During August 2004, another season of excavations was conducted at Tel ‘En Gev (License No. G-60/2004; map ref. NIG 2599–2601/7432–33; OIG 2099–2101/2432–33). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Japanese Expedition for the Archaeology of the Land of Israel and funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in Japan, was directed by A. Tsukimoto, M. Okita and N. Yamauchi. The excavation team included Y. Paz (Israeli liaison), K. Hirakawa, H. Hino, D.T. Sugimoto, H. Kuwabara, S. Miyazaki (field supervision), S. Hasegawa (registration), F. Chiwaya, Y. Iburi (surveying and drafting), H. Nakano (photography) and G. Avivi (administration). The late Prof. M. Kochavi of Tel Aviv University was one of the excavation directors and advised the Japanese team.
The Iron Age Large Building (Fig. 1). A large Iron Age building (c. 10 × 13 m) was exposed at the northeastern part of the mound (Sqs O–R/5–7; Fig. 2). Its southern wall (W432) was perpendicular to the inner wall of the Iron Age casemate wall (W106) and its western wall (W492) was parallel to W106 (Fig. 3). Its northern wall is assumed to have been the inner wall of the northern casemate wall (W455; width 1.6–2.0 m). The building consisted of six rectangular rooms, three on the western side (L450, L500, L502; 1.5–2.0 × 4.0 m each), two in the middle (L382—c. 2 × 4 m; L454—2.0 × 3.5 m) and one on the eastern side (L374—3 × 9 m). The layout of the rooms is similar to that of the corner towers in the casemate fortification system of Tel Yizra’el (Levant 26, 1994, Figs. 33, 40), where the towers protruded out from the casemate wall. No floors were detected in the rooms, yet the accumulated debris, which was similar to that in the casemate rooms, yielded burnt brick material and a large amount of potsherds dating to the ninth–eighth centuries BCE. It is possible that the building served as the basement floor of an upper structure that might be defined as a tower or a bastion built of mud bricks. The outer walls of the building were over 1 m wide and the southwestern part was lined with ashlars. The building postdated the casemate wall and both probably functioned as a revetment for a raised podium, on which the tripartite pillared buildings stood, yet the date of its construction is not clear.
The Early Tripartite Pillared Buildings. This building was further exposed in Sqs OP8 and P10. The northern outer wall of the complex (W431) was uncovered in Sq O8. A wall (W505), which divided the northern and the central pillared buildings, was exposed in Sq P10. It had a stone foundation, superimposed by two rows of mud bricks (0.25 × 0.36 m) in three courses.
The dividing wall between the central and southern rooms of the northern tripartite building (W497; Sqs P10–11) had two phases. In the earlier phase, the wall was constructed from either rectangular or round-shaped stone pillars with cobbles placed between them. In the later phase, a stone structure was added to the northern side and it was turned into a solid wall (width 0.8 m).
The elevation of the stone pavement (L504) in the southern room of the northern tripartite building was exposed at a higher level than the top level of the stone foundation of W505 (Fig. 4). It indicates that the stone pavement of the room abutted the mud-brick superstructure of the wall.
Hellenistic Remains (Fig. 5). A rectangular building (L464; 2 × 4 m) was exposed in Sqs OP6. Its eastern wall (W446) abutted Wall 480, which is thought to have been a city-wall during the Hellenistic period. In general, each unit of the earlier Hellenistic buildings at the site measured 4 × 4 m, whereas the later ones measured 2 × 4 m. This may suggest that Building 464 belongs to the later Hellenistic phase.
A large pit (L507; depth 1.5 m) in Sq O5 was detected on the northern side of the enclosing wall (W480) of the settlement. A large building was partially excavated at the top of the mound (Sq P10). It was badly damaged by trenches cut during the independence war in 1948. Its northeastern wall (W490) was oriented northwest-southeast and to its south was a flagstone-paved floor (L476). If Wall 257 (width c. 1 m), south of this floor, formed the southern wall of this building, then the rectangular room (L476; 6 × 6 m) was the largest among all the Hellenistic building units at the site and thus might have served as a public building.
During this season, the preservation of the Iron Age remains was conducted in cooperation with the Department of Preservation of the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Iron Age remains, particularly the casemate wall and the tripartite buildings were restored and preserved for the prospective archaeological park at the site in memory of the late Gill Covo, who cooperated with the Japanese expedition as Israeli liaison for the first six excavation seasons.