During December 2006, a trial excavation was conducted at Sulam (Tel Shunem; Permit No. A-4973; map ref. NIG 23166/72348; OIG 18166/22348;HA-ESI 118, HA-ESI 120), in the wake of exposing ancient remains during the building of a house. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by E. Amos (surveying and photography), with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), N. Getzov (guidance) and H. Tahan (drawing).
One square was excavated on the southern slope of the tell, in the vicinity of the spring in the middle of the village. Four strata were discerned; building remains from the Ottoman (Stratum I) and the Mamluk (Stratum II) periods were discovered. A gray layer from the Crusader period was exposed in Stratum III and a wall that was probably built before the Early Islamic period was found in Stratum IV (Fig. 1).
Stratum I (Ottoman period). Two sub-phases were noted. A section of an open area was exposed in the later phase; its pavement of medium-sized limestone slabs (L2; 3.2 × 5.0 m; Fig. 2) was laid on a bedding of fieldstones. Potsherds of Rashaya el-Fukhar and Gaza wares, which dated to the beginning of the nineteenth century CE, were discovered on and in the stone floor, when dismantled. The large number of animal bones on the floor suggests that some activity involving animals was conducted in the area. A thick brown layer of soil that belonged to the early phase (L6; seventeenth–eighteenth centuries CE) yielded potsherds and a pipe.
Stratum II (Mamluk period; thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE). Collapsed limestone masonry stones (L7), a wall (W8) and a tamped chalk floor (L9; Fig. 3) were exposed. The stone collapse rested on Floor 9, which was inclined in the direction of the slope toward the south. Wall 8, oriented east–west and built of one row of stones, was preserved a single course high (exposed length 2.5 m, width 0.35 m, preserved height 0.25 m). The wall was founded on a layer of brown soil that had accumulated on Floor 9. It seems that the wall was built after the stone collapse had been lying on the floor. The ceramic artifacts in the stratum included a glazed bowl decorated with incising (Fig. 4:1), glazed bowls (Fig. 4:2, 3), a krater (Fig. 4:4), a cooking pot (Fig. 4:5), jars (Fig. 4:6, 7) and a handmade jug decorated with brownish red stripes (Fig. 4:8).
Stratum III (Crusader period; twelfth century CE). A thick layer of ash, soot and burnt earth levels in various colors (L10; thickness c. 1 m; Fig. 5) was exposed. The levels, inclined with the slope southward, indicate a prolonged period of activity that was associated with burning, possibly a kiln. The ceramic finds dated to the Crusader period and included glazed bowls (Fig. 4:9, 10), a cooking pot (Fig. ) and a lamp (Fig. ).
Stratum IV. A wall (W11), aligned east–west and preserved three courses high (length 2.5 m, width 0.65 m; Figs. 6, 7) was exposed. An accumulation of brown soil (L12) that contained potsherds, ranging in date from the Roman until the Early Islamic periods was discovered next to the southern face of W11. The potsherds included a jar from the Roman period (third century CE; Fig. ), a bowl and a jar from the Byzantine period (Fig. , 15) and a jar and a red-painted body fragment from the Early Islamic period (Fig. , 17).