Area C1 east
Geological processes in this area caused landslides that resulted in the removal of much of the original hard nari bedrock crust. Thus, the underlying substratum of softer marls (Ghareb Formation) was exposed. Pits of various sizes and architectural remains were discovered.
Pits. Six large, deep and bell-shaped pits and three deep and straight-walled pits, hewn in the soft marl bedrock, were exposed (Fig. 3). These pits, which were a dominant feature in the landscape, mainly concentrated in the north part of the excavation where bedrock was 0.15 m below current surface. In addition, numerous smaller, shallower circular pits were found interspersed between them.
The function of the bell-shaped and straight-walled pits is not entirely clear. All pits had been filled in to their brim, by human action or natural agents, with large quantities of small to large sized nari stones, embedded in a brownish soil that yielded varying quantities of potsherds and flints. Most of the potsherds seemed to be waste and refuse; however, two pits (Loci 412 and 430) contained several complete and restorable pottery vessels. The pottery would indicate when the pits were filled in, rather than reflect the date of the pits’ hewing. Most of the ceramic vessels dated to the early phases of Early Bronze Age IA and included holemouth and necked jars with indented rims. These were mixed with smaller amounts of earlier Late Chalcoltihic pottery types that included churns and cornets. Bell-shaped pits are a well-known feature of Late Chalcolithic settlement landscape, more than of the EB IA; since the present site has settlement remains from the Late Chalcolithic period and EB I, it is presumed that the bell-shaped pits were related to the Late Chalcolithic structural remains, whereas the deep, straight-walled pits possibly dated to the subsequent EB I period. This hypothesis finds partial corroboration in a once corbel-vaulted, circular silo of the EB IA, which was built directly around and on top of a circular, rock-cut shaft that led into a Late Chalcolithic bell-shaped pit (L601; Fig. 4). A large nari boulder, found on top of the shaft’s fill, was an integral part of the stone-built silo’s floor (Fig. 5).
Structural remains. Stone foundation segments of straight-lined and curvilinear structures were exposed in three separate parts of the excavation area. Best-preserved were the foundations of a rectangular building, subdivided into at least two rooms (Squares H–G4/5) and founded directly on natural bedrock, which was partially preserved (Fig. 6). A pit had been cut into the bedrock floor of each room. The pottery associated with the floor dated the use of this building to EB IA.
This is the second rectilinear building, dating to EB IA, unlike the more expected curvilinear building for this period, which is similar and probably contemporary with a structure discovered in a previous excavation at Modi‘in (HA-ESI 119
, Stratum 3). No earlier material was found in this particular area, with the possible exception of the mostly unexcavated bell-shaped pit (L601).
A long segment of a curvilinear wall was exposed in Squares D5–7 (W803; Fig. 7). Two floor levels were associated with this wall, both dating to EB IA. An infant jar burial was found below the upper floor, cutting through the lower floor down to bedrock. Since W803 was only partially preserved, it is not certain whether a second circular silo with a corbelled wall (W805) could have been situated within the space enclosed by W803. If so, this would resemble a curvilinear enclosure wall that encompassed two circular structures, dating to EB IA, which had previously been discovered in Modi‘in (HA-ESI 119
, Stratum 2)
While excavating the lower EB IA floor in Square D6, a deep depression in the natural bedrock, which yielded large quantities of Late Chalcolithic pottery and flint tools, was exposed. This phenomenon of rock-cut pits or natural bedrock depressions with Late Chalcolithic material, sealed by EB IA structural remains and finds, reoccurs at various other locations within the excavation area. Based on these findings, it would seem that the remains of a Late Chalcolithic settlement/storage area in and on bedrock had deliberately been filled in and leveled by the subsequent EB IA occupants of the site. A direct superposition of EB IA structural remains (two strata) on top of Late Chalcolithic remains (two strata) occurs in Square C4. A circular pit (L600; diam. 1.2 m, depth c. 1.5 m) contained well-preserved Late Chalcolithic pottery, as well as an Egyptian (Naqada I) disk-shaped stone (diorite?) mace-head and a few carbonized olive stones. It was found sealed by a stone pavement (L599), associated with a Late Chalcolithic retaining wall (W817), built of large nari boulders and founded on natural bedrock. This wall subdivided a large bedrock depression into two parts, which had been filled with small nari stones mixed with large quantities of Late Chalcolithic pottery and flints. Nari boulders, probably extracted from this Late Chalcolithic wall, were reused in the construction of an EB IA wall (W811), built above it and associated with a floor that yielded EB IA pottery and flints.
The top of W811 was sealed by a brown soil fill (thickness c. 0.15 m), on top of which an EB IA circular stone silo (W805) was built and exposed almost directly below ground level. Remains of another smaller curvilinear structure (W813), founded on natural bedrock, were exposed in Square A6. An in situ portable stone mortar was discovered close to the inside of W813, set in front of a large boulder that could have been a convenient sitting place while pounding food in the mortar (Fig. 8). Pottery from the associated floor level dated the building remains to EB IA.
Area C1 west
The excavated area consisted of two contiguous squares that had previously been excavated (Permit No. A-5551). Two strata that contained sparse remains of stone walls, separated by a layer of densely-packed stone debris, were distinguished. Pottery finds were meager and badly preserved. The remains in the top stratum dated to the EB IA and those in the bottom stratum were from the Late Chalcolithic period.
Although final conclusions must await analyses of the various recovered finds, which consisted of pottery, flint, ground stone, including Late Chalcolithic and EB IA basalt bowl fragments, copper tools, including an EB IA axe and a copper pin, animal bones and shell assemblages, as well as carbonized organic materials and collected soil samples, it can be cautiously suggested that the present site was occupied during different phases of the Late Chalcolithic period and EB IA. A certain lapse of time separated between the Late Chalcolithic and EB IA settlements at the site, unlike the rather smooth passage from the Late Chalcolithic into EB IA that was noted in other excavated areas (HA-ESI 119).
The Late Chalcolithic period in Area C1 east seems to slightly predate the earliest Late Chalcolithic period on Hill B (HA-ESI 119
, Stratum 6). This is concluded on the basis of the high number of cornets in Area C1 east, in comparison to Hill B. The EB IA occupation in Area C1 east seems to be contemporary with the earliest EB IA remains on Hill B (HA-ESI 119
, Stratum 3). Hence, it can be stated that the Late Chalcolithic occupation had begun in Area C1 east and then spread westward to the other hills (HA-ESI 119
), whereas the EB IA occupants had apparently occupied the whole area at the same time.
The presence of large storage facilities in Area C1 east, namely bell-shaped and straight-walled pits, as well as rock-cut cavities, is remarkable. The density and sheer volume of these rock-cut facilities seem to indicate a level of storing organic produce and/or foods well beyond that of a private household. It is thus assumed that the site, as well as the former excavated hills where over a thousand grinding and pounding stationary bedrock facilities were found, was part of a central storage area that served a whole community.