Phase III. A section of a wall (W16; width 0.3 m, preserved height 0.35 m; Fig. 5), built of two rows of fieldstones and set on loess, was discovered. The northern side W16 was abutted by a tamped earth floor (L114; thickness 0.1 m) that was overlain with fragments of pottery vessels from the eighth century BCE, as well as traces of ash. The wall and floor were covered with intentional fill, consisting of alternating layers of loess and ash (L111; thickness 0.93 m). The fill contained fragments of a tabun and pottery vessels from the same period and was probably meant to level the area prior to the construction in Phase II.
Phase II. Two walls (W14, W15, width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.2–0.4 m) were discovered on fill that consisted of loess soil mixed with ash. The walls were built of one or two rows of fieldstones. A tamped earth floor (L109; thickness 0.12 m) was exposed north of W14. A shallow pit (depth 0.2 m), which contained fragments of a cooking pot dating to the eighth century BCE, was exposed in Floor 109. Tamped earth floors (L112—thickness 0.1 m; L113—thickness 8 cm) abutted W15 from the north and south. A circular installation built of stones, which might have been a work surface, was exposed on Floor 113 (Fig. 6). Fragments of a burnished bowl, a jar and a cooking pot dating to the eighth century BCE, and a flint pounder (Fig. 7:20) were discovered near the installation.
Phase I. Part of a building was exposed above the remains of Stratum II; it consisted of three walls (W11–W13) that delimited two rooms. The eastern wall (W12; width 0.5 m, preserved height 0.25–0.35 m), was mostly built of mud bricks and tamped brick material, except for its northern part in which fieldstones were incorporated. The east–west oriented walls (W11—width 0.4 m, preserved height 0.3–0.4 m; W13—width 0.3 m, preserved height 0.15–0.25 m) were built of one row of fieldstones. A tamped earth floor (L103; thickness 8 cm; Fig. 8) was exposed in the southern room and a hearth was set upon it. Remains of mud-brick material, which were of similar composition to the material found in W12, were discovered west of this room; this might possibly be the western wall of the room which was not preserved. The northern room and the area east of the building were covered with ash levels (L105—thickness 0.55 m; L106—thickness 0.39 m) to the height of the walls, and it therefore seems that these parts were no longer in use during the last phase of the building’s existence.
The potsherds recovered from the three phases date to the eighth century BCE and include open flat bowls (Fig. 7:1), round bowls (Fig. 7:2–4), carinated bowls (Fig. 7:5–7), bowls with an outwardly folded and thickened rim (Fig. 7: 8–11), globular cooking pots with a prominent ridge around the rim and no neck (Fig. 7:12, 14), a cooking pot with a high grooved neck (Fig. 7:13), jars with a high slightly inverted neck (Fig. 7:15, 16), jars with an upright neck (Fig. 7:17), a hole-mouth vessel with a thickened rim (Fig. 7:18) and a juglet with a flaring neck and a thickened rim (Fig. 7:19). Similar pottery is common throughout the Kingdom of Judah during the eighth century BCE. At Tel Be’er Sheva‘, which is next to the excavation, similar vessels were discovered in Stratum II, which dates to the same period.
The excavation has shown that during Iron Age IIB, buildings at the site were situated outside the city walls of Tel Be’er Sheva‘. The construction in all three phases was of mediocre quality and it is therefore possible that these were seasonal structures. The available land suitable for growing grain and the high water table along the stream channel attracted settlers who were engaged in seasonal agriculture or grazing of sheep/goats.
Aharoni Y. 1973. Beer-Sheba I. Excavation at Tel Beer-Sheba 1969–1971 Seasons. Tel Aviv.
Herzog Z. 1984. Beer-Sheba II. The Early Iron Age Settlements. Tel Aviv.