Iron Age (Strata VI–III). Most of the remains were uncovered in Strata IV and III, which dated to the end of the period. Stratum V yielded a few wall sections and was not completely excavated and Stratum VI consisted of only pits that contained potsherds dating to Iron Age I. Fragmented walls from the Iron Age, mostly from Stratum III and a few from Stratum IV, were exposed in Area E, below and between the remains from the Roman period. It seems that these walls belonged to a large building, which included a courtyard (20 × 35 m) enclosed within thick walls (width 1.2 m). Apparently, only the northern part of the building, in which several construction phases were noted, was excavated. Remains of a rectangular compound (15–20 × 30 m) were exposed in Area D. It was delimited in the north, east and west by a series of parallel walls (Stratum III). The excavation of the compound to the south was not completed and it is possible that the structure continued south toward Area A. Some of the compound’s walls were very well preserved up to surface and occasionally, walls from the Roman period were built on top of them (below, Stratum II; Fig. 3). Long rooms were exposed along the outer walls of the compound. A room with thick walls (a tower?) that was divided into rectangular cells was excavated in the middle of Area D. This room connected the northern and southern parts of the area. The ceramic finds in the rooms of the western compound included many jars, which may point to the usage of the rooms for storage.
The finds in the Iron Age strata, especially IV and III, consisted of large quantities of potsherds (Fig. 4), including eight LMLK seal impressions on jar handles (Figs. 5, 6). These seal impressions are ascribed to the organizational, administrative and military efforts of Hezekiah, king of Judah, in his preparations to revolt against the Assyrian Kingdom at the end of the eighth century BCE. Scholars usually date these seal impressions to the phase after the destruction of Samaria, the capital of Israel, by Assyria (722–721 BCE) and prior to Sennacherib’s campaign to Judah (701 BCE); Lachish was destroyed in that campaign and in the destruction layer (III), a very large quantity of this seal impression was discovered.
The seal impressions are the two winged type and the inscriptions on two of them, “belonging to the king of Hebron” and “belonging to the king of Z[iph]” were clearly deciphered. LMLK seal impressions are very common to sites in Judah, but are extremely rare in the territory of the kingdom of Israel in the north. Statistically speaking, more LMLK seal impressions were discovered at the ‘En Tut site than at any other site in the north. This fact, combined with finding LMLK type jars in sealed and clear archaeological contexts, further underlines the historical and scientific significance of a site.
A Hebrew seal on a light brown colored oval gemstone (1.0 × 1.5 m; Fig. 7) was also found at the site. A through-hole that was drilled the length of the seal indicates that it hanged from the owner’s neck. The seal is divided into three registers. Four pomegranates are incised in the upper register and an inscription in ancient Hebrew script, characteristic of the late eighth and the seventh centuries BCE, is engraved in the others two registers. The inscription mentions the owner of the seal: "Lmkhah [ben] Amihai" (of Makhah [son of] Amihai). The names Makhah and Amihai are new additions to the corpus of Hebrew names known from the Bible, documents and seals; however, they contain the elements “ah” and “am”, which are very common to the names of the period. The importance of the seal lies in its contribution to the corpus of Biblical names and its discovery in a legitimate scientific excavation, rather than being a looted find in the antiquities market. It seems that the seal belonged to a high official in the royal administration and its discovery reinforces the assumption that the site was a royal administrative center in the First Temple period, possibly a fortified one.
Early Roman period (Stratum II). The site provided no evidence of habitation between the Iron Age and the Roman period. Most of the buildings from the Roman period were founded on the remains of walls and floors of the Iron Age, which probably still stood out in the area when the settlement was established (Fig. 8). The construction method in the Roman period differed from that of the Iron Age and the builders in the later period adapted, as much as possible, their architectural plans to the earlier remains that protruded above the surface, apparently in an attempt to reduce the amount of work and save on costs. The Roman-period builders dug down to the level of bedrock in several places to erect the walls on a solid foundation and in doing so damaged and destroyed the earlier walls. The settlement core was situated in the middle and western part of the excavated area (Fig. 9). As the settlement developed, other buildings, founded on bedrock, were constructed toward the north. The excavations in Area A indicated that the Roman-period stratum also extended to the south.
