Holy Land Pilgrimage and Biblical Archeology



"Joshua turned back at that time, and took Hazor, and
struck its king down with the sword. Before that time,
          JOSHUA 11               

Holy Sites -- Gila's Highlights

Let's look for the clay tablet treasure at Hazor

Are you tantalized by a treasure hunt?

Many wannabe archeologists have been drawn by the lure of buried treasure.  Perhaps the prime example is Montague Parker who established a company in the early 20th century by promising his investors that he would divvy up the soon-to-be-found holy land treasure among them.  He claimed that Solomon appeared to him during a séance and revealed the site of the loot which included David’s sword, Solomon’s crown, the original tablets of the Ten Commandments and the Ark of the Covenant.

By bribing one of the Moslem guards, Parker attempted a nighttime dig under the carpets of the El Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  It wasn’t long though, before the guard got sick and was replaced by his cousin who was more scrupulous.  When word got out that an infidel was digging under the sacred mosque, Parker and his men had to flee for their lives.  Riots ensued not only throughout Palestine, but from Istanbul, all the way to India!
But that lure of buried treasure still beckons us.  For example, archeologist Aren Meir, who is digging at Gath, Goliath’s hometown, hasn’t yet found the giant’s sword.  But, he has found an inscription with Goliath’s name, he claims.  (Or at least similar to Goliath’s name.)  The pottery shard boasts the oldest Philistine inscription ever found and dates back to around 950 B.C., within 70 years of when modern biblical chronology asserts David confronted Goliath with his shepherd’s sling.  (By the way, the authentic sling hasn’t been found yet either, but the traditional sling you can buy online at my gift shop!)

Temple or palace of Canaanite King Jabin

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

View of the Canaanite temple/palace of biblical King Jabin 2008


Gila standing by the entrance to the Canaanite palace in January 2022

Photo courtesy of Sue Kemmerline (on tour with Gila January 2022)

Gila standing by the entrance to the Canaanite palace in January 2022

At Hazor, north of the Sea of Galilee, archeologist Amnon Ben Tor has unearthed a Canaanite temple burned by Joshua (11:13).  “But Israel burned none of the towns that stood on mounds, except Hazor, which Joshua did burn.”  In the level of the late 13th century B.C., Ben Tor found over three feet of charcoal and ash, evidence of a raging fire of 1300 degrees centigrade.

Hazor's Canaanite palace-temple was destroyed in a fire of 1300 degrees C

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

The black ash on the mud-brick is evidence of what Ben Tor calls
the "mother of all destructions" -- a raging fire of 1300 degrees C


Evidence of the "mother of all destructions" at Hazor's Canaanite palace-temple

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Note the burnt mud-bricks in the Canaanite palace in the lower part of the photo


Gila is about to show the burnt mud-bricks to her January 2022 group

Photo courtesy of Sue Kemmerline (on tour with Gila January 2022)

Gila is about to show the burnt mud-bricks to her January 2022 group

In the time of Joshua, Hazor was the most powerful city in Canaan.  It was a mighty trading center on the international highway, whose political and economic influence stretched from the Nile to the Euphrates.  Five centuries before Joshua, in the 18th century B.C, Hazor is mentioned in the earliest clay documents we have, as a major player in the import of tin from Turkey used in manufacturing bronze in Egypt.

Hazor is strategically located on the Via Maris leading to Damascus

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

From Hazor one can see snow-lined Mt Hermon in the distance

What Ben Tor is dying to discover at Hazor is the royal archive of King Jabin (Joshua 11:1) and his predecessors.  Over a decade ago, in the fall of 1996, I participated in a one-day seminar for guides at Hazor.  Ben Tor showed us the ruins of what he thought then was the palace, now believed to be a temple and pointed to where he believed he would find the royal archive the following summer.  He had just found four inscribed clay tablets and expected to find a whole lot more.

Antiquities conservationist Orna Cohen restoring the ancient entrance to the Canaanite temple

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Antiquities conservationist Orna Cohen at the entrance to the Canaanite temple

“The search for an ancient archive in Israel has been a lot like the search for oil here,” said Amnon Ben Tor in an interview with The Jerusalem Report.  “Every country in the region seems to have it but us, and we keep finding signs of it, but never strike a gusher.”
An archive of official documents discovered at Hazor would illuminate Hazor’s golden age until its destruction by Joshua and it would expand our knowledge of the biblical world.  There’s no doubt that there was a scribal school at Hazor, for clay tablets sent from Hazor were found in both Egypt and Mesopotamia.  Some archeologists say that the discovery of an archive at Hazor would be as sensational as the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The mystery of the location of the Hazor clay archive

Photo:  Sister Clare Sweeney

Gila sharing her view on the mystery of the clay tablet treasure

And so the search goes on.  Today the Canaanite building, with its charred cedar beams and inlaid basalt stone panels, is identified as a temple.  And now there’s the next new idea of where King Jabin’s palace once stood, waiting to be tested by the archeologist’s spade.  Come with me to Hazor on your next pilgrimage and we’ll read about Joshua’s conquest and… speculate about where the tablet treasure lies buried.

New excavated area -- perhaps this is Jabin's palace!?

Photo:  Gila Yudkin

Perhaps the elusive Hazor archive will be discovered under these stones!


Copyright 2008, 2010 Gila Yudkin.  Permission needed for any reuse.


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Gila Yudkin, who calls herself “a former Connecticut Yankee transplanted to King David’s court,” loves mysteries, especially biblical ones.  Since she studied to be a guide in 1977, 90% of what she learned in archeology has been proven to be “false.” She’s constantly updating herself and participants on her tours.  Gila relishes demonstrating at ancient sites how archeology has enlightened us in our understanding of the biblical text.

Although Jerusalem's Temple Mount hasn't been excavated (yet!), you can tour Mount Moriah in the company of Abraham and Isaac, David and Solomon, Jesus and the disciples and Mohammed and Gabriel with itsGila's one-hour Temple Mount audio tour.

More Biblical Archeology:

Let's visit Gezer, Solomon's wedding gift

Let's see where the Priestly Benediction was found

Let's follow Abraham all the way to DAN

Gezer / Solomon's dowry   

Priestly Blessing

Dan / Mud-brick gate

Let's ramble through Hippos, a Decapolis city

Let's saunter through Solomon's Stables at Megiddo

Let's inspect the ancient scroll of Isaiah

Hippos / Decapolis city     

Megiddo / Solomon's stables

 Dead Sea Scrolls




Copyright © 2005-2024 Gila Yudkin. All rights reserved.
Holy Land Photography by Gila Yudkin