The first historical evidence of a settlement in Lod is found in a list from the fifteenth century BCE, which reviews the Canaanite cities that were conquered by Pharaoh Thutmose III. This reference attests to the importance of Lod in the region, although at the time it was probably still under the protection of the city of Gezer (J.B. Prichard. 1969. ANET, pp. 234–235, 243). Lod appears in the descendants’ list of the tribe of Benjamin (Chronicles I, 8: 12) and is mentioned in numerous sources from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. During the reign of the emperor Septimius Severus, Lod became a polis and was named Diosopolis; in the Early Islamic period the previous name was restored to the city.
The tell is today covered with modern construction, save its northern end, which has eroded away. Remains dating to the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods, the Bronze and Iron Ages, the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods, the Middle Ages and the Ottoman period were found in excavations at the tell and in its vicinity. Remains ascribed to three periods, the Pottery Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods and the Early Bronze Age, were uncovered in excavations on Abba Hillel Silver Street (HA-ESI 112:65*–66*).
Four phases, all dating to the Early Bronze Age, were identified in part of a building that overlaid a mud-brick wall and was exposed at the northern end of the tell (Bulletin of the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Israel, 1957, Vol. 5).
Finds dating to Middle Bronze II, Iron Age I, and the Byzantine, Early Islamic, Mamluk and Ottoman periods were revealed in the northern industrial zone (HA-ESI 116; HA-ESI 117); and remains of a settlement from the Roman, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods were uncovered
c. 350 m north of the tell (HA-ESI 120).
The current excavation has begun with removal of the top layer with a backhoe, whose rear bucket had no teeth, until ancient remains began to appear (depth 2 m). A single square was opened and finds from two strata that dated to the Early Bronze Age were exposed (Strata 1, 2; Fig. 1).
Stratum 1. A floor of small and medium fieldstones was discovered over a large area in the square (L103; Fig. 2). Two round bases, probably column bases, were incorporated in the pavement; they were built of small fieldstones bonded with mortar and coated with gray plaster (Fig. 3). Floor 103 abutted the foundations of a wall (W102) in the southern side of the square, which was built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones, set on a base of brown soil fill and oriented southeast-northwest (see Fig. 2). Probes conducted in the southern corner of the square revealed a wall of brown mud bricks, preserved ten courses high, which apparently was the superstructure of W102 (Fig. 4). Two white tamped-earthen floors (L105, L106; see Fig. 1) were exposed beneath Floor 103 in a probe (L111) excavated in the northern part of the square. They were separated by a fill layer of light brown soil (thickness 0.1 m). The floors probably adjoined the northern side of the mud-brick wall that was identified in the northeastern balk of the square (W112; Fig. 5). The wall, built of brown mud bricks and preserved eleven courses high, was presumably oriented east–west.
The pottery recovered from this stratum included holemouth jars (Fig. 6:1, 3, 4), a bowl lamp (Fig. 6:6), a carinated bowl (Fig. 6:7) and jars (Fig. 6:8–10), dating to Early Bronze Age II; flint artifacts were discovered as well (below).
Stratum 2. A wall (W110) built of medium-sized fieldstones was discovered in a probe (depth 3 m below surface). It was oriented northeast-southwest and its context is unclear because only a small segment was revealed. The bottom floor of Stratum 1 (L106) was set above the wall and negated it. The ceramic finds discovered alongside the wall included holemouth jars (Fig. 6:2, 5) that dated to Early Bronze Age I; flint artifacts were also found (below).
Flint Tools
Hamoudi Khalaily
The flint assemblage from the excavation comprised twenty-five elements, mostly tools. Most of the elements are fresh, without patina or chalk incrustation. The ratio of tools to debitage seems to indicate that the gathering process was selective because the amount of industrial debitage components, such as flint chips and chunks, is small. The flint artifacts were produced from two kinds of raw material, both of good quality. Most of the artifacts are made of gray and light brown flint of the Mishash Formation, which is characterized by chalk veins and originates in small pebbles found in the Nahal Ayyalon stream channel. Other artifacts are made of brownish gray Eocene flint that originates in flint nodules from the nari strata of the northern Shephelah. The nodules are covered with a thick chalk incrustation and consist of fine quality flint without veins. This raw material was utilized in preparing sickle blades and fan-scrapers whose production used Canaanean technology.
Three shapeless cores in the debitage bear small scars of flakes, characteristic of an ad hoc industry, and two cores, which have one striking platform (Fig. 7:1), were used in the final stages for producing flakes. The absence of flakes and Canaanean industry products seems to indicate that the blades and the Canaanean sickle blades were brought to the site as finished products.
The predominant tools in Stratum 1 are the Canaanean sickle blades, which are representative of the Early Bronze Age. The group comprises five Canaanean sickle blades that were knapped of very fine quality dark gray Eocene flint (Fig. 8:1–4). All the artifacts were made on a middle fragment of a Canaanean blade and they have an irregular retouch on one edge, while the other edge is not shaped. An oily gloss sheen is clearly evident along the cutting edge of the retouched side. A massive fan scraper (Fig. 8:5), dating to the Early Bronze Age and fashioned on tabular flint covered with a thick chalk incrustation, was also discovered. Its working edge is located on the broad side and is fashioned on a continuous semi-abrupt retouch. The pronounced bulb of percussion on it was removed by delicate knapping. Shallow chiseling on the chalk incrustation reinforces the dating of the scraper to the Early Bronze Age assemblage.
Stratum 1 also yielded three typical ad hoc tools that are usually common to flint assemblages, including an awl, a retouched flake and a burin.
The appearance and high frequency of the Canaanean sickle blades in the in the flint assemblage of Stratum 1 aid in dating the stratum. They are narrow and were produced using Canaanean technology that is characteristic of the flint industry in Early Bronze Age I–III.
Two sickle blades, a burin and three drills, which are atypical of the Early Bronze Age, were exposed in Stratum 2. The sickle blades are relatively broad (Fig. 7:2); two of them have an abrupt back and are truncated straight. Such tools are widespread in the Late Pottery Neolithic period. The drills (Fig. 7:3, 4) are made on flakes and one of them is massive, whereas the burin is shaped on a fragment of a broad blade and is a dihedral-type burin.
Other excavations carried out around the tell yielded an ancient stratum replete with Neolithic finds. It is reasonable to assume that the oldest flint artifacts from the current excavation derived from the Neolithic settlement at the site, which preceded the Early Bronze Age settlement whose remains were excavated.
Settlement remains dating to Early Bronze Age I–III were exposed, as well as artifacts ascribed to the Neolithic period that point to a settlement at the site before the Bronze Age, although none of its architectural remains have yet been discovered. These finds complement the picture of the ancient settlement at Lod, which has been known from other excavations carried out on and around the tell. This excavation did not reach sterile soil because of its limited area and excavation restrictions. Nevertheless, the flint artifacts exposed in Stratum 2 demonstrate that the very ancient site, first inhabited in the Late Pottery Neolithic period, had continued into the Early Bronze Age.