Two adjacent squares were opened c. 20 m northeast of the tell, near the rockery that surrounds the tell (Figs. 2, 3). The northwestern part of the southern square was excavated, exposing the natural bedrock (L601) at a depth of 0.4–0.5 m below the surface. Remains of a wall were visible in the northern corner of the square, but because of its poor state of preservation it was not possible to determine its direction or nature (Fig. 4). A broad wall (W602; width 1.5 m) was exposed in the northern square. It was built of small and medium-sized stones placed directly on the natural bedrock (L600) that is very friable in this area. The wall was oriented in a southwest–northeast direction; it consisted of one course, except for the southeastern end where a second course was also exposed (Fig. 5). After removing the collapsed stones from the western side of the wall (L603), a dense layer of stones (width c. 0.9 m) was revealed; it was clearly visible in the western section of the square. This could very likely have been the first course of W602, but because of the poor state of preservation it was not possible to determine the relationship between the layer of stones and W602 (Fig. 6). Similarly, the mixed pottery assemblage of vessels discovered on the wall, between its stones and on the layer of stones was sufficient neither for determining the date of these elements nor for understanding the relationship between them. Another layer of stones (L604), perhaps remains of a wall that was perpendicular to W602, was exposed in the south of the square. The pottery from between the stones was all from the Middle Bronze Age II.
The excavation yielded fragments of pottery vessels from two periods: the Early Bronze Age II and the Middle Bronze Age II. It was impossible to separate the two periods in the remains of W602 and in the layer of stones alongside it because the loci were mixed; therefore, the ceramic finds are presented below typologically. The variety of ceramic vessels dating from the EB II is fairly meager. A bowl with a folded-in rim (Fig. 7:1) is common in northern sites, including in the EB II assemblage from Bet Yerah
(Eisenberg and Greenberg 2006
: Fig. 8.66:2) and at Tel Gat H
efer (Covello-Paran 2003
: Fig. 15:2). Of the three platter fragments with an almost complete cross-section (Fig. 7:2–4), two bear red slip and are burnished; the third is made of coarse clay and has thick wall. Platters, particularly the burnished type, are characteristic of the EB II and are fairly widespread. Similar vessels were found at the top of Tel Gat H
efer, at tells in the valley, such as Tel Qashish, and at Bet Yerah
: Fig. 17:5, 6; Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003
: Figs. 37:6, 7; 40:4–7; Eisenberg and Greenberg 2006
: Fig. 8.84:2). Some of the platters from this period are decorated on the inside with a reticulated pattern or a red painted decoration, as seen on the body fragment in Fig. 7:5; a complete platter with the same design was found at Tel Qashish (Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003
: Fig. 36:2). Jars are the predominant type of vessel in the EB II repertoire at the site. All of the loci yielded numerous jar fragments; these comprised mainly of bases of various sizes (Fig. 7:7–9). One of the features characteristic of jars from this period is a combed pattern of lines running up and down the surface of the vessel (Fig. 7:6). A red-slipped and burnished object (Fig. 7:10), probably the leg of an animal figurine, was also found. Animal figurines were very common during the EB II. The excavations at Bet Yerah
yielded a rich assemblage of animal figurines, most of which represented donkeys, an important animal that was used as a beast of burden in everyday life and work (Paz 2014
:245–249, Fig. 6.7:33, 34).
The MB IIA–B is represented by a considerable quantity of pottery and a richer assortment of vessels. These include a characteristic MB IIA bowl with a folded-out rim (Fig. 8:1), similar to those found in Strata XXV and XXIVa at Tel Yoqneʽam (Livneh 2005
:256, Fig. IV.2:15, 16, Type BCIIh), and a closed bowl of Cypriot origin (Fig. 8:2) with an especially thin wall that bears the remains of white slip and a black register adorned with triangles. The register motif is known in the MB IIA–B IIB and is even more widespread in the Late Bronze Age. The decorated vessels are usually closed carinated bowls, kraters and jugs. Similar vessels, some of which are adorned with an identical pattern, were found in Stratum IXc at Tel Qashish (Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003
: Fig. 78:1, 5). An open bowl with a thin, everted wall and a sharp carination in the middle of the vessel (Fig. 8:3) is very typical of the later part of the MB II; it appears mainly in tombs, e.g. Tomb 229 at Tel Gat H
efer and at Ginnosar (Epstein 1974
: Fig. 10; Alexandre, Covello-Paran and Gal 2003
: Fig. 8:1). The kraters (Fig. 8:4, 5) have an everted wall and a curved base, characteristic of the period; they date to both MB II phases, as evidenced by the kraters from Tel Yoqneʽam (Ben-Ami and Livneh 2005
: Fig. IV.6:10).
