The “Acropolis” Area: A Roman Public Building (Sq D4e1).
A doorjamb detected in situ on surface level appeared to be connected with a massively built structure (Fig. 2). A large wall (W1026) of hewn basalt stones (width c. 1 m) was discovered. On its western side was part of a paved courtyard (L1020) that contained various installations, including a stairway. Four stairs, probably out of ten, are preserved and the stairway may have led to an upper floor or to the roof of the building. The room excavated east of the wall contained a “window wall” composed of basalt piers. Hundreds of painted plaster (fresco) fragments that were found in the courtyard may have fallen from the upper story. The pottery, as well as a coin of Herod Antipas found on the floor of the eastern room (L1021), gives a date of the first century CE (Fig. 3).
The Gate Area of the Upper Mound (Sqs. E3f4-7-g4-5).
Various soundings were made to establish the usage date of the gate complex (Fig. 4). An Iron II structure (Room 2358) that cancelled the gate wall (W219) was excavated in Sq E3f5. Beneath the floor of Room 2358, a stone pavement (L2473), overlain with LBA pottery, was excavated. This pavement was detected in the adjacent square (E3f4) with clear relation to W219. Hence, the LBA floor was directly connected to the gate complex. Right below the stone floor, two subsequent EBA walls were detected in a probe, the uppermost dated to EBIII and the lower probably to EBII (a similar stratigraphy was detected in Area D6 during the 2008 season; Paz, Okita, Tsuimoto et al. 2010:32–36). With the complete lack of MBA pottery in relation to the gate system, a LBA date for the usage of the gate seems plausible in spite of its typological similarity to the gates of the MBA.
A series of wall segments that seem to cover a chronological span between Iron I to the Persian period was found in Sq E3g5. A clay figurine of a female holding a tambourine was found right to the east of the threshold in Room 2358, in clear Iron II context (Fig. 5).
Room 2358 seems to have been part of a large complex that extended southward and was discerned in Sqs E3f6-7; it extended over at least three subsequent usage phases. In the latest, partition walls divided the paved space (in Sq E3f6) into two narrow rooms.
Area D6: An Oil Press Installation.
Excavation in the large building at the eastern side of the mound was concentrated on clarifying a round installation (diam. c. 2 m) that was found right north of the building’s threshold. It turned out that the installation (L590; Fig. 6) was superimposed by the threshold and therefore earlier in date. After removing the large stones that were deliberately thrown into the installation, it appeared to be an oil press, similar in shape to the one excavated in 2008 (L521; see Paz. Okita, Tsukimoto et al. 2010:34), with a basalt bowl set within its flat stone pavement. Inside the installation, c. 20 olive pits were found. It seems that this olive press installation went out of use well before Installation 521, but the possibility that they were used simultaneously for a short period of time during the LBA cannot be excluded.
Area C2-D2: LBA Stratigraphy on the Lower Terrace.
The LBA compound, first excavated in 2009, was further investigated (Fig. 7). To understand the nature of the architectural elements that were formerly detected (HA-ESI 123), Sqs D2a7-8 were excavated to deeper levels. The LBA date for W775 was confirmed by the discovery of an Iron I pit that destroyed its northern continuation. LBA pottery was found on top of the stone pavement (L784) that was connected to the compound.
A wall segment (W791; length 2.85 m, width 0.7 m), aligned east–west, was discovered in the southern part of Sq D2a7. It has a wide entrance (width 1 m) with a paved threshold. Patches of stone pavement (L795) and a circular installation (L1789) that was attached to the wall may reflect phases of usage in this location. The pottery relating to the wall and the floor is assigned to the LBA, including a fragment of a White Slip milk bowl; it thus may tentatively be dated to the thirteenth century BCE.
The main space in Sqs C2i7-j7 was a large hall or an open courtyard (L793), which was divided by W692 and maybe also by W693; within the latter, monoliths and pillars were incorporated. The pottery found on top of the connected packed earth floor (L793, L794) should be dated to the LBA. Wall 791 and its related loci postdate the main space in Sqs C2i7-j7.
Removal of the balk between Sqs C2i7-j7 revealed two large basalt stones that may originally have been related to W693. An observation made by O. Ackerman that the lower terrace of Tel Rekhesh consisted of basalt, while the upper mound was a limestone hill, sheds new light on our view of the standing stones in Area C2. While most monoliths detected on the higher mound were made of basalt and never found in situ, on most of the lower terrace, monoliths were made of limestone and found in situ. A well-preserved oval oil press (L797; 1.4 ´ 1.8 m, depth 0.65 m; Fig. 8) was revealed in Room 793 in the northwestern corner of Sq C2j7; it has a large basalt bowl within its flat stone pavement and it contained several hundreds of olive pits.
The earliest remains from the LBA were detected in the northeastern corner of Sq D2a7. A segment of an east–west oriented massive wall (W799; length 0.95 m, width 0.65 m) was exposed. It was built of large boulders (length up to 0.5 m) and the pottery relating to it should be dated to the early LBA.
It seems that at least three LBA stages can be discerned in the excavated area. It should be remembered that several LBA strata were already identified in a probe that was cut below the Iron Age walls in 2008 (Paz, Okita, Tsukimoto et al. 2010:30) and a settlement continuum from MB IIC/LB I to the late LBA should be considered.
The 2010 season of excavations at Tel Rekhesh helped us to clarify some of the issues that arose during the former seasons. First, a first century CE Roman public building was excavated and its nature and role in the Jewish village from this period will be further investigated in the coming seasons.
Second, the results from this season helped us to establish a Late Bronze date for the usage and perhaps the establishment of the upper mound gate complex.
Third, the extensive LBA remains from the lower terrace may underline our view of a central settlement in the site during this period. The two olive oil press installations excavated this season add more information to the large extant of olive oil production at the site between the Late Bronze and Iron I periods. One should note that six installations were found in the excavated areas, which is merely 2% of the whole site.