The aim of the excavation in Area A (125 sq m), on the high, southern part of the tel, was to assess the stratigraphy. So far remains of eight strata have been exposed:
Strata AI–AII—unknown period. Remains of walls were discovered throughout the area. They did not coalesce to form a clear building plan, due to damage that was caused by modern activity. It is not possible to date the walls with certainty; however, since no artifacts that postdate the Roman period were found, they possibly date to this period.
Stratum AIII—first century BCE (Fig. 3). Remains of walls and occupation levels, some of them paved, were discovered in the entire area. Here too, the walls do not form a coherent plan due to later disturbances. The pottery from this stratum includes a flask (Fig. 4:1), cooking pots (Fig 4:2), jars (Fig 4:5), a jug (Fig 4:4), an amphoriskos (Fig 4:6) and a Herodian lamp (not drawn).
Stratum AIV—first century BCE (Fig. 3). Meager remains were discovered, including a wall (W41055) and an occupation level (L41043) with a tabun (L41041), which were severely damaged by later disturbances. The scant pottery finds include a complete jar (Fig. 4:3).
Stratum AV—Iron Age IIB. Remains of a pit containing several pottery sherds and stone implements from the Iron Age IIB were discovered in Sq V9. This is the only evidence to date for this period on the tel (see below, the administrative building at the foot of the mound in Area D).
Strata AVI–AVIII—Middle Bronze Age IIB–C (Fig. 5). Sections of pavements from Stratum AVI were found in Sqs V9, V10 (L51055, L51056, L61028, L61029); remains of a wall (W61027) and a stone pavement (L61030) were found from Stratum AVII; and from Stratum AVIII, remains of a building in Sq U11.
Although Area A was severely disturbed in the modern era, the excavation there is important for understanding the characteristics of the site: 1. Presumably there were several structures in the southern part of the site that date from the first century BCE to the end of the Hellenistic and the beginning of the Early Roman periods, and these are the only remains from this period on the tel; 2. The only evidence to the Iron Age II on the tel so far, was found in Stratum AV, and it seems to be related to the widespread activities of this period at the foot of the tel (see below, Area D); 3. The absence of finds from the Late Bronze Age indicates that the settlement during this period was confined to the central and northern parts of the tel; 4. The MB II finds are a testimony to the most intensive period of occupation at the site. It seems that settlement concentrated in this area during the last phases of the period (MB IIB–C); no evidence to the period has been discovered so far in the northern parts of the tel.
In the northern part of the tel, the previous excavation was expanded and deepened (200 sq m; Zertal 2003
). The aim was to ascertain the nature of the MB II fortifications, which were discovered in prior excavations, when the outer northern face of a stone city-wall (preserved height 3 m), and a stone building with a sloping wall that adjoined it, were uncovered; the sloping wall was initially identified as a glacis (Zertal 2003
Three strata were identified:
Stratum BI. Meager remains of walls, which could not be dated, were exposed on the surface.
Stratum BII. Remains of a well-preserved building, which dates to the early part of the MB IIB (min. dimensions 6.0 × 10.5 m, max. height 1.5 m, up to nine courses; Fig. 6) were exposed. The northern, eastern and southern walls were excavated. The northern wall (W62035), which is narrower than the others, and partly constructed of large boulders, seems to have been a late addition. It was founded on the upper courses of the city wall (W12009, Stratum BIII of the MB IIA; Fig. 7) and therefore postdates it. Another wall (W22030; Fig. 6) was revealed east of the building. On the floor of the room (L52035), which was made of tamped earth mixed with a small quantity of chalk, were large body fragments of a pithos in situ.
Stratum BIII. A fortification system from the MB IIA was discovered. The full width of the city wall (W12009; c. 3 m in Sq X42; Figs. 7, 8) was exposed, as well as the continuation of the stone building with the sloping walls (W42012, W12017; Fig. 7), which adjoined the city wall and had been mistakenly identified as a glacis. It became clear that this is a unique tower (base 6 × 11 m; Fig. 9). A homogenous earthen fill was intentionally deposited in it, on a stone pavement (L42026). The upper part of the tower was not preserved. Excavations of the locus that was sealed by the stone pavement (L42027), exposed the foundations of the city-wall, which were about a meter deep. The pottery from this locus dates the construction of the tower to the MB IIA at the earliest.
A stone pavement (more than 1 m thick) abutted the outer face of the city wall (L22023, L52033), and on it, adjacent to the stone city-wall, was a brick wall (thickness 1.2–1.4 m), which survived to a height of ten courses. An earthen rampart with layers of crushed chalk and layers with high concentration of small and medium limestones, abutted the wall (Fig. 10). The upper part of the rampart adjoined the city wall and one of the sloping walls of the tower. The slope of the rampart in this area was very gradual, and it therefore seems that its function was not defensive, but rather to provide reinforcement to the city wall, or to act as an entrance ramp to the city. The most plausible explanation is that this was a ramp leading up to the city gate, since there was no evidence to it or to the mud-brick wall on the section of the city-wall west of the sloping tower (in Area B2).
Narrow walls (W32014, W22008, W52010), which were preserved to a considerable height, abutted the city-wall (W12009) on the south; their excavation has not yet been completed. Part of the large quantity of finds that were discovered in the fill between these walls and the city-wall, was sealed beneath the floors of the building in Stratum BII, and dated to the MB IIA. Most of the finds were bowls (Fig. 11:1–6), cooking pots (Fig. 11:7–9) and jars (Fig. 11:10–21). Other finds included the base of a juglet, red slipped and burnished (Fig. 11:22), and an incised knob-handle/plastic decoration (Fig. 11:23).
