Outside of Tzfat, next to Rosh Pinna, sits the modern city of Hatzor. Hatzor HaGlilit was incorporated as a town after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and the early residents of Hatzor were mainly immigrants from North Africa.
Hatzor, however, has a long and rich history, and it is recognized as one of the oldest settled cities in the Land of Israel, dating back to the second millennium B.C.E.
An Ancient Cannanite City
The city was a pagan city when Joshua led the Israelites into the Land of Israel, and it is mentioned in the Bible as one of the cities that Joshua destroyed in his conquest of the Land. In fact, the Bible states that "But as for the cities that stood still in their strength, Israel burned none of them, save Hatzor only; that did Joshua burn. (Joshua 11:13)" and indeed, the archeological evidence clearly shows the destruction of the city by fire in 1200 B.C.E., the era that the Jews were entering Israel.
Archeological excavations attest to the importance of the city, which is probably why it was the one pagan city that Joshua chose to destroy entirely. Tel Hatzor, the Hatzor site, has proven to be one of the richest sources of archeological findings that give historians a clear picture of life in the Land of Israel during the Cannanite periods and subsequent Jewish settlement in the Land.
The Hatzor site is best known for the huge palace that occupies much of the Tel. The palace was rebuilt several times between the 17th and 13th centuries B.C.E. - each time becoming larger and more elaborate. Again, these palaces attest to Hatzor's prominence in the area of the time, and its place as one of Northern Israel's most important cities. This developed from Hatzor's location along the trade route between Lebanon/Syria and Egypt, the reigning power of the time. Archeologists are convinced that the biggest find of the dig is yet to be discovered - they await the discovery of a library, alluded to in tablets that have been discovered, which may well be the most extensive library of that period.
After Hatzor's destruction at the hands of Joshua Bin Nun and the Israelites, Hatzor was resettled periodically, the last time notably by King Solmon. The Bible tells of King Solomon's establishment of royal cities in Megiddo, Hatzor and Gezer, and the excavations in all three areas have found similar homes and administrative buildings which date from that time.
The Ayalet HaShachar Museum houses the Hatzor Museum, where the artifacts which have been uncovered at the Hatzor Excavation are housed. Ayalet HaShachar is located along the road which runs between Hatzor HaGlilit (the modern town) and Kiryat Shmoneh, to the East. The Tel (archeological site) itself is a National Park and can be visited throughout the year -- it sits on the west side of the road, across from the Ayelet HaShachar kibbutz.