Area B – A Cemetery from the Mamluk Period
One hundred and twelve tombs that were dug in the hard hamra soil were exposed. The crowded tombs, 1.5–2.0 m apart, were found in several levels at a general depth of 0.6 m below surface. Half of the tombs were pit graves without a cover or tombstone. Two of the tombs were rectangular, lined with bricks (1 × 2 m) and covered with 5–6 brick capstones placed on top of the tomb. The other half of the tombs were not lined and covered with 4–5 gray clay bricks, mixed with potsherds. All the deceased were placed on their right side, their heads to the west and faces to the south, in the direction of Mecca. The dating of the cemetery is based on the potsherds found inside the clay bricks that lined and covered the tombs. Most of these fragments were ribbed potsherds that dated to the Byzantine period. Three potsherds from the Mamluk period, decorated with a dark green and yellow glaze, dated the cemetery to this era.
Areas A and C – Early Bronze IV Cemetery
One hundred thirty-four tombs, dug into hamra soil that was as hard as bedrock, were exposed. Some of the tombs were damaged by the development activities, but most of them were found intact. Each tomb consisted of three components: a cylindrical entrance shaft (diam. 1.2 m, depth 3 m), a short narrow passage and a burial chamber accessed via the passage. The burial chambers had various shapes and sizes (length 1–2 m); most were oval and a few were round (Figs. 1, 2). Most of the tombs had a single burial chamber for each shaft; in three of the tombs a common shaft served two burial chambers. Complete skeletons were found, although the state of the bones was very poor.
The heads of most deceased faced the opening and their backs were set against the side of the chamber. Alongside the deceased pottery vessels and often bronze artifacts and beads were found. The assemblage of pottery vessels at Bet Dagan is similar to the vessels found in the excavations at Horshim (‘Atiqot 21:1–8 [Hebrew]), at the Azor cemetery (‘Atiqot 55:1–28 [Hebrew]), at Benaya (Permit No. &-16/1962) and at Holon (Permit No. A-566). All the pottery vessels had a flat base and a combed decoration; they resembed the pottery vessels that prevailed in the southern region of the Land of Israel. None of the pottery vessels had a globular body and a round base, which were typical of the northern coastal plain. The decoration of the vessels was done by incising, stamping, combing and application. Most of the vessels were decorated with horizontal incising or combing, done by hand. A few vessels had a combed or incised decoration and applied lugs. The incised decoration on several of the lamps, known so far only in the Ayyalon basin, was not found in other regions of the Land of Israel.