Excavations in Area B8 revealed the remains of a domestic structure next to the city wall. The floor of the room closest to the wall was overlain with a large assemblage of restorable vessels, including storage jars. One of the jars had two handles, each bearing the lmlk stamped seal impression (Fig. 2). Unfortunately, on both handles the part of the impression bearing the name of the city is blurred and cannot be read. Although many lmlk-type jars had been exposed in previous years, this was the first time that such stamped handles were discovered in situ. The discovery of the handles in a sealed locus on a living floor of a house helps date the destruction of the Stratum VIB city to 701 BCE.
Work in Area C7 further exposed the remains of the pillared house, first revealed in Area C8 in 2008, adding a third toppled pillar to the previous upright-standing two (Fig. 3). The cobbled floor of this structure, lying between Areas C8 and B8, was further exposed; however, its nature, whether it was the floor of a stable or a dead-end alley, is not clear yet (see Fig. 3). Soil samples were collected to help solve this question.
Attempts to extend the exposure of the textile workshop, uncovered in 2007 and 2008 in Areas E6 and E7, into Area D7, revealed the remains of a food preparation area, with a tabun and restorable pottery on the floor of the room. Samples were taken from many of the vessels, including jars and some bowls discovered in Area D7, as well as from those in Area B8, for residue analysis to be performed by the Weizmann Institute. Results will help determine what was stored in these vessels.
Area D7 yielded two very solid walls (W7003, W7004; Fig. 4) that were built directly on top of the eighth century BCE destruction debris and were dated to the Roman period. The nature of the structure to which these walls belong is not clear, but they are the remains of the only Roman-period structure so far discovered on the tell proper.
The search for the city gate continued in the southern part of Field V, where remains of an impressive fortification system were uncovered in Areas L4, M3, M4 and N2, including massive remains of the city wall, the crushed-chalk glacis and its footing (probably an earlier wall from the Early Bronze Age). In all, over 70 m of the city wall were exposed (see Fig. 1). Remains of a dwelling that by the nature of its finds must have been occupied by well-to-do Halifites were discovered in Area N2, which is presently the last one to be opened at the southern end of Field V. One example of the luxury objects recovered from this structure is a beautifully executed cosmetic palette (Fig. 5).
It appears that all of the structures exposed this season are part of Stratum VIB that is dated to the end of the eighth century BCE. No evidence of settlement in the ‘Squatters Phase’ of Stratum VIA was uncovered this season. This absence, together with the spotty evidence for this stratum in the two previous seasons, suggest that the occupation of the site at the beginning of the seventh century BCE was very ephemeral.
Additional votive oil lamps from Iron II and figurines from the Persian period (Fig. 6) were discovered during this season, emphasizing the fact that cultic activities took place very close to this area. It reinforces the suggestion advanced in previous seasons that during these periods, a house shrine and a cult center must have been in close proximity to Fields IV and V.