Five people from Southern, headed by Michael Hasel, professor of Near Eastern Studies and Archaeology and Director of the Institute of Archaeology, took part in an archaeological dig in Israel from Sept. 15-20. They joined a larger team from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Haifa University.
The object of their excavations was the lower city gate at Tel Hazor.
“Hazor is the most important and largest site in Canaanite Israel,” Hasel said. “It is mentioned frequently in the Old Testament; it is the most important site that the Bible describes being destroyed in the conquest of Joshua.”
Katherine Hesler, Southern archaeology alumna who attended the dig, was excited about this spot.
“This site, Hazor, was a large, important city in antiquity. So, it’s a really awesome site with tons of amazing finds,” she said. “So it would probably be crazy as an archaeologist to turn down a chance to dig there at least once.”
Half of the gate had been previously excavated in the 1950s.
“This was an exploratory project to see whether we might want to consider this as a training ground for our archaeology students and other Southern students,” Hasel said.
The lower city itself is 180 acres, huge for an ancient city. Gates served an important role. City leaders, elders and other important figures conducted business there.
Juan Mora, a Southern alumnus who is studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was a part of the dig and is a firm believer in its importance.
“[It provides] students the opportunity to receive training in field methodology,” he said. “It also shows that Southern’s previous work at Tel Lachish and Khirbet Qeiyafa was well received by the archaeology community since the Hebrew University invited Southern again.”
“Southern is one of the only archaeology programs actively working in Israel.” Hasel said. “[And] we’re one of the few American institutions that have co-directed projects in Israel.”
Archaeology students are not the only ones who can join future digs.
Hasel said, “Final decisions have not been made at this point, but those interested can contact the Institute of Archaeology.”
In the eyes of Christians, Biblical lands have always been important hubs for excavation, and Southern strives to play a large part in their scientific exploration.