The excavated area (40 × 40 m) yielded an Intermediate Bronze Age settlement stratum in an excellent state of preservation despite its close proximity to the surface. Walls of buildings, basalt vessels, as well as pottery, flint and stone implements were exposed in one destruction layer (Fig. 2). A plastered installation dating to the Hellenistic period was revealed in the northern part of the area.
The settlement remains are located in an area that is completely flat and are divided into two complexes, an eastern and a western one, separated by a straight road aligned in a northeast–southwest direction (Figs. 3, 4). The architectural remains included various-sized rooms and open areas. Some of the vacant areas between the room clusters may have served as courtyards. The architectural remains suggest that there were several courtyard buildings in the area. Small rooms (2 × 2 m) and small niches adjacent to the walls were found throughout the site. The larger rooms were of various sizes, and it is obvious that an effort was made to construct the walls at right angles. Almost all the walls at the site were built of a single row stones of various sizes, aligned in a uniform direction. The tops of the walls were not level, and it seems that mud-bricks were not placed on the stone foundations that were exposed. On the floors in some of the rooms were flat stones that might have been used as a bases for wooden columns that supported the roofs (Fig. 5). These column bases are the only evidence of the structures’ roofs.
With the exception of the straight, wide street, no planning or standardized construction was discerned in the building remains. Whereas planning is evident in the division of the settlement into building lots and passages between structures, no planning is evident in private construction between the streets.
Grinding stones of different sizes, some made of large stones (more than 1 m long, c. 0.8 m wide), were found in some of the large rooms. Grinding stones occurring in a variety of shapes and sizes were discovered together with the heavy grinding stones.
The ceramic assemblage at the site comes from two sources: in-situ pottery vessels found in some of the rooms and hundreds of pottery sherds discovered in some of the courtyards and covering the street in a thick layer. These layers of pottery sherds may have served as the roadbed. The ceramic assemblage found in the rooms consisted of an abundance of bowls, kraters, globular cooking pots, jars, pithoi, amphoriskoi and several lamps. The exterior of some of the vessels are decorated with thick combing. A few goblets were found, some of which are slipped red. Fragments of a bottle made of dark brown clay and decorated with white stripes were also found; these are presumably from Syria. The large pottery vessels, mainly the cooking pots, jars and pithoi, are known from other settlement sites. Small vessels, particularly teapots and small amphoriskoi, are known from cemeteries in the vicinity of the site (Tel Bet Sheʽan, Tel Rehov, Tel ‘Amal and Tel Artal). These finds aid in connecting the site at Tel Iztabba‘ with other sites in its environs and in defining its character.
The storage vessels and numerous large grinding stones that were found at the site show that its inhabitants were farmers engaged in growing crops in the vicinity and in processing the agricultural produce inside their houses and courtyards. No evidence of public buildings was found at the site. Stones found in some of the buildings mightbe interpreted as private shrines. The wide, straight street indicates that the different areas of the site were intentionally divided and separated by streets. The utter uniformity of the construction materials, the dimensions of the buildings and their division into similar-sized spaces seem to indicate a single-class society that maintained social and cultural communication both within their community and with societies in nearby settlements, and thus had no need for a protected settlement, fenced off from its neighbors.
The settlement at Tel Izt
abba‘ is large, extending across dozens of dunams, and was part of the settlement at nearby Tel Bet She’an. It seems that at the end of the Early Bronze Age III, most of the residents on Tel Bet She’an chose to reside on the level ground north of Nah
arod, and only a few remained on the tell itself during the Intermediate Bronze Age (Mazar 2006
). The crushed vessels on the floors of the houses indicate that the site was destroyed and abandoned at the end of the period. Judging by the nature of the construction, particularly the placement of the stones in the walls, it seems that the buildings at the site were made of perishable materials and that there were no brick walls. Some walls were probably constructed of mud; however, most walls seem to have been made of other materials. The selection of the level area that is lower than its surroundings, except Nah
arod to the south, indicates that the inhabitants had no security considerations when choosing a
location for settlement
. This phenomenon was also discerned at other Intermediate Bronze Age sites, at Tel Zivda, Kefar H
assidim, Migdal Ha-‘Emeq and Tel Yosef. Thus, the construction of an open settlement on a plain is not unique to Tel Izt
abba‘. A similar site was discovered in the fish ponds of Sha‘ar Ha-Golan (Eisenberg 2012