Area P is located at the southern outskirts of the large proto-historic site (c. 650 dunams) of ‘En Esur, to the south of Tel Esur (Fig. 2). A stream originating from the eponymous spring (also known as ‘En Arubot) flows through this area toward its confluence with Naẖal ‘Iron. North of the stream, remains belonging to the outskirts of an Early Bronze Age IB settlement were excavated, and they will be discussed in future publications. South of the stream, three sub-areas were opened (P1, P5, P6; Fig. 3), revealing remains and finds dating from the Iron Age and the Roman and Byzantine periods; they are presented in this final report. Approximately 50 squares were excavated in the three areas, most in Area P1. In some squares, only stone debris was observed with no apparent architectural remains. The remains in the three areas, particularly in Area P1, were covered with layers of soil and alluvium.
Previous excavations conducted at the site and on the mound uncovered abundant remains dating from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods (Sa‘id 2011; Elad and Paz 2018, see here for general background on the site and further references therein; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2018; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2019; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2020a; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2020b; Elad and Sánchez Streger 2022).
Stratum 4 (Fig. 4). In a small part of the area, the poor remains of a field wall (W60172; length 5 m, width 0.8 m) were uncovered. It was curved, built of medium-sized stones, and had an ambiguous outer face. Collapsed stones were found on the western side of the wall’s northern end (L60175). Worn ribbed potsherds (not drawn) were found while cleaning the wall’s stones.
Stratum 3 (Fig. 4). The excavation uncovered two segments of a water channel, a wall (W60074) and a floor (L60043). Both segments of the channel (width 1.6–4.0 m; Fig. 5) were flanked by walls (W60115, W60144, W60146, W60163). These walls consisted of a single row of medium-sized stones with dressed outer faces, preserved 1–2 courses high. Between the walls, a white mud plaster floor (L60139, L60162) was set above bedding of undressed medium-sized stones. A soil accumulation (L60131) northwest of the channel’s southern segment yielded several Roman potsherds, including a jar rim (Fig. 6:5). A section cut through the channel’s floor (L60173) yielded a Roman period jar fragment (Fig. 6:6). Numerous river pebbles, shells, and small, worn non-diagnostic potsherds were found on and beside the channel floor.
Wall 60074 (length c. 12 m, width c. 0.8 m) was poorly preserved. It was oriented north–south and built two rows of medium-sized fieldstones and dressed stones, some in secondary use. Walls 60074 and 60115 were abutted by a tamped earth floor (L60116) overlain by poorly preserved remnants of a thin white mortar layer. Wall 60074 was probably built to protect the water channel.
Floor 60043 (c. 3 × 4 m) was poorly preserved. It was made of small stones bonded with brown earth. No walls or architectural remains were found to abut the floor.
The remains of Stratum 3 were overlain by several layers of alluvial soil containing numerous stream pebbles and small, worn body fragments of ribbed pottery vessels. It seems that when the channel went out of use, the area was covered with alluvial soil from the stream.
Stratum 2 (Fig. 7). The eastern part of the area produced a moderately well-preserved surface made of small and medium-sized fieldstones (L60042; 4 × 7 m). The stone surface and its environs yielded sparse finds and no diagnostic pottery. Ribbed jar body fragments found among the stones in the surface suggest that it should be dated to the Roman or Byzantine period.
Stratum 1 (Fig. 7). An east–west oriented wall (W60014; length 2.5 m, width 0.9 m) was uncovered in the western part of the area. It was preserved one course high and built two rows of medium-sized stones with a core of earth and rubble. It was abutted from the south by an extensive stone surface bonded with soil (L60016; Fig. 8). Body fragments of ribbed jars were found embedded in the surface. A similar surface (L60015; 1.2 × 4.0 m) was also uncovered in the eastern part of the excavation area.
A northwest–southeast oriented wall (W60048; length 7 m, width 1.4–1.8 m, height 0.9 m; Figs. 9, 10) was uncovered in Area P5. It was preserved three courses high and built of large dressed and undressed stones interspersed with soil and gravel. Two probes on the wall’s northern side (L60076, L60096) yielded few worn sherds. Ribbed potsherds dating from no earlier than the Roman or Byzantine periods were found between the wall stones.
Remains of a stone detritus (L60093; 4 × 7 m; Fig. 11) were found embedded inside a layer of grayish soil. Meager pottery sherds from Iron Age IIB were recovered while dismantling some of the stones on the northern side of these remains (L60153), in the soil accumulations above their southern side (L60134), and on their northwestern side (L60087). These sherds include two bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2), a krater (Fig. 6:3) and a jar (Fig. 6:4).
Based on the sparse pottery finds, Strata 4 and 3 in Area P1 probably date from the Roman period. Based on the ribbed jar body fragments, Strata 2 and 1 in the same area may be dated to the Roman or Byzantine period, at the earliest. All the remains in Area P seem to have been associated with agricultural activity near Naẖal ‘Iron. The absence of additional remains associated with the large wall in Area P5 renders any interpretation of its use difficult. Although the wall was well-built, it probably served an agricultural purpose, perhaps a dam, facilitating activity in the surrounding region during the Roman or Byzantine period at the earliest.