Tel Hazor, also Hatzor, present day Tell el-Qedah, is a tell above the site of ancient Hazor. Hazor was an ancient city located in the Upper Galilee, north of the Sea of Galilee, between Ramah and Kadesh, on the high ground overlooking Lake Merom. The expedition to Hazor in the mid-1950s under Yigal Yadin was the most important archaeological excavation undertaken by Israel in its early years of statehood.
It is the largest archaeological site in northern Israel, featuring an upper tell of 30 acres and a lower city of more than 175 acres. In 2005, the remains of Hazor were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO as part of the Biblical Tels - Megiddo, Hazor, Beer Sheba.
During the Egyptian Second Intermediate Period and early New Kingdoms (together running between 18th century BC and 13th century BC), Canaan was an Egyptian vassal state; thus 14th century documents, from the El Amarna archive in Egypt, describe the king of Hazor (in Amarna letters called Hasura), Abdi-Tirshi, as swearing loyalty to the Egyptian Pharaoh. However, EA 148 specifically reports that Hasura's king has gone over to the Habiru who were invading Canaan. In these documents, Hazor is described as an important city in Canaan. Hazor is also mentioned in the Execration texts, that pre-date the Amarna letters, and in 18th century BCE documents found in Mari on the Euphrates River.
The archaeological remains suggest that some time after its destruction, the city of Hazor was rebuilt as a minor village. According to the Books of Kings, the town, along with Megiddo, and Gezer, was later substantially fortified and expanded by Solomon. Like those at Megiddo, and Gezer, the remains at Hazor show that during the Early Iron Age the town gained a highly distinctive six chambered gate, as well as a characteristic style to its administration buildings; archaeologists determined that these constructions at Hazor were built by the same leadership as those at Megiddo and Gezer.
By reference to the Books of Kings, some archaeologists conclude that these remains verify the Biblical account—that they were constructed in the tenth century by King Solomon; others date these structures to the early 9th century BC, during the reign of the Omrides.
The site of Hazor is around 200 acres (0.81 km2) in area, with an upper city making up about 1/8 of that. The upper mound has a height of about 40 meters. Initial soundings were carried out by John Garstang in 1926. Major excavations were conducted for 4 seasons from 1955-1958 by a Hebrew University team led by Yigael Yadin. Yadin returned to Hazor for a final season of excavation in 1968.The excavations were supported by James A. de Rothschild, and were published in a dedicated five volume set of books by the Israel Exploration Society.
Excavation at the site by Hebrew University, joined by the Complutense University of Madrid, resumed in 1990 under Amnon Ben-Tor. Findings from the dig are housed in a museum at Kibbutz Ayelet HaShahar. In 2008, some artifacts in the museum were damaged in an earthquake.