The Early Chalcolithic Period
Early Chalcolithic finds, from a phase that postdates the Wadi Rabah culture, were discovered wherever the excavation extended below the Early Bronze Age and Late Chalcolithic period strata. Most of the finds came from the eastern, southern and western parts of Section M.
Two strata of impressive architectural remains were discovered in the eastern part of the section (Area M7; Fig. 3). The earlier stratum yielded the remains of large buildings built along a north–south axis; one building included a long wall (over 14 m in length). Segments of drainage channels covered with stones were discovered near the wall. An elongated level area (c. 4 × 15 m) built of a single layer of medium-sized, randomly arranged fieldstones (Fig. 4) can be attributed to this stratum. To the west of this level area, a female figurine was recovered from a floor of small stones; the floor probably predates the buildings. In the later stratum, the buildings were constructed along the same alignment, and a new wall was built over the long wall. Tamped floors made of small stones were unearthed to the west of the structures.
The southern (Areas M1, M3), western (Areas M5, M6) and northwestern (Area M9) parts of the section yielded two to four levels of floors made of small stones and installations built of stones or fired bricks. A rectangular burial structure (outer dimensions 2.5 × 3.0 m, inner dimensions c. 1 × 2 m; Fig. 5), aligned east–west, was discovered in Area M4. The structure contains three fieldstone walls built four courses high. The two long walls of the structure were built of three rows of stones, whereas the short, western, wall consisted of a single row. The structure’s open eastern side was closed off with a few large stone slabs. The structure was covered with four massive stone slabs; these were later used as a paved surface in an EB IB building. The grave contained a single adult individual, accompanied by several bowls. Outside the structure, beside the short wall, another individual was interred on his side, his back facing the wall. Remains that seem to belong to an additional burial structure were unearthed in Area M5.
Additional burials recovered in the section were of several adult individuals that were interred beneath the floors of buildings and an infant burial covered with a pottery vessel.
The pottery finds from all the strata from the period comprise an assemblage uniform in appearance. It includes a variety of bowls (Fig. 6:1–4), some of which are small, black-slipped and burnished (Fig. 6:4), as well as hole-mouth jars (Fig. 6:5), basins (Fig. 6:6), flared-neck jars (Fig. 6:7–10), bow-rimmed jars (Fig. 6:10–13) and strap handles (Fig. 6:14, 15). A few of the vessels are decorated with an incised design, some of which is coarse. The site also yielded basalt stone tools, sling stones and flint tools, including sickle blades.
The Late Chalcolithic Period
Remains of structures and finds attributed to the Late Chalcolithic Ghassulian culture were recovered from Areas M1 and M3; most were discovered directly below the surface, and a few were found beneath the remains of the Early Bronze Age buildings. Several wall segments, floors and installations were unearthed; they probably belong to at least two strata. A few copper artifacts discovered in one of the squares included an ax and copper chunks, suggesting the presence of an industry at the site. The pottery finds are characteristic of the Ghassulian culture and include V-shaped bowls (Fig. 7:1–4), rounded bowls (Fig. 7:5–6), holemouth jars (Fig. 7:7–9), jars (Fig. 7:10–12), cornets (Fig. 7:13) and handles that are triangular in section (Fig. 7:14, 15); some of the bowls and cornets are decorated with a painted design on a light background.
Early Bronze Age IB, Early Phase
Architectural remains from this phase were discovered throughout Area M. Nevertheless, the remains of this early phase were significantly less dense than those from the period’s later phase. Fifteen structures of various sizes—mainly rectangular with rounded corners—were discovered, along with ten round silos. Two main types of buildings are characteristic of this phase. The first type consists of small structures (average dimensions 3 × 5 m) with narrow walls (average width c. 0.6 m) and two pillar bases installed along its central axis (Fig. 8). This type of structure does not occur in the period’s later phase. It appears to be characteristic only of the earlier phase of EB IB at the site and may even slightly predate the phase (see Elad and Paz 2018: Fig. 4). The second type consists of a large building (c. 3.5 × 10.0 m) with wide walls (width 0.9–1.0 m) and three or four pillar bases arranged along its central axis. The round silos were built both in open areas between the dwellings and inside courtyards. Silos were apparently in common usage during this phase of the period.
