methods. Among the new discoveries were an exceptional public building from the Early Bronze I period; Canaanite dwelling quarters of the second millenniun BCE (Middle and Late BronzeAges); a dwelling quarter which served the Egyptian garrison of the 19th-20th Dynasties; reexamination of the Egyptian Residency of the 20th Dynasty and the excavation of an administrative building of the 19th Dynasty below it; remains of the Iron Age I Canaanite city constructed after termination of the Egyptian presence at Beth Shean; remains of administrative structures dated to the 10th-9th centuries; and a large dwelling house of the Iron Age II period which was destroyed with the rest of the city during the Assyrian conquest in 732 BCE. Remains from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Early Arab and Medieval periods were also revealed.
The main effots during recent years were in the final publication of the excavations, resulting in four volumes:

Mazar, A. Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean 1989 -1996, Volume I. From the Late Bronze Age IIB to the Medieval Period. Jerusalem 2006.

Mazar, A. and Mullins, R. (editors), Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean 1989 -1996, Volume II: The Middle and Late Bronze Age Strata in Area R. Jerusalem 2007.

Panitz-Cohen, N. and Mazar, A. (editors), Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean 1989 -1996, Volume III: The 13th-11th centuries BCE (Areas S and N). Jerusalem 2009.

Mazar, A. and Rotem Y. (editors) Excavations at Tel Beth-Shean 1989 -1996, Volume IV: The Fourth and Third Millennia BCE. Jerusalem (in press).

Tel Rehov

Tel Rehov is the largest Canaanite and Israelite site in the Beth Shean. The town is mentioned in several Egyptian sources of the New Kingdom (15th-12th centuries BCE) as well as in the list of cities conquered by Shoshenq I. Although it is not mentioned in the Bible, there is no doubt that it was a major city during the premonarchic and monarchic periods.
Nine excavation seasons xince 1997 until 2010 supported by Mr. John Camp (Minnesota, USA) have revealed successive occupational layers from the Early Bronze, Late Bronze Age and Iron Ages. The Early Bronze Age is represented by a massive city wall and earth rampart found on the upper mound. The Late Bronze Age is represented by several occupation layers, most noteworthy are the remains of a large mubrick building with buttresses and thick constructional fill which may have been part of a public building of some sort. Several Iron Age I occupation layers are evidence for continuity of the urban nature of the city throughout the 12th-11th centuries BCE. The most widely exposed strata are dated to the Iron IIa (10th-9th centuries BCE; the time of the United Monarchy of David and Solomon and the Divided Monarchy under Omri and Ahab). Private dwellings, an open air sanctuary and other structures from this period yielded a wealth of finds which turn Tel Rehov to one of the most important sites from this period in Israel. An exceptional discovery is the industrial apiary, so far the only one of its kind ever found in an archaeolgiocal excavation. Remains of the Iron Age IIb city, which was violently destroyed by the Assyrians in 732 BCE, include an eight-meter-wide mudbrick wall surrounding the higher part of the mound. Evidence of the Assyrian slaughter was found in the destroyed houses of the 8th century BCE and burials with Assyrian objects are evidence for some Assyrian presence at the site following the conquest.

For additional details and publications in PDF format see

Curriculum Vitae
Selected List of Publications