Institute of Archaeology, Hebrew University

Assyrian influence on the culture of Palestine is shown by the remains of buildings with an open-court design. Open-court buildings had a large central courtyard around which several smaller rooms were arranged. This design was common in Mesopotamia long before the Assyrians conquered Israel, but it does not appear in Palestine until the late eighth century B.C.E., when the Assyrians started rebuilding many of the towns they had earlier destroyed. As new construction went forward, the open-court design replaced the four-room building plan that had previously been favored in Israel and Phoenicia.

The remains shown in this photograph are from Hazor, about 10 miles north of the Sea of Galilee, while the drawing below is of Megiddo. After the Assyrians rebuilt Megiddo, they made it the capital of an imperial province comprising Galilee and the Jezreel Valley. Although the open-court structure became common in areas directly under Assyrian control (Israel, Philistia and parts of Phoenicia), the familiar Israelite and Phoenician four-room design continued to be in use in Judah—which the Assyrians did not conquer—up to the time of the Babylonian conquest.