Early Bronze Age IB, Late Phase
Dense architectural remains dating from this phase were uncovered throughout the area and in all the excavation squares in Area M. Data from a magnometric survey conducted in the center of the area prior to the current excavation (Fig. 9) supplements the information obtained from the remains that were unearthed. The excavation in Area M revealed streets, enclosures, several types of dwellings, courtyards, silos and other installations. In many of the squares, two construction phases were detected. Some additions or repairs to existing buildings were identified, whereas in other cases there were significant structural changes. Several streets—both main ones and secondary ones—cross the area, dividing this part of the settlement into a few quarters. Some 30 dwellings (average dimensions 3.5 × 11.0 m) were discerned along the streets or nearby them. They fall into three types: capsule-shaped, rectangular with rounded corners and rectangular with straight corners. The buildings were built along two main axes: north–south and east–west. The entrance was set along one of the long walls; in many cases, a paved area was discovered in front of the entrance. Three or four large, flat stones that served as the bases for pillars that supported the roof were set along the main axis of the buildings. In front of most of the buildings was an open courtyard surrounded by a wall. Some of the courtyards contained silos, activity areas with beddings of small stones and various installations. Fifteen silos of various sizes rea were attributed to this phase. Most of the silos are small (inner diam. c. 1 m), but larger examples (diam. 2.9 m) containing a single base in the center for a pillar to support the roof were also found.
Two areas of the site (Area M2; Areas M4–M6) containing substantial remains from the later phase of the Early Bronze Age IB are described below.
Area M2 (Fig. 10). The trial excavation conducted at the site in 2017 (Elad and Paz 2018: Fig. 6) uncovered a complex of residential units, which included an east–west capsule- shaped structure (31145) that annulled an earlier building aligned north–south (31146). To the south of the complex was an open courtyard containing several activity areas (31245, 31250). A street running predominantly in a northeast–southwest direction (31170) was uncovered along the complex, to its southeast. The magnometric survey detected a large street intersection surrounded by buildings to the west of the trial excavation site.
The current salvage excavation extended the area of the trial excavation on all sides, exposing the streets that crossed it and several buildings. It became clear that the large intersection was the meeting point of three main streets: one (31500) ran in a roughly north–south direction, beginning in the southeast of Area M; the second (31170) ran in an overall northeast–southwest direction; and the third (31450) ran roughly southeast–northwest. The excavation of the entrance to the central residential complex (31321) built along the intersection was completed. It was a double entrance (width 2 m) that provided the only means of access between the street and the complex. Along the east side of Street 31500, two adjacent buildings (31350, 31550) were constructed; Building 31350, which is capsule-shaped, was fully excavated. A paved section of the type found outside building entrances was unearthed just outside the east wall of the structure, indicating that its entrance was probably set in its eastern wall. Three pillar bases were found along the building’s central axis. Building 31550, which is rectangular with rounded corners, was only partially excavated. A short section of Street 31450 was explored (exposed length 12.5 m), but the magnometric survey indicates that it continues for 50 m to the northwest. At the northwest end of the excavated section, the street joins another, narrow street (31510) that carries on northward. A well-preserved dwelling (31400), in which two phases were identified, was exposed on the east corner of this street intersection. In the later phase, the size of the building (3.5 × 8.5 m) was slightly reduced. An entrance with a stone threshold was found in the building’s east wall; in front of it was a large, skillfully paved area (31496). A rectangular room (31600) with a single pillar base in its center was unearthed near the entrance. Since the floor of the room contained numerous fragments of in situ jars (Fig. 11), it was probably used for storage. On the west side of Street 31510 was a courtyard with two silos (31650—inner diam. 1.7 m; 31660—inner diam. 2.5 m). A pillar base was set in the center of Silo 31660. An activity area set on a bedding of small stones (31579) was uncovered near one of the silos.
Areas M4–M6 (Fig. 12) yielded a series of three building complexes from the later phase of the EB IB.
