Work concentrated in Squares C8, D8, E6, E7, I5, J5, K4, and K5 of Field V, located at the top of the southwestern slope of the tell, south of and adjacent to Field IV (Fig. 1). The aims of this season were to expand the exposure of domestic units adjacent to the city fortifications from the end of the eighth century BCE (Stratum VIB), which were destroyed by a military campaign, possibly Sennacherib’s in 701 BCE, with the hope of recovering supplementary information that will shed light on daily life in that region. Furthermore, it has been hoped to uncover additional data pertaining to city planning, the economy, and relationships between this site and other regions.
Work in all the excavated areas continued to expose major elements of eighth century BCE architecture (Stratum VIB) immediately below topsoil. These included parts of the city outer wall and rooms adjacent to it on the inside in a typical casemate fashion. Squares C8 and D8 yielded a pillared house with a cobbled-floor room, possibly a stable (Fig. 2). The pillars were erected on earlier pillars that served as bases. An adjacent small room with a beaten-earth floor that contained a large amount of charred organic matter might have been used for storing straw and fodder. Another room with a cobbled floor contained large amounts of in situ crushed storage jars, some of which of the lmlk type, and other vessels all covered with heavy destruction debris (Fig. 3). Patches of crushed limestone were found overlaying some of this material possibly indicating roof or ceiling material. All structures were covered with heavy destruction layers caused by a tremendous fire and aided by stored organic matters and food commodities, possibly oil. Evidence of the military action that caused the destruction was found throughout the excavated area in the form of ballista stones and iron arrowheads. The collapse of the superstructure helped preserve much of the evidence.
As in previous seasons and similar to what was recovered in earlier seasons in Fields III and IV, many of the rooms yielded proof that the inhabitants of eighth century BCE Tel Halif were heavily engaged in spinning and weaving. The remains of an industrial-size workshop, which were partially exposed in 2007 in Square E7, were expanded to Square E6 and to the balk between the two sqaures (Fig. 4). Numerous clay loom weights and remains of bone tools, testify to the intensity of the operation (Fig. 5). Several spindle whorls (Fig. 6) suggest that a certain amount of spinning also took place in this workshop, as well as the dyeing of the yarn, which is evident from the presence of large number of grinding and crushing stone implements for preparing the pigments and ceramic vessels (bowls, jugs, jars) for mixing and storing the dye, all of which were probably used in this process. The assemblage also included oil lamps suggesting that weaving was carried out in the dark, either at night or in a room without windows (Fig. 7). Massive architectural elements, including portions of the city wall and a crushed-chalk glacis in Squares J5 and K5, suggest that this area was occupied by public structures and that the city gate is possibly in the vicinity (Fig. 8).
Very little evidence of settlement in Stratum VIA (the “Squatters Phase”) was recovered this season, indicating that this stratum had only a spotty occupation.
Additional cult objects from Iron II and the Persian period were discovered during the current season, emphasizing the fact that cultic activities took place in this area. This supports the suggestion advanced in previous seasons that during these periods there must have been a cult center or house shrines in close proximity to Fields IV and V. The objects included a head of a pillared figurine, horse and rider figurine fragments and two votive oil lamps similar to those found in 2007 (Fig. 9), all from Iron II, as well as two fragments of molded figurines dating to the Persian period.
Typical Hellenistic-period potsherds in several areas suggest that during this period the area of Field V was the subject of pitting, possibly for stone robbing from earlier structures. Similar activities were carried out in later periods, especially in the Byzantine period.
Future plans include continuing the excavation of another weaving workshop adjacent to the one exposed and the study of the city plan in this quarter.