. The earliest occupation remains consist of mud-brick architecture built directly upon the sterile sands, with no stone foundations. These remains concentrate primarily in the western part of the excavated area (Fig. 3). A long and slightly curving mud-brick wall (W5/W16) was traced for nearly 15 meters, and may be part of a large enclosure wall. Several short walls branch off this long wall to the east, outside the area of the enclosure. Another curving wall (W30) joins it from the west. Wall 30 may represent a curvilinear structure within the enclosure, which continues westward, beyond the excavated area. Similar structures were found in previous excavations at the EB I site of Ashqelon Barne‘a (Golani 2005
; Golani 2007; Golani 2008a
). The eastern and southern parts of the excavated area did not produce any architectural remains that may be associated with this stratum.;
Stratum II. The habitation surfaces of Stratum II lay directly over those of Stratum III, indicating a complete break in occupation between the two (Fig. 4). One of the main characteristics of the Stratum II occupation, which distinguished it from the earlier Stratum III, was the use of local kurkar stone for building. A large concentration of such stones, possibly a collapsed or dismantled structure, or a concentration of building material (L12), was revealed in the center of the excavated area. Part of a stone curvilinear structure (W48) was found in the southern part of the excavation, surrounded by habitation surfaces. A large part of this structure suffered severe erosion damage and later disturbances, yet on its northeastern part, one course of large to medium-sized kurkar stones was still preserved (Fig. 5);this structure seems to have had a horseshoe-shaped outline, and its floor (L52) was overlaid with large quantities of burned destruction debris that included two smashed storage jars found upon it (Fig. 5), a large amount of burned mud-brick and large chunks of burned clay that contained much organic temper. The latter are interpreted as the remains of the clay and straw coating of the roof that collapsed over the contents of the house as it was destroyed.
Stratum I included various intrusions and other features, predominantly rectangular, rounded or irregular pits filled with sand, which cut through the earlier remains, causing severe damage. Some of these pits may date to the Byzantine occupation, sparse remains of which were uncovered in the previous excavation of Area E2.
The present excavation in Area N is an important addition to our understanding of the Early Bronze Age I occupation at Ashqelon. The findings in Area N also appear to relate well to those excavated in Area E2 (Golani and Paran 2014
), where the mud-brick architecture of Stratum III was superceded by the stone and mud-brick architecture of Stratum II. The building in Area N, Stratum II, which seems to have been destroyed by fire, is so far unique at Ashqelon.