During December 2009–January 2010, a salvage excavation was conducted in Sulam (Permit No. A-5788; map ref. 23175/72372), in the wake of exposing ancient remains during the construction of a house. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by K. Covello-Paran, with the assistance of Y. Laban (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), Y. Alexandre (pottery reading), H. Tahan-Rosen (drawing) and Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass). Many thanks are extended to the family of Abed Abu Siam for their generous hospitality during the excavation.
Sulam is located in the Yizra‘el valley, at the foot of Giv‘at Ha-More, next to Nahal Shunem. A modern cemetery is located on a tell of 25 dunams in the center of the village. The archaeological site is identified with ancient Shunem, mentioned in both Biblical and extra-Biblical sources. The tell has been extensively surveyed in the past (Map of ‘En Dor , Site 37) and numerous small-scale excavations have been conducted at the site on behalf of the IAA.
The current excavation is located at the northern slopes of the tell, 25 m north of a previous excavation (HA-ESI 122), where contemporary settlement remains with the present excavation were exposed (Fig. 1).
One square was excavated to a maximum depth of 3 m, exposing three archaeological strata, dating to the Byzantine, Roman and Iron I periods.
Sparse architectural elements were attributed to this stratum, including two segments of stone-built walls and two pits. The ceramic finds dated this stratum to the Byzantine period.
Architectural finds from this stratum were limited to a probe in the southern part of the square and included a wall fragment and a living surface. The potsherds dated the stratum to the Middle Roman Period (third century CE).
A circular stone-built installation (L314) was exposed c. 2.5 m below the modern surface in the north part of the excavation (Fig. 2). The plaster lining of the interior face of the wall suggests this was a silo and the ceramic finds dated it to early Iron Age I.
The exposure of settlement remains on the northern slopes of the site, north of the MB II fortification line, indicates that this area was settled during the Byzantine, Roman and Iron ages. The Iron I installation is most likely associated with a contemporary building, exposed in the previous excavation, 25 m to the south (see Fig. 1).
The present excavations have contributed to our understanding of the northernmost limits of Tel Shunem during the various periods.