The general plan of the stratum is very dense and includes rooms and courtyards without alleys or streets. The rooms in the northern part of the area were more spacious than those elsewhere in the excavation, perhaps because this area had no earlier building remains and construction was possible without any constraints. Low doors (max. height 0.7 m) were installed in several of the rooms and it is very likely that these were used as cellars where grain and farm equipment were stored (Fig. 10). Among the buildings was a closed, rectangular structure with massive walls that probably served as a tower, possibly as an observation and sentry post. It resembled a structure that was exposed at Ramat Ha-Nadiv, although the latter was located in a corner of the settlement unlike the one at ‘En Tut, which is situated in the center of the settlement. A series of large rectangular rooms that delimited an enclosed central courtyard was exposed in Area C. The location of the rooms at the fringes of the settlement and the low doors indicate that they were probably used for storing agricultural produce. Poorly constructed and meager walls were discerned in the rooms. These were mostly higher than the walls of the rooms and apparently, served as additions or repairs to the buildings. A large ritual bath (miqwe) was built in the eastern part of the courtyard; its lower part was bedrock hewn, whereas the upper part was stone built. The well-preserved miqwe was coated with gray plaster. Seven rock-hewn steps led to the immersion pool (Fig. 11), whose size indicates it was a public bath. The ground floor of the buildings was well-preserved and included doors and threshold stones. An upper story had apparently existed in several places but did not survive. A loculus tomb that probably belonged to this stratum was discovered on the western side of the settlement but not excavated.
The finds in the stratum included coins, potsherds, stone objects, glass vessels and metal artifacts that dated the layer from the end of Herod’s reign until the middle of the first century CE, several years before the outbreak of the Great Revolt against the Romans (c. 10 BCE until 50 CE). The numismatic finds included c. 20 coins from the time of Alexander Jannaeus, Archelaus and Herod. The ceramic finds included Herodian oil lamps that dated the stratum from the end of the first century BCE to the middle of the first century CE (Fig. 12). The stone artifacts included various weights, bowls, chalk vessels and a large number of Olyanthus-type basalt millstones. The recovered glass vessels dated from the first century BCE to the middle of the first century CE. The metal artifacts included bronze spatulae, an iron spearhead, as well as three well-preserved iron wrenches (Fig. 13). These finds, together with the few vessels discovered in situ, indicate that the settlement was abandoned in an orderly manner, probably due to trouble and stress.
The ceramic finds included many jars that suggest the settlement of the period must have subsisted on farming and storing agricultural produce. As no winepresses or olive presses were discovered it is assumed that the residents were engaged in growing and processing grain. Jewish attributes were discovered in the settlement, including a ritual bath and stone vessels. The establishment of the Roman-period settlement was probably related to the prosperity of Caesarea and it may have served as the latter’s agricultural hinterland. The settlement showed no evidence of destruction. The dates of the finds negate any possibility of connecting the abandonment of the settlement with the Great Revolt; however, it is possible that the erosion of agricultural soil caused the residents to desert the site.
Mamluk period (Stratum I). Eleven Muslim cist graves, dug into the earlier strata, were discovered in the excavation area, although not exposed (Fig. 14). A wide variety of glazed potsherds that dated to the Mamluk period (thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE) was discovered in the western part of Area A. Based on the ceramic finds the tombs should apparently be dated to the Mamluk period as well. Similar tombs that dated to the Mamluk period (ESI 16:63) were discovered on a hill north of the site. The location of the tombs on the western part of this hill and the concentration of potsherds close to the center of the hill, where walls were preserved on the surface, points probably to the existence of a farm or a small settlement during the Mamluk period.