Work concentrated in the 12 northern squares. The goals of this season were to uncover the remains of the Late Bronze Age destruction layer below the administrative structures of the Iron Age, which were exposed in the former season. The remains exposed this year belonged to an earlier phase of the Iron Age and to the end of the Late Bronze Age. They were attributed to three stratigraphic phases.
After the dismantling of the northern Three-Halls Building, dating to the ninth century BCE (HA-ESI 122), a number of pavements, installations and several pits, all dating to Iron Age II, were exposed. The pavements and installations were limited to the eastern squares in Area M, whereas the pits were identified throughout the entire area.
Three distinct architectural units, which could be dated to the early Iron Age, were identified below the pavements (Fig. 1).
The first Iron Age unit, located in the eastern part of the area, was a large drainage channel covered with a row of small stones. The channel continued to the south underneath the northeastern corner of the southern Three-Halls Building.
The second unit consisted of two walls that formed a corner of a well-built structure; the walls, uncovered below the northern outlet of the drainage channel, were sealed by it. The fragmentary nature of this structure was due to its lying outside the eastern border of the excavation area.
It should be said that the entire eastern part of the area was overlain with brown soil fill, including layers and accumulations of lime material. The essence of the fill, which contained pottery fragments from both the Bronze and Iron Ages, is not yet clear.
The third architectural unit was the “Mazzebot Complex”, located in the northwestern part of the area (Fig. 2). The walls of this complex were built of large and coarsely-worked limestone boulders. An east–west oriented partition wall, whose top was overlain with a row of four stone bases, was uncovered in the center of the complex. Four elongated chalk stones were found fallen to the south of this wall, and were put back on their respective bases. These stones were poorly preserved and crumbled almost immediately after their exposure. The “Mazzebot Complex” was built on top of the fallen mud bricks of the Late Bronze Age structure (see below). A neck and rim of a Cypro-Phoenician juglet, sealed below one of the fallen stones, gave a terminus post quem for this complex, which should be dated, at the earliest, to Iron Age II.
No physical connection was identified between the three architectural units in the eastern and the western parts of Area M. It seems that the drainage channel is the latest of the three, and should probably be dated to the ninth century BCE construction of the administrative structures in the area. The “Mazzebot Complex” and the structure sealed by the drainage channel might have been contemporary and thus, earlier than the ninth century BCE. The relationship between these units will be further explored in the next season.
The earliest phase excavated this season was the top of the destruction layer in a monumental structure dating to the Late Bronze Age. This phase was found mainly in the western part of the area, where a huge mud-brick collapse and evidence of an intensive conflagration—burnt mud bricks and charred organic material, were identified (Fig. 3).
The burnt and fallen mud bricks were sealed by the “Mazzebot Complex” in the north.
The plan of the destroyed building was partly uncovered during this season. Several monumental walls, built of huge, coarsely worked, megalithic lime stones, were discovered in the southern part of the excavated area. These walls, preserved in excess of 2 m high, were partly white plastered. A large mud-brick wall of the building, oriented north–south, was identified in the western part of the area (see Fig. 3). The plan of this monumental building, its function and its relation to the Podium Complex, found on a much lower level to its north in previous seasons, will be the goals of next season's excavation.
At the end of the season, the mud-brick walls and destruction layer of the Late Bronze Age monumental building were covered with a layer of Geo-Technic soft material, overlain with large sheets of plastic, to protect them from the winter rains (Fig. 4).
A trial square was opened to the north of Building 7050, dating to the Late Bronze Age, in the second part of the season. The aim of the excavation in this area was to uncover the earlier remains below the pebble-paved northern courtyard that had been exposed in previous seasons.
Layers of fills rich in ash and mud-brick material, which probably served as makeup for the courtyard’s Late Bronze I pavement, were discovered below it. Fragments of stone-built walls and pavements were found below these fill layers (Fig. 5). Due to the limited excavation area, no plan of the area in this phase, dating to the end of the Middle Bronze Age, could be reconstructed. Excavation in the area will continue in the next season.