During July 2002, a salvage excavation was conducted in Sulam (Tel Shunem; Permit No. A-3671; map ref. 2318/7237), following the discovery of ancient remains during the construction of a house. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by K. Covello-Paran, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), H. Smithline (field photography), L. Porat (pottery restoration), E. Arie (pottery analysis) and H. Tahan (drawing).
Sulam is located in the Yizra‘el valley, at the foot of Giv‘at Ha-More and next to Nahal Shunem. A modern cemetery is located on a tell (25 dunams), which is in the center of the village. The archaeological site is identified with ancient Shunem, mentioned in both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources. The site has been extensively surveyed in the past (Map of ‘En Dor , Site 37) and numerous small-scale excavations have been conducted on behalf of the IAA (HA-ESI 114:26*–27*; HA-ESI 118; HA-ESI120; HA-ESI121; HA-ESI 122). The present excavation is directly north of the modern cemetery.
Two squares (total 42.5 sq m) were excavated to a maximum depth of 3 m, exposing an upper historical stratum that overlaid four archaeological strata, dating to the Byzantine period, Iron Age I and Late Bronze Age III, which is contemporary with the Twentieth Dynasty in Egypt..
Sparse architectural elements in the northern square, which included two segments of stone-built walls (W107, W108) and a stone-paved floor (L115), were attributed to this stratum (Fig. 1). These elements were disturbed by the Stratum I graves and themselves directly superimposed the ruins of Stratum V. It is probable that the builders of Stratum II leveled off the Stratum III and IV elements in this square, thus their absence. The ceramic finds from this stratum dated to the Byzantine period.
Architectural finds from this stratum were confined to the southern square and included a wall fragment, a hard-packed earthen floor and an associated storage jar installation. The assemblage of potsherds dated to Iron Age I.
The fragmentary building remains of this stratum were discovered only in the northern square. They were well preserved and included a brick wall, standing five courses high above a stone foundation. A hard-packed earthen floor abutted this wall. The pottery finds dated to early Iron Age I.
The well-preserved building remains from this stratum in the northern square resulted from a fire, which conflagrated the brick walls that collapsed above the room contents. Two rooms, which appear to be from two separate buildings located side by side, were discerned. Charcoaled olive pits were found on the hard-packed floor of Room 113 (Fig. 2). The restored pottery vessels from this room (Fig. 3) included bowls, a spouted krater, cooking pots, flasks, store jars and a partially preserved duck-shaped bowl (Fig. 4). The rich pottery assemblage links this stratum to the end of Egyptian rule in Canaan during the Twentieth Dynasty (Late Bronze III).
The current excavation, located adjacent to the northernmost limits of the LB/Iron I settlement, exposed important finds from the Late Bronze and Iron periods. These finds contribute toward our understanding of the site, which is well documented in various historical sources. The intense settlement at the site is reflected by the dense stratigraphy that undoubtedly continued below the excavated depth.