The western complex includes a street (35190; exposed length 19 m, width 3 m), which crosses the excavation area from north to south. The street runs in a straight line, and it is evident that considerable effort was invested in its construction. A slightly sloping retaining wall was built along the east side of the street; it rests on buildings from the early phase of this period. Three sections cut through the street unearthed layers of fine sand alternating with layers of gravel (thickness c. 0.8 m); the gravel layers contained worn potsherds, flint and small streambed pebbles. These layers were probably deposited by water flowing along the course of the street. Part of a drainage channel (35142; Fig. 13) was unearthed in the southern section of the street. Densely built compounds were uncovered on both sides of the street. To the west of the street was a closed compound, which contained a double east–west rectangular dwelling with rounded corners (35140, 35020). In front of the building, extending to its south, was a rectangular courtyard (35150) with a silo (35160) in its center. On the east side of the street was a rectangular structure with rounded corners (35180) and an entrance set along its eastern wall.
The southeast architectural complex is large and well-built; it was partially uncovered in the trial excavation. The complex contains a north–south capsule-shaped structure (33041), which was enlarged to the east by the construction of a rectangular room (33122) and to the west by the construction of a rounded chamber (33123). The entrance to Building 33122 was set in its east wall, and a stone paving was discovered in front of the entrance. Four large pillar bases were discovered along the central axes of Building 33041 and Room 33122. A single pillar base was found in the center of Room 33123. A large silo (33350; inner diam. 2.9 m) with a central pillar base was unearthed east of the complex. An activity area with a bedding of small stones was uncovered just to the north of the silo. Remains of a rectangular structure with rounded corners (33340) that belongs to the period’s earliest stratum were discovered beneath this work surface.
The northeastern complex includes a capsule-shaped building (33300) aligned roughly on an east–west axis. The building’s entrance was set in its southern wall. Three pillar bases were found along its central axis. It contained a well-preserved stone floor, on which eight in situ broken vessels were found (Fig. 14). Two rectangular rooms (33310, 33320) were built in front of the building, adjacent to its southern wall; Room 33320 served as an entrance room. The entrance to Room 33310 was set in its southern wall and led out to an open area to its south (a courtyard?); the room may have been used for storage.
Between the southeast and the northeast complexes lay an open area (33480), probably a large courtyard. A street (33470) paved with small stones led to the courtyard from the west. At its eastern end, the street reaches a row of dressed, medium-sized stones, where a socket was found in situ, probably the remains of a doorway.
Early Bronze Age IB Pottery
The pottery assemblage that characterizes Area M is diverse and includes three groups of vessels: serving vessels (small bowls and bowls), cooking utensils (kraters and holemouths) and storage vessels (jars, pithoi, jugs, teapots and small jars).
Small hemispherical bowls with a straight, tapering rim (Fig. 15:1–3). These bowls are not common at the site, although they were widespread in Israel throughout the Early Bronze Age. Traces of soot are often evident on the edge of the rim, indicating that the bowls were used as lamps.
Small hemispherical bowls with a tapering, S-shaped rim (Fig. 15:4). These bowls are usually made of well-levigated clay and have thin walls. Some of the bowls are red-slipped. They are very common in all the Early Bronze Age phases at the site. These small bowls are distributed throughout the country, and are also common in similar early EB IB assemblages (‘Erani C Horizon), for example at Hartuv (Mazar and de Miroschedji 1996: Fig. 17:11–14).
Carinated bowls with a molded rim with an inner gutter (Fig. 15:5–8). This is the most common type of EB IB bowl at the site. There are dozens of subtypes of these bowls, which differ from each other along several features, among them the thickness of their walls, their firing quality and the quality of their red slip. However, all the subtypes have shared basic characteristics, primarily the molded rim and its inner gutter. These bowls are found mostly in the Sharon coastal plain, but they extend as far as the ‘Akko Valley in the north (Qiryat Ata; Golani 2003: Fig. 4.1:15–19) and the Jezreel Valley in the east (Tel Qashish; Zuckerman 2003: Fig. 17:5, 6). A few bowls of this type have also been found in the Bet She’an Valley, at Tel Bet She’an and at Tel Shalem (Rotem 2012:130, Pl. 19:12, 13). The southern limit of these bowls’ distribution is unclear, but none have been found in the Yarqon basin.
