Tombs from the Intermediate Bronze, Middle Bronze II and Late Bronze Ages
Badly preserved remains of a hewn tomb (T105) were exposed in Sq B below a rock fall that covered the entire excavation area. Only a curved rock-cutting in the chalk bedrock survived from the tomb. A heap of pottery vessels (L111; Fig. 3) was found next to the tomb. A similar pile of sherds was discovered about two meters to the north, in Sq C (L112; Fig. 4). These finds suggest that the rock-cutting was the remains of a chamber inside a hewn burial cave. The pottery piles (L111, L112) seem to be funerary offerings that were moved aside in order to make room for a new interment. The pottery vessels were found mixed, and consequently could not be separated according to burial phases. The earliest sherds in the assemblage date from the Intermediate Bronze Age, and include a cooking pot (Fig. 5:1) and two lug handles of a closed vessel (Fig. 5:2, 3). Most of the pottery vessels are from the Middle Bronze II and Late Bronze Ages. The assemblage comprises open bowls, including a small carinated one (Fig. 5:4); a small bowl with an incurved-wall (Fig. 5:5); bowls with straight or curved walls (Fig. 5:6–10); large bowls that have a thick wall and an inward-folded thickened rim, and are slipped and burnished (Fig. 5:11–13); and a base of a red-slipped and burnished krater (Fig. 5:14). Similar bowls and kraters that were found in Bet Sheʽan date from the end of the MB II and continued to appear in the LB (Maeir 2007:248).
Vessels ascribed to the LB include a chalice base (Fig. 6:1), kraters (Fig. 6:2, 3), cooking pots with a molded and everted rim (Fig. 6:4–6) and a cooking pot with a gutter rim (Fig. 6:7), the likes of which were found in Bet Sheʽan (Maeir 2007:424, Pl. 74:11). Jars (Fig. 6:8–10), a jug (Fig. 6:11), a dipper juglet (Fig. 6:12) and an incised handle (Fig. 6:13) were also found. Other types of pottery include bichrome vessels decorated in brown and black (Fig. 7:1–3), bi-conical vessels with a brown-orange slip and decorated with brown-red paint (Fig. 7:4–6), as well as Cypriot imports, such as milk bowls (Fig. 7:7, 8), base-ring bowls (Fig. 7:9, 10), a bilbil handle (Fig. 7:11), a knife-pared juglet (Fig. 7:12) and a lamp (Fig. 7:13). This group of vessels is very similar to the ceramic assemblage that was discovered in a burial cave at Horbat Zelef (Covello-Paran 2011:24–29, Figs. 21–24). Similar vessels were also found in Bet Sheʽan (Maeir 2007:439–440, Photo 5.54).
Tombs from the Early Roman – Byzantine Periods
Three pit tombs (T113, T115, T116) were found in Sqs B and C, and three other tombs (T108, T109, T110) were identified in Trench D. The tombs were dug into the accumulations that contained remains of tombs from the earlier periods, and despite their meager preservation a fieldstone lining could be discerned. Tomb 113, exposed in the western balk of Sq B (Fig. 3), is oriented in a northwest–southeast direction and lined with flat stones. The tomb was dug in the rock-hewn remains of Tomb 105, disturbing a heap of funerary offerings (L111) from the earlier periods. All that survived of Tomb 116, located east of Tomb 105, were large fieldstones that were found scattered in a circle. Tomb 115, in Sq C and oriented in a northwest–southeast direction, was surrounded by fieldstones arranged in an elongated rectangular outline (Fig. 9). A wall built of fieldstones (W117; Fig. 10) separated Tombs 108 and 110 in Trench D. A skull and bones of a child about 5 years old were found in Tomb 108, near W117. A skull and bones of a woman about 30 years of age were exposed in Tomb 109, and bones and a skull of an adult aged 50–60 years were found in Tomb 110, probably in a primary burial that had been disturbed. Numerous pottery vessels that date from the beginning of the first century CE to the fourth century CE were found in the accumulations throughout the excavation area. Since most of them were discovered inside the tombs and below them, it was possible to date the tombs to these periods. A complete jar (see below; Fig. 11:14) was found in Tomb 116.
The pottery vessels include a Kefar Hananya bowl (Type KH 1A; Fig. 11:1; for Kefar Hananya ware, see Adan-Bayewitz 1993:88–128); two groups of open cooking pots, one with ledge rims (Type KH3B; Fig. 11:2–4) and the other of various forms that differ from the first group in both form and texture, including a krater (Fig. 11:5) and carinated cooking pots with ledge rims (Fig. 11:6–8) similar to Types 1A and 2 from Horbat ʽAqav (Calderon 2000:95–96, Pl. III:53); and a group of closed Kefar Hananya cooking pots of Type 4A (Fig. 11:9) and Type 4B (Fig. 11:10–12). Several bag-shaped jars with a wide, everted rim (Fig. 11:13), which were common in the first century BCE, up to approximately 70 CE, were also found; however, most of the jars were of the Sikhin type, which are characterized by a ridged neck, an inner gutter rim and a carinated shoulder, such as the complete jar found in Tomb 116 (Fig. 11:14), and date from the second century to the late third century CE (Adan-Bayewitz and Perlman 1990:170). Juglets characteristic of the Roman period were also found (Fig. 11:15–17).
Burial Cave E, which was discovered when a bulldozer damaged its eastern wall, was documented but not excavated (Figs. 12, 13). The cave was hewn in chalk bedrock and consisted of a rectangular chamber (E; length 6 m, width 3.4 m, height 2 m), four loculi (E1–E4) hewn in the northern wall, two loculi in the western wall (E5, E6) and one loculus in the southern wall (E7), which was found blocked with stones. Scattered human bones were inside the loculi (length 2.3 m, width 1.1 m, height 1.2 m). A sarcophagus and a lid made of limestone (Fig. 14) were found beside the southern wall of the rectangular chamber. The lid, which is gabled with acroteria in all four corners, was found pushed off to the side. The cave opening, in the northeast, at the end of an entrance passage (length c. 2 m), was found blocked with a rolling stone (Fig. 15). A Maltese cross was engraved (Fig. 16) on the lintel facing the rolling stone. It was impossible to date the first use of the cave; its opening was blocked with the rolling stone presumably during the Byzantine period.
The finds point to a long-standing burial tradition on a high bedrock terrace outside the ancient settlement at Naʽura. Interments probably began in the Intermediate Bronze Age, continued in the MB II and LB, and were renewed, after a prolonged hiatus, in the Roman and Byzantine periods.
The Bronze Age tombs are further evidence of a settlement during these periods, meager remains of which were found in an excavation in the streambed (Covello-Paran 2014). Evidence of a settlement during the LB is inferred from the fragment of a female plaque figurine (Fig. 17) that was found during an antiquities inspection carried out in a lot c. 200 m south of the current excavation. These figurines were common in the southern Levant during the LB (Kletter, Covello-Paran and Saarelainen 2010:17).
Over the centuries, between the LB and the Early Roman period, weathering and erosion probably obscured the topography, creating a rock fall on the hillslope that contained remains of the tombs and the funerary offerings. At the beginning of the Roman period, when the inhabitants returned to bury there, they dug their graves in the rock fall and into the remains of the ancient tombs. Beside the pit tombs, they interred their dead in a burial cave, a phenomenon known at many sites, such as the one excavated nearby (Permit No. A-7318) and at sites in the center of the country (Gorzalczany 2010).