The cooking pots from Tel Gat H
efer (Figs. 8:6, 7) are open vessels characterized by an upright or everted neck and a ridge (Fig. 8:6) or a plastic decoration affixed to the upper third of the vessel (Fig. 8:7). These vessels differ from the rest of the Middle Bronze pottery, as they are handmade from a particularly coarse clay. They are very common at all of the sites in the north of the country, and their large numbers stand out in the assemblages from the valley, as for example at Tel Qashish, Tel Yoqneʽam and Megiddo (Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003
: Figs. 79:2; 81:8, 16; Ben-Ami and Livneh 2005
:270–271, Fig. IV.8:1–3; Loud 1948
: Pl. 9:19). The open cooking pots appear throughout the MB II.
The pithoi (Fig. 8:8–16) are the predominant vessels in the assemblage; they all have a thickened rim and an elongated body. The pithos that is characteristic of the last phase of the MB II (Fig. 8:8) has a grooved rim; similar vessels were found in Stratum XXI at Tel Yoqneʽam. According to Bonfil (1992
:30–31), this type of pithos (Vd) appears only in the tells situated in the valley: Tel Qashish and Tell Yoqneʽam. Another pithos (Fig. 8:9) has a triangular rim and a wide mouth; this type appears throughout the MB II until the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (Type Vc according to Bonfil 1992
), based on several items found in Stratum XX at Yoqneʽam, dating from the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. On the other hand, Bonfil (1992
:29–30) demonstrates that the pithoi with folded rims that curve out date from the end of the MB II. Other pithoi (Fig. 8:11–13) have a high, everted neck and an everted, thickened rim with an inner groove, probably for accommodating a lid. These jars were in use from the beginning of the MB IIA until the end of the period. Another type of pithos, with a ledge rim and high neck (Fig. 8:14), first appeared during the transition phase from the MB IIA to the MB IIB and continued to be in use until the LB II; similar vessels were found in Stratum XXIII at Tel Yoqneʽam (Ben-Ami and Livneh 2005
:287, Fig. IV.11:12, Type PII). Another type of pithos has a thickened rim that is grooved in the center (Fig. 8:15); these are similar to the pithoi found on the tell (Alexandre, Covello-Paran and Gal 2003
: Fig. 7:3, 4). Another pithos with a stepped rim (Fig. 8:16) is dated to the MB IIA; a similar jar was found on Tel Yoqneʽam (Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003
: Fig. 143:25). A base bearing thick red slip that was neatly burnished belongs a jug (Fig. 8:17). Burnished jugs are characteristic of the MB IIA and appear primarily in tombs. A double handle (Fig. 8:18), and sometimes even a triple handle, is one of the distinct features of the MB II and appears in both phases of this period.
Surveys and excavations carried out on Tel Gat H
efer indicate that the site was inhabited throughout the Early Bronze Age and reached a peak during the EB III, when the city was surrounded by a wall and was part of the chain of settlements along Nah
ippori (Gal 1992
:54–55). The settlement on the mound was renewed at the beginning of the MB IIA and continued until the end of the period (Alexandre, Covello-Paran and Gal 2003
:168). The finds from the current excavation corroborate this picture. The function of W602 is unclear; it may have been part of the wall that encircled the tell during the MB II. Excavation in the vicinity of Tel Gat H
efer exposed MB II rural sites, such as Migdal Ha-ʽEmeq, and contemporaneous tombs, such as at T
urʽan. These are probably indicative of ‘daughter’ sites that existed around a larger settlement, possibly Tel Gat H