10-acre mound on the Mediterranean coast near where the Kishon River empties into the bay of Haifa (map reference 151 × 144). It may be identified with Bronze-Iron Age Achshaph, or biblical Shihor-Libnah (Jos. 19:26). Within the Haifa city limits, the site was the focus of several salvage excavations by the British Mandatory Department of Antiquities (1922–1933), and later by the Israeli archaeologists Emanuel Anati, Yaacov Olami, and Moshe Prausnitz (1952, 1963). More modern stratigraphic work was carried out In 1984–1989 by French and Israeli archaeologists. They also investigated the ancient harbor area, which was responsible for Tell Abu Hawam's relative abundance of imported wares and commercial prominence.

The earlier stratigraphic sequence, mostly derived by R. W. Hamilton (1932, 1933), has been much debated in the literature. Jacqueline Balensi (1980) has revised the strata and dates (1985, 1986) based on the latest excavations.

The town was founded at the end of the Middle Bronze Age (stratum VI; sixteenth–fifteenth century BCE), then fortified and equipped with a citadel and sanctuary when it became a major entrepôt during the Late Bronze Age (stratum VA–C; mid-fifteenth–twelfth century). The material belonging to the latter horizon is exceptionally fine and often imported; the older view that Tell Abu Hawam was an Egyptian nineteenth-dynasty naval base has now been largely abandoned (Weinstein, 1980). The destruction that ended stratum VC was probably caused by invading “Sea Peoples” in about 1200 BCE, as at other sites along the Levantine coast. [See Philistines, article on Early Philistines.] A gap posited by Hamilton at the end of stratum V seems not to have existed.

Stratum IVA–B (eleventh–tenth century) represents an Iron I reoccupation, characterized by reuse of temple 30, three-room houses, and some Phoenician bichrome wares. This stratum ended in a great conflagration.

Stratum IIIA–B (tenth–eighth century) belongs to the Iron II period and seems to represent a mixed Israelite-Phoenician culture, in which some of the earlier cyclopean walls and other installations were reused. The pottery included late Cypro-Phoenician wares; some “Samaria” wares; Cypriot White-Painted III wares, and Greek imports. This stratum either declined, perhaps as a result of the silting up of the harbor, or was destroyed in the Assyrian invasions in the eighth century BCE. [See Phoenicians; Assyrians.]

Stratum IIA–B (fifth–fourth century) produced a Persian-period settlement, with substantial fortifications and considerable imported pottery. Tell Abu Hawam was subsequently largely abandoned. Many of the tombs in the nearby cemetery on the northern slope of Mt. Carmel belong to this Persian horizon.


  • Balensi, Jacqueline. “Les fouilles de R. W. Hamilton à Tell Abu Hawam, Niveaux IV et V.” Ph.D. diss., University of Strassburg, 1980.
  • Balensi, Jacqueline, et al. “Abu Hawam, Tell.” In The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 1, pp. 7–14. Jerusalem and New York, 1993.
  • Weinstein, James M. “Was Tell Abu Hawam a Nineteenth Dynasty Egyptian Naval Base?” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 238 (1980): 43–46.

William G. Dever