During January 2011, a trial excavation was conducted in a residential area on the eastern slope of Tel ‘Afula (Permit No. A-6364; map ref. 227296–346/723924–74; Fig. 1), in the wake of plans for construction on the site. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the lot owner, was directed by H. Bron (surveying and field photography), with the assistance of Y. Laban (administration), and H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing).
A number of excavations have been carried out at different areas of the tell from 1948 until today (Sukenik 1948; Dothan 1955). Two of the more recent excavations (HA-ESI 118
, HA-ESI 121
) are relevant to the current one as they are located in close proximity. These excavations revealed a multi layered site, with building remains and funerary deposits, which was occupied during the Chalcolithic, Early and Intermediate Bronze and Iron Ages, and the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Mamluk periods. The excavation followed probe trenches that exposed signs of possible antiquities.
Two squares (A1, A2; Fig. 2), aligned north–south and 10 m apart, were opened. No architectural remains were discerned, but several soil levels (3–1) with mixed potsherds that covered two partially exposed pits dating to the Roman period, were revealed. The topsoil layer (thickness c. 1.5 m) was removed with the aid of mechanical equipment prior to the beginning of the excavation
Level 3 (Sq A1, L100; Sq A2, L101). In both squares, this layer is composed of dark grayish compact matrix and contains a considerable amount of potsherds. These include a rim of a cooking vessel (Fig. 3:1), holemouth jars (Fig. 3:2–4) and a storage jar (Fig. 3:5) of the Early Bronze Age, as well as small fragments of gray-burnished vessels (Fig. 3:6, 7) dating to Early Bronze IA.
The Intermediate Bronze Age (IBA) is represented by enveloped ledge handles (Fig. 3:8, 9), and a cooking vessel (Fig. 3:10).
Level 2 (Sq 1, L102, L104; Sq 2, L103). An intrusion layer in Sq 1 (L102) was probably the result of modern mechanical activity. Below it was a dark brown reddish compact layer with pebble-sized stones and a large amount of potsherds. The same layer was also discerned in Sq 2 (L103). The EBA potsherds included a bowl rim fragment with incisions (Fig. 3:11) and a ledge handle (Fig. 3:12); the IBA potsherds, embedded in this layer and enhance its mixed character, consisted of a folded ledge handle (Fig. 3:13) and a storage jar (Fig. 3:14).
Level 1 is represented by two pits (L105, L106; Figs. 4, 5), dug within the reddish dark brown layer of Level 2, which contain dark gray compact soil that tends to become muddy because of the high level of ground water in the area. The pits were excavated down to sterile soil and ground-water level; some bone fragments and potsherds were recovered, including a gray burnished fragment (Fig. 3:15), three bowls (Fig. 3:16–18) and a holemouth jar (Fig. 3:19). Roman potsherds were retrieved from the lowest levels of the pits, including a cooking pot (Fig. 3:20) and a storage jar (Fig. 3:21).
The excavation did not reveal any architectural remains or agricultural installations. The excavation sheds light on the extant of the Tell in the earlier periods and it seems to be beyond the settlement boundaries of the Early and Intermediate Bronze Ages. During the Roman period, pits were dug as shown by the pottery. The purpose of the pits is not clear, but they could be either refuse or sewage pits.
Dothan M. 1955. Excavations at ‘Afula. ‘Atiqot (ES) 1:19–70.
Sukenik E.L. 1948. Archaeological Investigations at ‘Affūla. JPOS 21:1–78.