The excavation focused on the eastern slope of the tell (Area E; Fig. 2), and included cleaning and trimming of sections in the East Cut of the old excavation and opening new squares to its north and south, where we expected to expose Middle Bronze Age remains directly below ground level; most of the work was done in the cut and the two squares to its north. The excavation adopted the registration system of the Tel Dor project (see Tel Dor Staff Manual).
The East Cut.The northern section of the East Cut (height c. 1.65 m) was trimmed to form a step (width c. 0.5 m, depth c. 0.6 m). The upper part of this section, from topsoil down to the step, did not reveal any traces of an in situ archaeological deposit, possibly because of the location of the section inside a previously excavated trench, where architectural remains were removed in the older excavation. At the level of the step, except in its western corner, three concentrations of medium-sized fieldstones and two concentrations of larger undressed stones could be observed (Fig. 3). These belonged to two short segments of northeast–southwest walls (W1010, W1020) and to a pavement (L1012), which incorporated the top stones of these two earlier walls; the pavement may have been described in the previous excavation report (Stern 1984: Fig. 30). The walls, preserved two–three courses high, seem to run parallel to each other. They clearly extended northward, into the northern balk, and we suspected that their continuation would be unearthed in the newly excavated squares (see below).Southwest of W1020, below the level of the pavement, was a circle of stones (L1041)—an installation or a posthole-like feature.
The southern section of the East Cut (Fig. 4) was cleaned as well, but as the extent of erosion was less severe than in the northern section, we were able to evenly trim the entire section, except for the upper 0.5 m. At the bottom of the section, a strip of in situ remains was uncovered. It comprised two clearly distinct vertical deposits—a brownish gray layer with stones and beach-rock fragments, and below it a layer of lighter gray sandy loam—extending the full length of the section, except in the western corner, where a pit (L209) that was excavated in the 1970s and dated to the Roman period cut through the deposits. The interface between the two layers appears to have no traces of a surface. At the bottom of the lower deposit, which contained more sherds than the upper one, were remains of a whitish surface with several crushed ceramic vessels. The surface (F1031, F1031b; Figs. 2, 5) slopes westward and northward, into the area of the East Cut, and could thus be traced in the undisturbed part of the cut. The fill above this surface yielded mainly large fragments of Middle Bronze Age storage jars, some of which were embedded in the balk and could not be retrieved for restoration, and a few other sherds of Middle Bronze Age vessels (Fig. 6).
In the east part of the southern section, Surface 1031b abuts a burned and almost collapsed mud-brick wall (W1042; Fig. 4) built of alternating black and red bricks founded on hard, packed mud-brick material, which extends down below the level of the adjoining floor. Several fragments of burned bricks were visible in the section east of the wall, where the outlines of additional mud-bricks were documented in relation to a patch of a white, apparently plastered, surface (Fig. 7). Samples of burned and unburned bricks contained sediments typical of the coastal area with abundant fauna, including marine shell fragments, spines of sea urchins and foraminifera—species highly tolerant of both marine and brackish waters.
North of the East Cut (Sqs V–W/11). Two fragmentary walls were unearthed in Sq V/11. Crossing the square diagonally, in a northeast–southwest alignment, was a boulder wall (W1026; width 0.8 m; Fig. 8); its northern part was robbed out. The foundation trench of another wall (W1033) cut across the course of W1026. A disturbance, possibly a pit, was identified adjacent to the western face of W1026. It yielded numerous large fragments of a storage jar, possibly from the Persian period.
In Sq W/11, a wall (W1027; Fig. 9), which crosses the square diagonally, from the southern balk to the eastern balk, and continues the course of W1020 (the East Cut), was unearthed immediately below topsoil. Wall 1020 is built of two rows of large stones with some smaller stones placed in between. Stones found in the western part of the square may belong to an additional wall but were not sufficiently exposed to determine if this is the case. The continuation of W1010, the eastern wall in the East Cut, was not unearthed, and will probably be found in the southeastern corner of W/11 or, more likely, east of this square.
South of the East Cut (Sqs V–W/8; 3 × 5 m). To prevent the collapse of the southern balk of the East Cut and allow us to expand it southward in steps in the future, we did not excavate the area immediately adjacent to it. Instead, two squares were excavated further south, nearer to the slope of the tell in an area bordered by trees. The exposure in these squares remained relatively shallow due to insufficient time during the excavation season. A large concentration of stones with numerous tabun fragments was unearthed in the western part of Sq W/8; it is possible that the excavation there was terminated close to the level of a living surface.
In the East Cut and the squares to its north, we documented a stratigraphic sequence and architectural remains that do not entirely correlate with the published descriptions of the old excavation in this area. Although we cannot yet say much about the relationship between the unearthed features, it appears that Mud-brick Wall 1042 and Floor 1031 in the southern section are earlier than the rest of the features; that Walls 1010 and 1020 in the northern section and Wall 1027 in Sq W/11 are later because their foundations were found at a higher elevation than the base of Wall 1042; and that Pavement 1012 in the northern section is later than Walls 1010 and 1020. At least two occupational stages may be identified in Sq V/11, although the features in this square presently cannot be linked to the sequence in the East Cut.
The finds in the new excavation squares on the eastern slope demonstrate the potential for exposing significant additional remains of the Middle Bronze Age and, if expanded westward, of the transition to the Late Bronze Age period as well. These findings, along with the pending results from a petrographic analysis of the ceramic finds, may lead to new insights into the settlement dynamics at Tel Mevorakh during the Middle Bronze Age.