A small winepress was exposed in the southern part of the cemetery, near the separation fence.It consisted of a rectangular treading floor (1.30 × 1.75 m) and a collecting vat (0.62 × 0.72 m), which were connected via a rock-hewn channel (width 0.1 m). A flint sickle blade and fragments of pottery vessels dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age and the Roman period were discovered in the vicinity of the winepress, but its quarrying can not be dated based on these finds.
This is a shaft tomb that consisted of a single burial chamber. The hewn shaft was rounded and had several steps at its bottom (Fig. 3) that led to the burial chamber, in which three levels were quarried in accordance with the hard limestone geological strata (Fig. 4). The raised levels were used for placing the deceased and funerary offerings.
The offerings in the tomb included pottery vessels, such as red-slipped jugs and jars with painted decoration, as well as Canaanean flint sickle blades. All the pottery vessels were broken, with the exception of an intact teapot and a cup that were placed next to each other. The tomb, hewn in the Intermediate Bronze Age, was used for burials only during this period.
The tomb was used for primary burials only. The bones of the deceased were poorly preserved, although it was possible to discern at least four individuals, aged 2–3, 11–13, 20–30 and greater than 50 years of age. The gender of the adult individuals could not be identified.
The tomb consisted of a hewn entrance shaft (L36) and five interconnected burial chambers (L30, L33, L34, L38, L39; Fig. 5). A large variety of very well-preserved funerary offerings were discovered in the tomb. Along the walls of the burial chambers were piles of human bones together with pottery vessels, evidence that every time a new individual was interred, the funerary gifts were moved to the side of the tomb together with the bones of the previous deceased (Fig. 6). At least 1,000 pottery vessels were discovered in the tomb. The abundance of funerary offerings was especially impressive with the discovery of Chamber 39, which was not filled with alluvium, and where the offerings were exposed and arranged in situ (Fig. 7). Numerous jars stood along one of the walls and a dipper juglet was inside each one (Fig. 8). More than twenty-five individuals were buried in Chamber 39, from infants to adults in excess of 60 years of age; it was, in all likelihood, a family tomb. Both locally produced and imported pottery vessels were found, many whole or intact, and some contained the bones of the animal that was offered up in them. The locally produced pottery vessels included many bowls, jars, jugs, juglets and oil lamps, some decorated with paint, such as an intact goblet and a biconical jug (Fig. 9). The imported pottery vessels included ‘Chocolate-on-White’ bowls and jugs that were brought to the site from Transjordan, as well as Gray Lustrous juglets and a sherd of a Monochrome bowl. Base-ring vessels were not found.
In addition to the pottery vessels, bronze and copper jewelry, including toggle pins, earrings, rings and bracelets, were discovered. Other artifacts included bronze tweezers, beads of various stones and a rectangular glass spacer bead that is dated to the beginning of the glass industry, small stone vessels made of alabaster and calcite (Fig. 10:1–3) and a small vessel in the shape of an alabastron made of blue frit, which is sometimes called ‘Egyptian blue’ (Fig. 10:4), decorated bone inlays used in wooden boxes (Fig. 10:5) and thirty-three steatite scarabs (Fig. 11).
Tomb III was originally hewn in the Intermediate Bronze Age; it was reused in Middle Bronze I (=MB IIA) and continued until the latter part of the Middle Bronze Age/beginning of the Late Bronze Age. At least two of the burial chambers in this tomb were hewn during the last phase of the tomb’s use. Many adults and children were interred in the tomb during all the periods of its use and numerous funerary offerings were placed alongside them.
This shaft tomb consisted of two burial chambers. A few potsherds that dated its use to the Intermediate Bronze Age and Middle Bronze I were discovered. The tomb was plundered, probably in antiquity.
This shaft tomb was first hewn and used in the Intermediate Bronze Age. The tomb consisted of a single burial chamber in its early phase; in a corner of the chamber was a small pile of bone fragments belonging to an adult and several potsherds from the funerary offerings that were preserved from the original interments in this period. The first phase of the tomb’s use seems to have lasted a short time.
The cave was reused for burial in Middle Bronze I and storage jars from this period, each containing a dipper juglet, were found in the corners of the original burial chamber.
Another small burial chamber, whose ceiling was considerably lower than that of the first one, was hewn in this period (Fig. 12). Three men in a supine position were interred next to each other in the new chamber, with two children between them; the skeletons were articulated (Fig. 13). Two of the adults were 20 years of age and the third was more than 40 years of age. From the positions of the deceased and their relation to each other it can be concluded that they were buried at about the same time and the new chamber was probably hewn specifically for their interment.
In addition to the excavated funerary offerings, more offerings ascribed to this tomb were confiscated in the neighboring village of Muqeible.
A cistern (min. depth 4 m), not completely excavated to its bottom, was discovered in the vicinity of Tomb III. Its sides were coated with several layers of plaster (thickness 0.1 m). When the cistern was quarried, it had cut several rock-hewn burial caves; hence, it is clear that the cistern was hewn when the cemetery was no longer in use.
The limited excavations in the ancient cemetery of Jalame show that the tombs were first hewn in the Intermediate Bronze Age and some of them were reused during Middle Bronze I, II and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age. It should be noted that ossuaries were observed in one of the caves that was not excavated; hence, the burial caves were also used in later periods. The wealth of material finds discovered among the funerary offerings in Tomb III shows that during the Middle Bronze Age and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age the residents of Jalame were sufficiently well-off economically to afford valuable objects that came from neighboring countries. According to the anthropological analysis, the burial caves were apparently family tombs and the interred were members of the same family. The study of the finds from the cemetery will be valuable with respect to the research of funerary customs, cultural affiliation, commercial and economic routes during the Intermediate Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age, and the beginning of the Late Bronze Age.
The remains exposed in the current excavation are a minor part of the cemetery, which includes numerous burial caves that extend across the rocky area, north of the village and above the valley.