Area A extended across a hill on the northern bank of Nahal Be’er Sheva‘ (c. 2.5 dunams; Fig. 3). Building stones that are scattered along its slopes had rolled downhill toward the surrounding channels. Three excavation squares (J3, J4, J18; Fig. 3) were opened, yielding a habitation level (L113–L115; thickness 0.15–0.30 m) of mud-brick fragments and pottery sherds mixed with loess, which had accumulated on the natural loess. A hearth containing a small amount of ash was discovered at the base Habitation Level 113. Wall remains (W104–W112, W116–W123, W126–W128; Fig. 4) delimiting the rooms of buildings were documented on the surface at the edge of the hill. Although the buildings were not excavated, it was possible to detect the outline of some of the structures (Fig. 5). The walls were visible on the surface. They were constructed of fieldstones (width 0.5–0.7 m) and probably constituted a foundation for mud-bricks; the mud-brick remains were identified near the surface (L124). Part of a room with a stone pavement (L125) that abutted the base of Wall 111 (Fig. 6) was identified on the southern fringes of the hill. The southern section of the room had apparently been eroded down the hillside.
Area B (Fig. 7) extended east of Area A. Field walls (W202, W203; Fig. 8) belonging to a Byzantine-period settlement were discerned, most of which was situated c. 20 north of the excavation area. The walls survived to a height of two–three fieldstone courses founded on natural loess. Some of the walls were constructed of stones arranged in proper courses, and others were of stones of various sizes irregularly stacked on top of each other. The walls apparently served as terraces or as fences separating agricultural plots.
Ceramics. The pottery from the excavation dates from the Iron Age IIA and includes indigenous types along with types characteristic of the southern coast. Some of the vessels are red-slipped and hand-burnished. The bowls and kraters comprise several types: a flat bowl with a thin, plain rim (Fig. 9:1); round bowls with grooves below the rim (Fig. 9:2, 3; Gophna 1966: Fig. 5:10; Herzog 1984: Fig. 20:4); bell-shaped bowls and kraters characteristic of the Philistine culture (Fig. 9:4–12; Gophna 1964: Fig. 2:5, 8–10; 1966: Figs. 3:6, 7, 11; 4:3, 8; Herzog 1984: Figs. 17:5, 17; 20:2, 9), one of which has degenerated horizontal handles that continue the tradition of the Iron Age I (Fig. 9:7), and two others that are red-slipped and irregularly hand-burnished (Fig 9:4, 5); a krater with a long ridged neck (Fig. 9:13; Herzog 1984: Fig. 27:6); and a disk base belonging to a krater (Fig. 9:14). Also found were broad, open cooking pots with a squat body and a groove below the rim that forms an elongated triangular cross-section (Fig. 10:1–4; Gophna 1964: Fig. 2:1–4; 1966: Fig. 4:1; Herzog 1984: Figs. 18; 22:1–10; 28:1–6); jars with molded rims (Fig. 10:5–7; Herzog 1984: Figs. 23:3,4; 29:4), with rims thickened on the outside (Fig. 10:8, 9; Herzog 1984: Fig. 19:4) and with an upright neck and a plain rim (Fig. 10:10, 11; Herzog 1984: Fig. 23:1); a cooking jug with a thickened and everted rim (Fig. 10:12; Herzog 1984: Figs. 22:11–16; 28:10); juglets (Fig. 10:13, 14); bases of various types of jugs (Fig. 10:15, 16); a body fragment with an engraved potter’s mark (Fig. 10:17); and a fragment of a round lamp (Fig. 10:18).
The close resemblance between the ceramic finds from this settlement and those discovered at sites along Nahal Be’er Sheva‘, Nahal Patish and Nahal Ha-Besor (Gophna 1964; 1966) and at Tel Be’er Sheva‘ (Strata IX–VI; Herzog 1984) substantiates the hypothesis that all of these sites date from the Iron Age IIA.
Stone Artifacts. A plano-convex shaped grind stone made of indigenous limestone was discovered; its flat side was the grinding surface (Fig. 10:19). A round object made of hard limestone (Fig. 10:20) was found nearby; it too may have been used for grinding.
The settlement at Nahal Be’er Sheva‘ was part of the array of small settlements from the Iron Age IIA that was discovered in the frontier region of the northwestern Negev (Gophna 1964; 1966). Numerous settlements were established near riverbanks due to the availability of water and their proximity to agricultural areas and roads. The soil is suitable for growing grain, and the high water table along the riverbeds attracted settlers who were engaged in seasonal farming and herding sheep and goat. The remains of these settlements (the haserim) show that the settlement in the Negev frontier spread to regions that were previously uninhabited, indicating the expansion of control over the desert routes. The new chain of settlements brought with it a new period of settlement prosperity.