Previous surveys documented remains attributed to the Early Bronze Age I, Intermediate Bronze Age and Middle Bronze Age II (Zori 1977:51, Site 74). A. Drori conducted a survey over the course of several years; many of the artifacts from his survey are on display in the museum at Kibbutz Giv‘at ‘Oz. The site was first excavated in 1999, at which time settlement remains dating to MB I and IBA were discovered (Covello-Paran 2008).
In the current excavation, ten squares were opened on level ground on the southern fringes of the site, along the planned route of the separation fence. Architectural remains from five settlement strata (V–I), dating to MB I–III and IBA, were exposed. The excavation reached virgin soil on the ancient riverbank at a depth of c. 3 m below the surface.
Strata V and IV (IBA). The remains from these layers were meager and were revealed in a limited probe. Accumulations of pottery sherds and stone levels (Fig. 2), characteristic of a settlement’s outskirts, were exposed, as well as stone levels that served as the foundations of floors and buildings that did not survive. The remains from these strata were founded directly on the natural ground and reflect the extent of the site in this period. The artifacts comprise pottery, including vessels imported from Syria, flint tools and animal bones.
Stratum III (MB I, II). The finds from this layer include the remains of a pottery workshop, scant building remains, jars containing infant burials and a burial of a sheep/goat. The remains of the pottery workshop included three pottery kilns, work surfaces for preparing the vessels and wasters. One of the kilns (L542; Figs. 3, 4), which survived in a good state of preservation, is of a type known as a ‘vertical updraft kiln’. Infants were buried in jars interred beneath the floors in the rooms. A sheep/goat was also found buried in this level. The animal’s skeleton was found interred articulated, and its position indicates that the burial occurred soon after the time of death (Fig. 5).
Stratum II (MB II). The finds from this layer include building remains and a burial. Part of a four-room dwelling complex was unearthed. Its walls were built of small- and medium-sized fieldstones, and its floors were partly paved with stone slabs and partially prepared from tamped earth. A storage jar, probably meant for storage, was found embedded in the floor in the corner of one of the rooms (Fig. 6). Seven jar burials containing the skeletal remains of infants were documented below the building’s floors. These burials penetrated the remains of the previous stratum (Stratum III; Fig. 7). Numerous artifacts, including pottery vessels, bronze fragments and a loom weight, were found in the jars and in the pits in which the jars were placed. A Tell el-Yehudiyeh juglet was among the funerary offerings in one of the graves. Additional architectural remains ascribed to this stratum were found in the eastern part of the excavation area, but in a poorer state of preservation. An intact bronze dagger (Fig. 8:1) is apparently indicative of a tomb that did not survive.
The finds recovered from the floor levels in the rooms of this stratum include pottery vessels typical of MB II, basalt grinding and crushing vessels, shells and animal bones, and flint tools, the most significant of which are geometric sickle blades. Seven clay wheels (Fig. 9), probably parts of model carts or chariots, were also collected; parallels are known from this period in Israel and Syria. Other finds include hundreds of pottery sherds that were intentionally retouched into a variety of geometric shapes (particularly circles). We believe that their large numbers indicate they were used to line the walls of the buildings. Several pieces of metallic slag were found, implying the presence of a metal industry at or near the site. The excavation results suggest that the settlement in this stratum was abandoned; however, no evidence of fire or destruction was detected.
Stratum I (MB III). The finds from this stratum included a single rectangular tomb built of medium and large-sized stones (1.4 × 2.0 m). Three individuals—a man, a woman and a child—were found inside it (Fig. 10). The individuals’ positions indicate that they were interred together, in a single funerary ceremony, and may have been members of the same family. Five bronze bracelets (Fig. 11) were found on the woman’s arm, and numerous pottery vessels, especially bowls and juglets, were placed next to the deceased as funerary offerings. These included Cypriot imports (Fig. 12) and a jar made of especially fine clay, probably an imitation of contemporary metallic ware. Other jewelry associated with the woman included a silver ring or earring (Fig. 13:1), seven bronze beads (Fig. 13:2), five bronze bracelets (Fig. 13:3) and crystal, carnelian and amethyst beads (Fig. 13:4). An intact bronze dagger was found next to the man’s head (Fig. 8:2). A Hyksos-type cylinder seal decorated in an Egyptian style was also found in the tomb (Fig. 15).
Architectural remains, habitation levels, tombs and installations, mostly dating to MB II, were exposed in the excavation. Meager remains of settlement strata from the IBA were found, as well as one later layer that included a tomb dating to MB III, indicating that a settlement existed in this period.
The remains of Strata V and IV, dating to the IBA, show that the fringes of the site were situated alongside an ancient stream that flowed there. Hence the excavation contributes toward understanding the settlement’s location in the geographical region and also to our understanding of the geomorphology of the valley in these periods.
The architectural remains and burial in Stratum II indicate that the settlement extended across an extensive area during this phase. At the same time, however, it seems that the settlement’s residential areas had contracted and a fairly active pottery producing industry was built in their place. Thus we can reasonably assume that a neighborhood where local potters dwelled was situated there. On the basis of the proximity of the site to the major tells in the valley, especially Tel Megiddo, we can assume close ties existed between it and the urban center at Tel Megiddo in the MB II.
The funerary offerings in the Stratum I tomb dating it to MB III (c. 1650–1550 BCE). It is likely that this tomb was built outside the settlement’s boundaries, evidence that the area of the site declined in this period as compared to earlier periods. Yet the relative opulence of the funerary offerings reflects the high status of the deceased, and if they were residents of the site, it provides evidence of mutual trade with settlements abroad.
The excavation of the Nahal Rimmonim site revealed a partial picture of a rural settlement on the fringes of the Jezreel Valley. It seems that at least in MB II the inhabitants of the site also made their living by manufacturing pottery. The conclusions arising from the excavation contribute to our knowledge of the rural settlement model in the Intermediate and Middle Bronze Ages in the Jezreel Valley.