Four phases (I–IV), dating to the Iron Age, and a fifth one (V), probably comprising the top of the Late Bronze Age destruction level were exposed. The three main phases represent the development of the area from an open public area (phase III) to a residential area (phase I, at least in its southern part): Phase III consists of several floors made of packed earth and plaster that served as an open piazza for the residents of the nearby buildings; in Phase II, the piazza was sealed with retaining walls, and these facilitated the construction of dwellings in Phase I.
Phase V. Collapsed mud-bricks and a layer of ash were uncovered in the northwestern corner of the area, near the casemate wall. It seems that this is the top of the Late Bronze Age destruction level.
Phase IV. An installation comprising two perpendicular walls is ascribed to this phase. The tenth-century BCE casemate wall seals one of these walls. The few sherds found in relation to this installation were dated to the Iron Age. These are not sufficient for dating the remains with precision, but since the casemate wall seals the installation it may be dated to the Iron Age I (Strata XII/XI according to the Hazor stratigraphic scheme).
Phase III. A large piazza, extending to the west of the building in Area M4, is attributed to this phase. The earliest floor, found in a limited area, is made of plaster. Above it is a floor made of packed earth and pebbles, followed by a thick plaster floor (Fig. 2). When first uncovered, in the 1994 season, the uppermost floor was identified as part of a glacis, since it abutted the tenth-century BCE casemate wall. This season’s excavation proved this identification wrong, as the plaster floor also abuts also buildings inside the city; therefore, it should probably be interpreted as an open piazza dating to the earliest phase of the eighth century BCE.
Phase II. Two terrace walls built of large field stones are attributed to this phase. The walls were built during the eighth century BCE, probably in order to allow the building of residential structures on the northern slopes of the tel. A floor extending between the two walls with a limestone basin, a fragment of a basalt bowl and remnants of two tabuns (Fig. 3) suggests that this area served for processing and cooking food.
Phase I. One room, belonging to a residential structure built in the southern part of the area, was uncovered. It was first paved with pebbles (Fig. 4), which were later covered by a packed-earth floor. A number of vessels, including storage jars, a cooking pot and a juglet, were found on this floor (Fig. 5). The floor is dated to the end of the eighth century BCE. A staircase built against the northern wall of the room most probably led to a second story.
Area M4 North
The solid fortification wall, dated to the ninth century BCE, was uncovered during the 2013 season (Ben-Tor and Zuckerman 2014). Under this solid fortification wall was a wide mud-brick wall (width 2.5 to 3.0 m), preserved five courses high (height 0.5–1.0 m), with no stone foundations. The wall is built of rows of mud-bricks with small pebbles placed between them in uneven intervals. The wall is built directly on top of the remains of the Late Bronze Age destruction layer (Fig. 6). A fill (thickness 0.2 m) was placed between the mud-brick wall and the solid fortification wall, perhaps as a constructive fill prior to building the solid wall.
The date of the mud-brick wall and its function will hopefully be clarified once it will be possible to uncover floors that abut it from the south. Since the area to the south of the wall was exposed to a very limited extent (c. 0.5 m), it was decided to end the excavation in area M4 North, with the hope that the ongoing excavation in Area M4 South will contribute to dating the mud-brick wall. The possibility that the mud-brick wall was not a free-standing wall, but rather served as a foundation for the solid wall—the course of which it precisely follows—should be borne in mind.
Area M4 South
Three phases dated to the Iron Age were exposed in this area. The earliest is dated to the ninth century BCE; the later ones date to the eighth century BCE and match the phases previously determined in the eastern areas (M1 and M2).
The earliest, ninth-century BCE, phase comprises several monolithic pillars belonging to the storehouse; most of the eastern part of the building was exposed in previous seasons, but its floor has not been uncovered yet. Its northern wall may have been identified, but this will be clarified only in future seasons.
The two main phases in this area can be attributed to the eighth century BCE. Unlike the public nature of the area during the ninth century BCE, it became a domestic area in the eighth century BCE. The earlier of the two phases was exposed in a very small area, yielding several rooms belonging to a residential building that was partly exposed in previous seasons in areas M1 and M2 (northeastern part of Area M). The pebble floors found in the western part of the area belong to his phase (Fig. 7).
The later of the two phases dating to the eighth century BCE is represented by a residential building comprising five rooms. The mud-brick walls in the southern rooms of the building were built against the monolith pillars of the ninth-century BCE storehouse, whereas in the eastern areas (M1 and M2) the pillars were incorporated into the mud-brick walls.
This phase can be divided into two sub-phases. In the earlier sub-phase, the main, central room in the building had four entrances, opening onto each of the other rooms. A mud-brick wall was built in the center of the building with two openings set into it; both were flanked by monolithic limestone blocks (Fig. 8). The floor of the central room was made of packed earth and carried a large concentration of potsherds. A packed floor was found in the southwestern room. On it lay several artifacts, including two cosmetic bowls, an iron sickle blade and a juglet. A stone roof roller was found on the packed-earth floor of the northwestern room, leaning against a mud-brick wall dividing this room from the southwestern room (Fig. 9). A round installation was unearthed in the northwestern corner of the southwestern room; inside it were dozens of unbaked clay loom weights (Fig. 10), most of which crumbled upon removal from the area, and several restorable clay vessels.
The later sub-phase comprises mainly the raising of floor levels and a few internal changes. The openings in the central mud-brick wall were blocked (Figs. 7, 8). Two courses of mud-bricks were laid on top of the wall, and these carried several stone courses. A similar phenomenon was notedin the mud-brick walls of the southern rooms, where stone courses were laid on top of the mud-brick walls. Though this custom of placing stones above mud-bricks is rare, it was also identified in Area M1, excavated in previous seasons. In the southeastern room was a round installation built of mud-bricks and filled with burnt grains and organic material (Fig. 11).