In January 2018, an excavation was conducted in the fields to the east of Kibbutz Newe Ur in the Bet She’an Valley (Permit No. A-8168; map ref. 253609–640/721790–800; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Israel Natural Gas Lines Company, was directed by Y. Tsur, with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), V. Essman (surveying and drafting), M. Peleg (photography and photogrammetry), A. Shapiro (GPS), N. Getzov and K. Covello-Paran (scientific guidance) and laborers from Nazareth and Nof Ha-Galil (Nazrat ‘Illit).
The ancient site of Newe Ur is located in an agricultural field between Kibbutz Newe Ur and Tel Kittan, on the upper Ghor terrace above the Jordan River, on a bed of sedimentary lisan formation rock (thickness 0.4–0.5 m) originating from the alluvial fan of Nahal Tavor. The site was discovered by kibbutz members and was first surveyed in the 1950s (Fig. 2; Tzori 1958; Perrot, Zori and Reich 1967); the site had not been excavated prior to the current excavation. Past excavations at nearby Tel Kittan uncovered settlement strata dating from the Chalcolithic period, the Early, Middle and Late Bronze Ages and the seventh century CE, as well as a burial ground dating from the Medieval and Ottoman periods (HA 1975).
Four excavation squares located c. 40 m apart were opened in two areas (A and B; Fig. 3). In Area A yielded habitation levels and remains of walls and floors belonging to three superimposed architectural phases (A3–A1), all dated to the Late Chalcolithic period (5,800 BCE). Area B contained a pit from the Late Chalcolithic period. In May 2018, a subsequent excavation in Area B uncovered a Late Chalcolithic settlement layer (Freikman and Gutfeld 2021
Area A (Fig. 4)
Phase A3 (Fig. 5). A human activity level sloping from west to east was partially uncovered (L125; Fig. 6); it was founded on the sedimentary rock. The level consisted of clay mixed with crushed limestone and flint-knapping debris, and it bore potsherds, as well as stone and flint tools from the Late Chalcolithic period.
Phase A2 (Fig. 5). A floor (L127) and three parallel walls (W115, W118, W128) were uncovered. Floor 127 was made of clay mixed with crushed limestone and flint; depressions of unknown function were dug into it. It abutted Walls 115 and 128, which had a foundation of two rows of small fieldstones that carried courses of mud bricks. Wall 115 was preserved to a height of three courses—one foundation course and two mud brick courses—whereas W118 was preserved to the height of a single mud brick course. Wall 128 was built of a row of fieldstones and was probably added to thicken W118.
Phase A1 (Figs. 7, 8). The preservation of this phase was fragmentary, as it had been badly damaged by modern farm work. A habitation level (L103) was revealed below topsoil. A wall (W126) was built of limestone fieldstones, only three of which were preserved. This wall was abutted by a floor (L103) made of clay and crushed limestone on a bedding of river pebbles, potsherds and stone tools (L108). An oven (L120; Fig. 9) built on the floor yielded burnt remains, including organic material and a crushed basin. Another wall (W110) was built of at least one course of limestone fieldstones; the wall probably continued beyond the limits of the current excavation.
A shallow, irregularly shaped pit (L213; depth 0.3–0.4 m; Figs. 10, 11) was dug into alluvial soil. The pit was apparently filled with refuse in a later phase. It yielded abundant pottery sherds and stone tools; fragments of mud bricks found near the pit may belong to walls or installations built beyond the limits of the current excavation area.
The pottery assemblage from both excavation areas includes numerous storage vessels, especially jars and pithoi, as well as several bowls. Some of the vessels are decorated with a rope decoration or red slip. The flint assemblage includes c. 20 backed sickle blades as well as end scrapers and several bifacial tools, such as chisels. The stoneware assemblage comprises some 40 items, mostly fragments of basalt chalices, weights and grinding stones. Initial analysis indicates that all the pottery and flint tools are characteristic of the Late Chalcolithic Ghassulian culture. The material culture discovered at the site is similar to that discovered at other sites in the region. Furthermore, surveys conducted in the fields near the site recovered multiple finds scattered across a large area, indicating the existence of a large Late Chalcolithic settlement at the site.
Freikman M. and Gutfeld O. 2021. Newe Ur. HA-ESI 133
HA 1975. Tel Kittan. HA-ESI 54–55:8–10 (Hebrew).
Perrot J., Zori N. and Reich Y. 1967. Neve Ur, un nouvel aspect du Ghassoulien. IEJ 17:201–232.
Tzori N. 1958. Neolithic and Chalcolithic Sites in the Valley of Beth-Shan. PEQ 90:44–51.