David Ben-Shlomo

The Azor Cemetery: Moshe Dothan's Excavations, 1958 and 1960

Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2012


Tel Azor is located approximately 6 km southeast of Tel Aviv–Jaffa (Fig. 1.1), on the road to Jerusalem (map ref. OIG 13158/15926; NIG 18158/65926), in the midst of a densely populated region. Today the main excavation area (Area D) lies near a modern cemetery and a mosque; another area (Area B) was located in a quarry. The site of Azor lies about 6 km east of the Mediterranean coast and is located on Hamra soil; 2-3 km to the north and west are the inner kurkar ridges. ‘Pararendzina’ soil type available to the west and north of the site (Dan et al. 1972:35). The climate and vegetation of this region is typical of the lowland Mediterranean zone and coastal dune area and coastal plain.

Archaeological remains at the site are dispersed over a relatively large area, underlying the modern towns of Azor and Ḥolon (particularly its industrial area). The city is a typical example of the conflict between modern urbanism and thepreservation of ancient remains, where no systematic large-scale, long-term excavations have been undertaken, yet several salvage excavations have revealed a continuous sequence of occupation from the Chalcolithic to the Ottoman periods (Plan 1.1; see Golani and van den Brink 1999: Appendix 1). The lack of systematic investigation makes it very difficult to reconstruct the ancient settlement at any given period. Moreover, most of the remains uncoveredthus far relate to funerary activities.

The tell itself is quite small, however the ancient site appears to have spread beyond its confines, as noted by several large cemeteries, dating from the Chalcolithic period through to modern times. These seem to indicate the presence of a larger settlement than that located on the relatively small tell, yet, it is not possible at this stage to estimate its size. However, the site’s location on the main coastal routes may hint at the use of the area as a regional cemetery in certain periods, catering not only to the site itself. It should be noted that natural caves are common along the kurkar ridges of the region, which can easily be cut for shaft graves.


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