The excavation in this area is important for understanding two characteristics of the site: 1. A unique fortification system dating to the MB IIA, which includes a sloping tower and a moderately inclined entrance ramp; both these elements are not known in other sites of the period. 2. The site joins the network of fortified MB IIA sites in the Sharon (Kochavi, Beck and Gophna 1979). Unlike the sites that ceased to exist prior to the transition to the MB IIB or during this period, the settlement at Tel Esur continued to exist, albeit no longer fortified. In fact, this is the main site in the northern Sharon in the MB IIB; the coming excavation seasons will be devoted to understanding its nature during this period.
The aim of the excavation in this area, slightly west of Area B, was to evaluate the stratigraphy in the northern part of the tel. A building dating to the LB IIA, with rooms arranged around a central courtyard, was exposed (Figs. 12, 13). The outline of the central courtyard (L52203, pavement L62217) is estimated only. The boundaries of the structure are unclear because the walls in the south (W62280) and the east (W52218) were severed by later activity, and because of a slope-slide in the northern part of the building (W42214, W52220). Only the stone foundations of the building were preserved; remains of bricks in the collapse indicate brick-construction in the high part of the walls. A destruction layer rich in finds was uncovered in the rooms of the building, and preliminary pottery-analysis points to a destruction date in the early fourteenth century BCE. Destruction remains were also discovered in the southeastern part of the excavation area (L62270), but it is not yet clear if the two are the same destruction level, or the latter represents an earlier phase of a settlement from the Late Bronze Age. Discrete areas of activity: a storage area and a cooking area were clearly identifiable in the building. Two adjacent rooms (L42224, L42225) were revealed in the storage area. Four whole pithoi
: Fig. F15) were discovered in Room 42224, and seven whole commercial jars (Bar 2016
: Fig. F18) were found in Room 42225. West of the courtyard was a smaller courtyard (L62300), and in it a cell, which was used for cooking (L62233), containing a well-preserved tabun
(Fig. 14), two complete jars and a female plaque-figurine.
The pottery in the building dates to the early fourteenth century BCE. More than sixty complete vessels were found in situ
, bowls (Fig. 15:1, 2), Cypriot bowls (Fig. 15:3, 4), kraters (Fig. 15:5, 6), a cooking pot (Fig. 15:7, 8) and jars (Fig. 15:9–12). In addition, numerous stone objects were discovered, including three figurines and a royal scarab dating to the reign of Amenhotep III (Bar 2016
: Fig. F16). Particularly notable are vessels made of local raw material, which were produced in Egyptian technology, evidence to contact between inhabitants of the building and the Egyptian trade of the period.
West of the area, a trench comprising five squares was excavated from the top of the tel to the plain at its foot, in order to determine the stratigraphy of the site in this area (Area B2). Part of the MB IIA city-wall and the western side of the sloping tower-wall (Fig. 16), most of which was excavated in the east of Area B, were exposed in the center of the slope. Large quantities of pottery ranging in date from the Pottery Neolithic period to the Early Bronze Age I were found in the northern part of the trench, apparently deposited there in the course of the infrastructure work for the MB IIA system of fortifications.
The aim of the excavation in this area, on an artificial rise 50 m southeast of the tel and south of ‘En Arubot (Fig. 17), was to evaluate the stratigraphy of the lower tel. An administrative building dating to the eighth century BCE was discovered, and three strata were exposed:
Stratum DI. Remains of a wall (W54043), which cuts the Iron Age building of Stratum DII, were revealed. No finds that can date the stratum were discovered.
Stratum DII. The western parts of a large meticulously built structure were uncovered (thickness of inner walls 0.8 m, thickness of outer walls 1.2 m; Figs. 17, 18). Its southern (W44026), western (W54006) and northern (W54021) walls were exposed. The building continued to the east beyond the excavation area, and its western part was severely damaged by agricultural activity. It has fieldstone foundations and brick walls; several mud-bricks were discovered in situ and in the collapse. The building consisted of at least three rows of square rooms, with three rooms in each row. The excavation of another row of rooms (DH) containing at least one paved room (L64601), has just begun. Auxiliary structures that adjoined W54021 were discovered north of the main building. At least two stages of construction were identified, and the finds were more numerous than in the rooms of the main building: tabuns (L44038, L44044), cooking pots and many stone objects indicative of areas used for cooking and work. The scant pottery assemblage included mainly cooking pots (Fig. 19:5–9), basins and thick Samaritan bowls (Fig. 19:1–4), as well as jars and jugs (Fig. 19:10, 11, 13, 14) and a flask (Fig. 19:12), and was dated to the mid-eighth century BCE.
was exposed beneath the foundations of the Stratum DII building, and layers of fill and the top of a wall were excavated in it. Pottery and flint tools from the EB I were discovered. It seems that this was part of the large proto-historic site that was excavated near the tel (Yannai 2006
). A trial square (DF13; Figs. 17, 18) was excavated below the foundations of the Iron Age building, and the face of a curved wall (W54037; thickness 0.8 m) was exposed. Another curved wall (W64060) was revealed below the Iron Age walls in the western part of the excavation. The construction style of the walls resembles that of the curved walls of buildings from the EB I, and it therefore seems that this stratum, which will be investigated in the coming excavation season, dates to the EB IB.