During June–July 2003 and 2005 the sixth and seventh seasons of excavation were conducted at Tel Rehov (License Nos. G-5/2003, G-25/2005; map ref. NIG 2470/7070; OIG 1970/2070). The excavations, on behalf of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and sponsored by J. Camp, were directed by A. Mazar. Assisting in the 2003 season were N. Yahalom (Area B supervision), N. Panitz-Cohen (Area C supervision), G. Rosenberg (surveying), J. Camp (photography), D. Edelman, D. Benton, L. Wilson, W. Wilson, R. Levitan, E. Steinback, L. Frankel, S. Camp and C. Szenkar. Participating in the 2005 season were D. Edelman and M. Schiffer (Area B supervision), N. Panitz-Cohen (Area C supervision), U. Davidovich, E. Steinback and Y. Rotem (Area D supervision), N. Yahalom (Area J supervision), G. Rosenberg (surveying), T. Efroni (photography), L. Wilson (registration), H. Ashkenazi, D. Benton, J. and B. Grutz, N. Marom, A. Swoft, S. Sheffer, C. Szenkar, J. Camp, S. Camp and O. Cannon. Additional assistance was provided by O. Mazar (pottery restoration), R. Solar and Y. Rudman (drawing and graphics), G. Rosenberg (drafting) and N. Applbaum (computing).
The exposure of buildings from Stratum B-5 (late tenth century BCE) was completed in 2003. It was ascertained that remains of four buildings, probably residential, were excavated, although large sections of them lay beyond the excavated area. The eastern and western buildings were destroyed in a mighty conflagration. Part of another large building was discovered in the southern part of the excavation area. Two construction phases were discerned in the center of the excavation area; during the first phase of Stratum B-5 it was an opened area, while in a later phase a new building was established in this area, of which the foundations of a large rectangular space were preserved.
The excavation in 2005 was limited to the western part of the area, which had been excavated in previous seasons. The goal was to dismantle the building remains of Stratum B-5 and expose the remains from Stratum B-6 (= Stratum VI in the general stratigraphic sequence), both dating to Iron Age IIA. Mud-brick walls of Stratum B-6 were exposed below the building foundations of Stratum B-5, attesting to the continuity of town planning between these two strata. The occupation debris overlying the floors of Stratum B-6 contained ceramic finds that distinguished this level, i.e., burnished, red-slipped potsherds alongside a small number of pottery fragments with a painted decoration in the tradition of Iron Age I.
The excavation in 2003 focused on the northeastern part of Area C and the area was expanded 5 m to the north (Fig. 1). Building F––the large residential building whose excavation had begun in 2001––was completely exposed. The building was erected in Stratum C-1b (=V) and continued to exist, with slight modifications to its plan, in Stratum C-1a (=IV). It included an entrance corridor that led to a large central hall with a single room in its back. A row of four small rooms with benches along their walls was in the western side of the building. An extremely well-preserved milling installation discovered in the small northern room consisted of a raised surface with a plastered parapet, surrounding a large slanting lower grinding stone. Nearby were fragments of a ceramic altar decorated with images of naked goddesses, similar to the complete altar that had been discovered in previous seasons in Stratum C-1b, as well as a rich assemblage of pottery vessels. Sections of other residential buildings from Stratum C-1a were excavated to the north, east and west of Building F and probes were excavated to clarify the nature of Stratum C-2(=VI).
The excavation of Area C in 2005 was concentrated in three secondary areas:
The northeastern part of the area was enlarged by 7 m to the east. Sections of three residential buildings from Stratum C-1a (=IV) were exposed in the eastern part. The buildings were constructed from mud bricks without stone foundations, although stone floors were found in several places. Like other buildings in this stratum, the rooms exposed in the current season had been violently destroyed in a blaze. Some of the rooms contained large numbers of restorable pottery vessels, characteristic of the rich ceramic assemblage of this stratum, whose destruction is ascribed to the Aramean conquest of the ninth century BCE. Soundings conducted below the floors of Stratum C-1a clarified that the houses were probably erected in the earlier Stratum C-1b and continued to be used, with slight changes, in the next stratum. The residential quarter exposed in this section is well-planned: walls are parallel and straight; houses are densely built, touching upon each other, with double walls between them.
The excavation in the middle of the northeastern corner of Area C deepened to Stratum C-1b (=V), aiming to expose the remains of Stratum C-2 (=VI), the earliest of Iron Age IIA strata at Tel Rehov (tenth century BCE). The exposed parts of several buildings had shown that the city was well-planned and densely built-up in this stratum as well. The construction consisted of mud bricks without stone foundations. The orientation of the walls was similar to that of the next stratum, but the layout of the buildings was different. This city was not violently destroyed; hence the finds were meager and consisted mainly of red-slipped and burnished potsherds, appearing aside fragments of painted vessels. A tabun, preserved to the height of its rim and lined with slipped and burnished potsherds, was discovered in one of the courtyards. Adjacent to it was a clay jar engraved with two identical three-letter words written in Proto-Canaanite script.
