Part of a Late Bronze Age IIB cemetery was excavated (80 sq m; Figs. 2, 3), and remains of twenty-one pit graves were discovered. The graves were hewn in travertine (T1–T21) and were not uniformly aligned. Four types of graves were discerned: regular pit graves; pit graves with cover, or marked by a row of fieldstones; pit graves with a mud-brick covering the deceased; and pit graves that were partially lined with mud-bricks.
Regular Pit Graves. Tomb T3 was partially exposed, but its southern part continued beyond the limits of the excavation area (Fig. 4). The outline of Tomb T5 was irregular and its northern part cut into the western part of Tomb T10. The outline of Tomb T6 was also irregular; its western part was triangular so as to conform to the space between Tombs T4 and T5, and its eastern part was damaged by a trial trench. At least three pottery vessels were placed as grave offerings above the deceased in Tomb T7. A bowl with a slightly curved wall and flat base (Fig. 5:1) was found in the eastern part of the tomb and a concentration of sherds, including the ring bases of two jugs (Fig. 5:2, 3) were found in its western part. The southern part of Tomb T9 was excavated, but its northern part continued outside the excavation area. A cooking pot with curved everted rim and flat base (Fig. 5:4) was recovered from the excavated part of the tomb. Tomb T10, which had a rectangular outline, and was severed in the west by Tomb T5, and damaged in the east by the trial trench. Tombs T11, T14–T18 and T21 all had rectangular outlines. Fragments of a jug with disc base (Fig.6:1) were found in Tomb T14. A bowl with a slightly curved wall and flat base (Fig. 6:2) was discovered in the western part of Tomb T15. A pinched lamp with deep saucer and a disc base (Fig. 6:3) was found in the northern part of Tomb T16. A bowl and a cooking pot that served as funerary offerings (Fig .7) were discovered in Tomb T18. The bowl had plain, somewhat curved rim (Fig. 8:1), while the cooking pot had curved wall, round everted rim and disc base (Fig. 8:2).
Pit Graves with Cover or Marked by a Row of Fieldstones. Tomb T1 was covered or marked by a row of limestone fieldstones that were placed on its eastern half (Fig. 9).
Pit Graves with Mud-Bricks Covering the Deceased. Tomb T2 was covered with partially preserved mud-bricks. Two ceramic funerary offerings were found on the bricks (Fig. 10)—a bowl with slightly curved wall and disc base (Fig. 11:1), and a juglet with spherical body, short neck, a handle drawn from the shoulder to the everted rim and disc base (Fig. 11:2). The outline of Tomb T4 was irregular. On the mud-brick covering, which was partly preserved in its southern part, was a jug made of pink clay with curved and out-folded rim, shoulder handle and ring base; the rim and the carination between the upper and lower body are marked with painted horizontal lines, connected by vertical lines (Fig. 11:3). Fragments of a jar with curved and everted rim (Fig. 11:4) were also found. Remains of mud-bricks that were placed over the deceased were found in Tomb T12, and a gently carinated bowl with ring base (Fig. 11:5) was found on the western side of the tomb. Remains of the mud-bricks that were placed above the deceased were found in Tombs T13 and T19; several sherds of pottery dating to the LB IIB were found above them.
Pit Graves Partially Lined with Mud-Bricks. The southern part of Tomb T8 was excavated, and its northern part was beyond the limits of the excavation area. The western part of the tomb was lined with sun-dried mud-bricks. In the excavated part were fragments of a jug with striped design on the shoulder and on the lower body below the level of the handle (Fig. 11:6). The southern part of Tomb T20 was excavated, and sun-dried mud-bricks were found to line its eastern side. Light-gray soil containing several MB and LB IIB pottery sherds accumulated above the tombs. The MB vessels included two large cooking bowls with thickened rims (Fig. 12:1, 2) and two jars (Fig. 12:3, 4). The LB IIB vessels are similar to the assemblages of funerary vessels that were found in the tombs, and included bowls with curved wall and plain rim (Fig.12:5–8), a jug with a shoulder handle and plain out-folded rim (Fig. 12:9) and two jars with out-folded triangular rim (Fig. 12:10, 11).
The cemetery at Tel Te’omim was partially excavated and four types of tombs that were in contemporaneous use were found. Pottery dates the cemetery to the LB IIB. Pit burials were a phenomenon that was already known in the Early Bronze Age IV, but in the Late Bronze Age they became extremely common and remaine in use through the Iron Age and even later (Gonen 1994
:80, 83; Buchennino and Yannai 2010
:36*). Most of the graves in the cemetery at Tel Te’omim are rectangular, and several have an irregular shape (length 1.2–2.6 m, width 0.3–1.0 m, depth 0.2–1.0 m). Usually the graves were not very deep, and their orientation is not uniform. Most of them are aligned north–south or east–west, like the graves in the cemetery at Tell Abu Hawam (Balensi, Herrera and Artzy 1993
:12). Based on their size, the graves in the Tel Te’omim cemetery were individual graves. Funerary vessels were placed on top of, or next to the deceased, in a manner reminiscent of the cemeteries at Tell Abu Hawam and Tel Zeror (Anati 1959
; Kochavi 1993
:1524). It seems that the cemetery dates to the LB IIB, and was used by the inhabitants of the small settlement that was built on the two hills of Tel Te’omim.