An area was excavated (c. 75 sq m; Fig. 1) and two strata were identified. Most of the finds dated to the Hellenistic period (Stratum 1). Two probes excavated below this stratum revealed a layer dating to the Persian period, on account of the pottery finds that included lamps (Stratum 2).
The finds from Zori’s survey and the few flint tools discovered in the excavation indicate that a settlement had probably existed here in the Neolithic period, although the excavation did not reach the depth of these layers.
Stratum 2 – The Persian Period
A section of a wall (W109) was exposed. It was built of four foundation courses of fieldstones that were superposed by five courses of fired mud bricks. An opening in the mud-brick wall was exposed, as well as a tamped plaster floor that was ascribed to the building (L111; Fig. 2). The ceramic artifacts from this stratum dated to the Persian period.
Stratum 1 – The Hellenistic Period
An east–west aligned stylobate was exposed (W305); its base was constructed from several courses of fieldstones and columns were placed above it (Fig. 3). The bottom drums, four of which were made of indigenous stone, were found in situ.
Several habitation levels of superposed plaster floors that dated to this stratum were exposed on both sides of the stylobate; it is unclear what they were used for.
Three floor levels of tamped plaster were uncovered north of the stylobate wall; remains of ovens were found on two of them. Numerous pottery vessels, including store jars (Fig. 4) and jugs were found in situ, on top of the latest floor (L311). Two tamped plaster floor levels were exposed on the southern side of W305. The eastern side of the stylobate abutted the southwestern corner of a building that survived by two walls (W106, W302) and three habitation levels of tamped plaster floors (thickness c. 15 cm; Fig. 3). The floors were separated by an accumulation, c. 0.25 m thick. An Olynthus millstone was found in situ, on top of the uppermost floor, and near it was a stone-built installation (L103).
Numerous ceramic artifacts were recovered from the stratum, consisting mostly of complete store jars lying above the floor. Additional finds included coins, fragments of glass vessels, the head of a clay figurine and pieces of plaster that apparently covered the columns.
The architectural remains exposed in the excavation are indicative of a public building or a villa. The excavated section of the building may be the wall of an anteroom, on whose base plastered columns stood. It seems that around the building were other structures, one of which was exposed in the excavation.
The ceramic finds from the excavation are interesting; most of them are locally produced pots. A large quantity of imported vessels was found at nearby Tell Iztabba and at Tel Bet She’an. The difference in the ceramic assemblages probably attests to different populations that lived at the sites and used vessels of different origins.
The finds from the limited excavation are essential in understanding Scythopolis and its surrounding settlements. Was ‘En Eshtori one of the settlements that bordered the Hellenistic city and was it inhabited by a population that used locally produced pottery vessels? Or perhaps another explanation should be sought for this phenomenon.