In the southeastern corner of Area C, the continuation of Building H from Stratum C-1b (=V) were excavated, after dismantling the remains of Building L from Stratum C-1a. The former building consisted of several large spaces covered with a burnt layer and mud-brick collapse (height c. 1 m). A beehive was discovered in the eastern part of the building. The hive comprised a row of horizontal cylindrical-shaped containers made of coarse unfired clay; one side of the cylinders was blocked with a wall that had a perforation in its center, whereas the other side was left open. Eight such containers (diam. 0.4 m, length 0.8–0.9 m) were uncovered to date. The identification of the cylinders as beehives was based on anthropological comparisons from the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean basin, as well as on a scientific analysis, conducted by D. Namdar of the Kimmel Center of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who could identify molecules of beeswax in the clay walls of the cylinders.
The building is dated to the tenth century BCE, based on 14C samples that were analyzed in the laboratories of Groningen University (by J. van der Plicht and H. Bruins) and recently published (Mazar A., Bruins H., Panitz-Cohen N. and van der Plicht J. 2005. Ladder of Time at Tel Rehov: Stratigraphy, Archaeological Context, Pottery and Radiocarbon Dates. In T. Levy and T. Higham, eds. The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science. London. Pp. 193–255). These beehives are the only ones known so far in Middle Eastern archaeology.
The enlargement of the stratigraphic section on the western slope of the lower tell to a width of 10 m had begun in 2000. In the 2005 season, the excavation continued in the five squares of the widened section and further remains from all the strata that had previously been discovered: Strata D-11 (Late Bronze Age) to D-1 (Iron Age 2A; Fig. 2), were exposed.
The earliest remain in the section was a layer of organic material that contained unidentified potsherds (a parallel trench that was excavated in earier seasons contained potsherds from the end of the Middle Bronze Age). The layer was covered with a thick deposit of travertine that probably accumulated within a body of water over a considerable period of time. An occupation layer from the Late Bronze Age, which was devoid of any building remains, overlaid this deposit. The earliest building remains in the enlarged part of the section were from the twelfth century BCE (Strata D-7 and D-6).
Two finely plastered square installations, built of mud bricks and used in some industrial capacity, were discovered in Stratum D-6. Stratum D-5 yielded only scant finds and its designation as an independent stratum should perhaps be abolished. In Stratum D-4 (eleventh century BCE), a street crossed the area from north to south; a building east of the street contained a large room and three small rooms to its east. In Strata D-3, several circular flat pits were uncovered, similar to those exposed in this stratum during previous seasons. The pits disappeared toward the center of the area and no such pits or other remains were recovered from this stratum in the northern part of the area. Fragmentary building remains from Strata D-2 and D-1 (composed of several sub-phases), dating to Iron Age IIA, were discovered in the upper part of the area. Although the finds from Area D were meager , the excavation of this area confirmed the sequence of an urban occupation throughout Iron Age I and IIA.
This new excavation area was opened in 2005 in the southeastern corner of the upper tell, to clarify the stratigraphy in this part of the mound (Fig. 3). Five squares were excavated, two in the upper part of the tell and three along the southern slope. The goal was to discover the continuation of the Iron Age II city wall, which was revealed in Area B and to detect possible earlier fortifications on the slope of the tell. It turned out that no Iron Age fortifications appeared in this part of the tell; Iron Age houses reached the edge of the mound and their outer parts had been swept away down the slope.
Nine stratigraphic phases were discerned in the excavation:
The upper phase, J-1, comprised the remains of plaster floors, installations and occupation debris from the Early Islamic period. The second phase, J-2, included remains of two poorly preserved walls; the date of this phase remains unclear. A burial of a single individual was dug into the remains of the square room from Stratum J-3. A skull and parts of a skeleton were preserved and a pottery jug was found near the skull. The burial probably belonged to the period following the destruction of the Stratum J-3 city. Strata J-3 and J-4 date to Iron Age IIB (eighth century BCE). The earlier of these two strata yielded fragmentary floors and walls. In the later Stratum J-3, part of a building that included a small square room, a section of a courtyard with a large tabun and further segments of walls and floors, was exposed. No evidence of a violent destruction was found.
Three to four construction phases (J-5–J-8) could be ascribed to Iron Age IIA; the three earliest ones were evidenced in a probe of half a square in size. Sections of walls and floors could be attributed to each of the phases. Stratum J-5 waqs exposed in a larger area and included parts of two rooms, destroyed by a vast conflagration that paralleled the general destruction of the general Stratum IV city.
A wall discovered at the bottom of a sounding was ascribed to Iron Age I.
The sixth and seventh seasons of excavation at Tel Rehov enhanced our knowledge about the development of the city from the Late Bronze Age until Iron Age IIA. It has been concluded that the city of 10 hectares existed as a built-up and well-planned urban center throughout the period from the twelfth to the ninth centuries BCE. Innumerable artifacts, including figurines, seals and cult vessels, enrich our understanding of the Iron Age culture in the region. The beehives from the tenth century BCE are a singular discovery as no such feature has been discovered in the Near East to date. The chronology of the period has been corroborated and reinforced by numerous 14C dates.