During February 2004 a salvage excavation was conducted in Sulam (Tel Shunem) (Permit No. A-4101; map ref. NIG 2315/7237; OIG 1815/2237), following the discovery of ancient remains during the construction of a house. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by K. Covello-Paran, with the assistance of V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and H. Tahan (drawing).
Sulam is located in the Yizra‘el valley, at the foot of Giv‘at Ha-More, next to Nahal Shunem. A modern cemetery is located on a tell of 25 dunams that stands in the center of the village. The archaeological site is identified with ancient Shunem, mentioned in both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources. The site has been extensively surveyed in the past (Map of ‘En Dor , Site 37) and numerous small-scale excavations have been conducted at the site on behalf of the Antiquities Authority.
A single square (4 × 6 m) was excavated to a depth of 1 m, exposing two strata dated to the Roman period and Early Bronze Age IA.
Prior to the excavation, a 1.5 m overburden of sterile alluvial soil was removed with the aid of mechanical equipment. Directly below this soil architectural features, dating to the Roman period (Stratum I) and the Early Bronze Age IA (Stratum II), were revealed.
This stratum was primarily represented by pits that penetrated into the ruins of the Stratum II building. The finds included potsherds, animal bones, tessarae, marble fragments, coins and a striated ‘Olynthus’ basalt millstone.
Part of a building was excavated (Fig. 1). A long wall, traversing the excavation square on a north–south axis, was constructed from both a single row of large stones and two rows of medium-sized stones, with a core of smaller filler stones. The wall was abutted by a semicircular stone-built platform and a living surface. The platform was apparently placed at a corner between the long wall and a probable wall, running in an east–west direction and due north of the excavated area. The long wall and the platform were preserved to a maximum of 0.5 m high. Potsherds dating to the Early Bronze Age IA were associated with the living surface.
The architectural remains of the earliest Early Bronze Age I occupation were exposed for the first time at the site during the present excavation, previously known only from surface reconnaissance. The location of these remains, beyond the reconstructed line of the Middle Bronze Age fortification, suggests that the MB II settlement receded when compared to the EB I occupation, at least in the northeastern area of the site.
The Roman-period pits are suggestive of various activities adjacent to the agricultural fields in the area, topographically lower than the main part of the site.
Furthermore, the excavations have, once again, exhibited the existence of archaeological sites ‘buried’ below alluvial soils that are seemingly sterile along the margins of the valley.