In May–June 2009, a salvage excavation was conducted in Area I at ‘En Esur (‘Ein Asawir), at the outlet of Nahal Hadera from Wadi ‘Ara to the coastal plain (Permit No. A-5440; map ref. 201718–850/709501–47), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by A. Amit, was directed by E. Yannai (field photography), with the assistance of S. Ya‘aqov–Jam (administration) and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting).
The site of ‘En Esur was previously excavated in eight areas over the course of three seasons (Yannai 2006
; Fig. 1:A–H); the current excavation was in the ninth area (Area I) at this protohistoric site. Another excavation was conducted in an additional area at the site, yielding impressive buildings dating to EB IB (Permit No. A-5517; Fig. 1:J).
Area I was located c. 200 m northwest of Area G and north of Area H, on the high part of ‘En Esur, slightly east of flat hilltop in the westernmost part of the site. The top layer was damaged by cultivation. Four squares (B3, B4, C3, C4: Fig. 2) were opened. The two southern squares were excavated down to virgin soil. Eight settlement strata ranging from the Wadi Rabah culture until the end of the EB IB were exposed in those two squares. Most of the strata yielded stone foundations of dwellings, usually round walls that were poorly preserved. A decorated jar containing an infant burial was found below the floor of one of the buildings.
A shallow natural channel (L9023, Stratum VIII) was exposed in virgin soil. The channel and the finds inside it were covered by a lime floor (L9022, Stratum VII; Fig. 3). Stratum VII was revealed in the northern part of Sq C4 and its southeastern corner where a curved wall of a building (W20; diam. 4–5 m) was exposed. Two floors abutted the wall: a lower floor (L9022) and a slightly higher floor (L9012). A pit (L9024) penetrated both floors. A jar containing the skeleton of an infant was exposed inside the pit (Fig. 4). Another curved wall (W14, Stratum VI) was built above W20 (Stratum VII). Additional remains from Stratum VI were identified in several sections: east (L9013) and west (L9020) of a wall (W21), and north of W14 (L9016). The jar from Stratum VI was covered by an earthen floor (L9009) that seems to have been built immediately after the burial of the jar; the floor was found in its entirety. Both are attributed to Stratum VI. Two walls (W19, W22) are ascribed to Stratum V. Both walls were abutted by fill comprised of stratified levels of pottery sherds. A wall (W17) was erected in Stratum IV above W21 (Stratum VI) and above W19 (Stratum V). Slightly above W17 was a wall (W16) that was ascribed to Stratum III. The latest building in the area was a round structure (diam. c. 2 m; W10, Stratum II; Fig. 5).
On the basis of the ceramic finds, Stratum VIII, the earliest stratum at the site, belongs to the Wadi Rabah culture (7,000 YBP), which was contemporary with Stratum VI in Area B. Several fragments of bow-rim jars, grooved sherds, rope ornamentations, painted decorations and a fragment of a DFBW vessel were found. In the settlement debris above Lime Floor 9022 of Stratum VII were several sherds from the Early Chalcolithic period, but these did not constitute an archaeological layer. The earliest architectural layer, Stratum VII, is from EB IA. It yielded potsherds that are identical to those from Stratum III in Area B. These included fragments of an early type of gray bowls, characteristic of this period. The other strata (VI–II) are EB IB in date. They yielded potsherds identical to those from Stratum II in Area B.
The excavation in Area I contributed important information about the ancient site. The settlement remains reached a depth of 3.5 m, and all of the area that was excavated was very densely built-up. The excavation showed that the western hill was densely inhabited during all phases of EB I. The ancient settlement of the Wadi Rabah culture and the Early Chalcolithic period did not extend across the western hill in Area I. These finds are of great significance together with the finds from these periods in Area G, c. 200 to the east. On the basis of the finds in these two areas, it seems that the boundary of the settlement of the Wadi Rabah culture and in the Chalcolithic period passed between them. In EB I, the settlement extended across all of the areas that were excavated to date, apparently covering approximately five hundred dunams.