The Pottery Neolithic Period. A few potsherds and flint artifacts attest to the site’s occupation during this period.
The Early Chalcolithic Period. Fragments of pottery vessels from this period were recovered from many of the excavation areas at the site. Settlement remains belonging to the Early Chalcolithic period were found in four excavation areas. These included the walls of buildings (Areas L1 and O2), habitation levels and stone circles (Area M2) and a jar-burial of a child (Area M5).
The Late Chalcolithic Period. Area O2 yielded two strata from this period. The earlier stratum yielded part of a building and habitation levels that postdate the Wadi Rabah culture, but probably predating the Ghassulian culture. The later stratum yielded a corner of a rectangular building and floors made of ceramic body sherds and crushed chalk, which belong to the Ghassulian culture.
Early Bronze Age IA. Remains of this period were exposed only in Area O2, at the heart of the site. At least four settlement strata were uncovered, yielding about ten densely built round or elliptical structures (wall width 0.4–0.6 m; Fig. 3). Installations, a drainage channel and work surfaces were found in several of the buildings. An installation constructed of tabun material was unearthed in one building. A rectangular building (Fig. 4) was discovered in the later stratum. Its plan and ceramic finds recovered from its floor suggest that it dates from the transition phase between the EB IA and the EB IB.
Early Bronze Age IB. Dozens of buildings ascribed to two main strata were discovered in all the excavation areas at the site (Figs. 5–7). Two phases of construction were discerned in the later stratum in many of the excavation areas. In the two strata belonging to this period, several types of basic architectural units existed alongside each other: capsule-like structures, rectangular structures with rounded corners and rectangular structures with square corners. Many of the buildings were joined together in insula-like structures and quarters, which were separated by streets and alleys; others were located within a walled complex; and several were free-standing buildings. Only the stone-built foundations of the walls were preserved; no traces remain from the upper courses, which were probably made built mud-bricks. Most of the buildings were constructed in a north–south or east–west alignment. The entrances were generally set in one of the longer walls. Large stone bases, on which wooden pillars were probably placed to support the roof, were discovered along the central axis of the buildings. Silos—of which one or two circles of stones were preserved—were found near and sometimes even attached to some of the buildings.
A magnetometry survey conducted in the unexcavated area between Areas M1 and M3 shows that the excavated street segments are part of an intricate network of streets connecting the various quarters and complexes of the settlement (Fig. 8). The survey also revealed that the site was densely built, with hardly any open spaces. The excavation yielded numerous potsherds of locally made pottery vessels, as well as a few fragments of Egyptian pottery, including a bottle and a cylindrical vessel.
Intermediate Bronze Age. Pottery sherds were discovered in several of the excavation areas, but no building remains were uncovered.
Late Roman and Byzantine Periods. Potsherds from these periods were recovered from the surface in many of the areas; most were small and worn. A refuse pit (2.2 × 2.3 m, depth 0.4 m) from the Late Roman period (third–fourth centuries CE) was exposed in Area K3. A well-plastered water channel found in Area P1, which may have served in diverting water from nearby Nahal ‘Iron, probably dates from the Late Roman and Byzantine periods.
The preliminary results from the trial excavation at the site of ‘En Esur indicate that it was first settled in the Pottery Neolithic period. During the Early Chalcolithic period, the site covered a large area, but at this early stage of the excavations it is not yet possible to determine the precise extent of the settlement. During the Late Chalcolithic period, the settlement clustered around the center of the site, near the springs. This area remained the nucleus of the settlement in the Early Bronze Age. In the Early Bronze Age IA, the site covered a relatively limited area, of only a few dozen dunams. Early in the Early Bronze Age IB, the settlement expanded to cover several hundred dunams, and toward the end of the period it reached its maximum size (c. 650 dunams). During this period, the settlement was densely built and exhibited the characteristics of a planned and organized proto-urban settlement. The site was abandoned late in Early Bronze Age IB, like other sites of this period, such as Tel Bet She’an and Tel Megiddo.