Knobbed deep bowls (Fig. 15:9). These bowls are characterized by a rounded body, a tapering rim and plastic decoration consisting of conical knobs near the rim. This type of bowl is common at sites in the northern coastal plain, including Qiryat Ata (Golani 2003: Fig. 4.2:12, 13).
Deep bowls with a thickened rim (Fig. 15:10, 11). These bowls are characterized by a thick wall and a thickened, inverted rim. They were common in the north of the country during this period, but they are also found in the Jordan Valley (e.g., Bet Yerah; Paz 2006: Fig. 7.19:5; 7.28:1, 3), in the Jezreel Valley (e.g., Tel Qashish; Zuckerman 2003) and in the Yarqon basin (e.g., Rishpon 4; Gophna and Paz 2017: Fig. 16.4:9).
Platter-Bowls (Fig. 15:12–14). Bowls of this type are rare at the site but, as at similar sites from the same period, they represent precursors of platters that appear in the EB II. They are commonly found from the Golan Heights (Paz 2018: Fig. 3.1:6), via the center of the country (e.g., Tel Dalit; Gophna 1996: Fig. 39:13) and as far south as ‘Arad (Amiran 1978: Pl. 8:5).
Holemouth-Kraters (Fig. 15:15–18). These kraters are very common at the site and constitute the vast majority of the kraters discovered there. The kraters have an inverted, thickened rim and a rounded body, and are usually decorated with red slip and only rarely with a plastic design. They are made of light brown or buff-colored clay, which distinguishes them from the holemouths used for cooking (below). Holemouth-kraters were common in the coastal plain during this period, for example in the ‘Akko Valley (Golani 2003: Fig. 4.3) and in the Yarqon basin (Gophna and Paz 2017: Fig. 16.5:3).
Undecorated holemouths with a thickened rim (Fig. 16:1). These holemouths make up the majority of the pottery assemblage from this period at the site. They are made of brown or dark red clay with a gray or black core. They were probably used mainly for cooking.
Decorated holemouths (ribbed and/or red-slipped; Fig. 16:2–11). Decorated holemouths are rare at the site, and ribbed holemouths are even rarer. In contrast, decorated holemouths (ribbed and red-slipped) form the majority of the pottery assemblage at sites in the center of the country (e.g., in the Yarqon-Ayalon basin; Gophna and Paz 2017: Fig. 16.5:15–19; Paz, Rosenberg and Nativ 2005: Fig. 25:4–16).
Jars with a sharp everted rim (Fig. 16:12, 13). Medium-sized jars with a straight, tapering and slightly everted rim are very common at the site. Jars of this type are found at sites of this period throughout the country (Gophna 1996: Fig. 40:12, 14; Gophna and Paz 2017: Fig. 16.6:1–5).
Bow-Rim Pithoi (Fig. 16:14–19) are large vessels—probably the main storage vessels during this period. These pithoi differ from each other in the extent to which their rims are rounded inward and by their form. This type appears to be widespread mainly in the northern coastal plain—the ‘Akko Valley, for example—but is rare in the Yarqon-Ayalon basin (Golani 2003: Fig. 4.10, 4.11). The Jezreel Valley marks the eastern limit of its distribution (Tel Qashish; Zuckerman 2003: Fig. 22:2, 3).
Teapots (Fig. 16:20). These vessels are frequently found in the north of the country. Many intact teapots were discovered in the past in funerary contexts associated with the site. A few intact teapots were found on the floors of the settlement’s dwellings, along with fragments, mostly ribbed necks and spouts. The illustrated spout probably belongs to a type that was recovered intact from the ‘En Esur cemetery (Yannai 2016: Fig. 2.15:1–8; Yannai and Grosinger 2000: Fig. 9.7:2).
Ledge handles (Fig. 16:21, 22). These handles belong to storage vessels, most of which are medium-sized jars. They are decorated with red slip and are usually thumb-indented.