The earliest phase consists of a few surfaces and walls of unclear plan (Fig. 2). It was identified in only a few locales, directly below the remains of Phase 3.
This phase included two adjacent and nearly complete buildings (Structures 1 and 2) that appear to have been a portion of a much larger complex, which had probably been composed of several rooms around an open courtyard (Fig. 2). Structure 1 is a rectilinear building, outlined by three walls; its northern wall is conjectured (Fig. 3). The walls were revealed immediately upon dismantlement of the Phase 2 floors and walls that were founded upon them (Fig. 4). Structure 2 was to the south of Structure 1 and comprised a broad room. A beaten-earth floor within Structure 2 had several paving stones placed upon it, one of which may have functioned as a pillar base.
This phase included a large and complex architectural unit that may be interpreted as a compound or insula, composed of several buildings of irregular plan around an open courtyard enclosed within a wall (Fig. 5). The Phase 2 builders partly recognized the earlier Phase 3 remains, reusing some walls, yet for the most part, a new architectural plan was devised. The compound area had four entrances, one from each direction and a small building (Structure 3) was located within the enclosure on its northern side. Some of the entranceways were found purposefully blocked, possibly when the compound went out of use. The main entrance from the north was indirect, leading into the main courtyard by means of a foyer. Structure 3 was of relatively small dimensions, with only 5.5 m of inner floor space.
Phase 1 included architectural additions and modifications to the pre-existing Phase 2 (see Fig. 5). The major modifications are the addition of Structure 4 (Fig. 6),
a broad room with two entrances and an inner floor space of just over 20 sq m. In addition, the entire area was reorganized with the modification and enlargement of Structure 3, the addition of Structure 5 and the cancellation of the courtyard walls. These changes appear to have cancelled the compound altogether, replacing it with at least three buildings situated around an open area.
Excavation immediately to the south of Structure 3 revealed two storage jars adjacent to one another and sunk into the earth. The westernmost jar (Fig. 7) was complete and composed of a large storage vessel with rounded base set into the lower half of another store jar with a flattened base. The easternmost jar was missing its rim and neck. Excavation of this latter jar revealed a large lump of bitumen at its bottom (Fig. 8).
The Ceramic Assemblage
The pottery repertoire associated with all four phases is typical of the EB II period in northern Israel and at least half of the ceramic assemblage is composed of metallic ware and a very low percentage of red-slipped vessels. Initial analysis of the assemblage from all four stratigraphic phases does not show any significant differences between them. The ceramic material also included a large amount of EB IB material, which was not found in situ.
The excavations in Area S have uncovered a dense concentration of building remains associated with EB II. The relatively broad exposure of building units and other walls enables a possible reconstruction of larger architectural units, here identified as walled compounds that appear to have been an integral element within the overall planning of the urbanized settlement at Qiryat Ata during the EB II period.
Although ceramic material of the EB IB period was recovered from nearly all the excavated loci, no stratified remains of this period were revealed in the excavation. Virgin soil was reached in the western portion of the excavated area, overlaid with remains of Phase 3 of the EB II period only (see below). However, virgin soil or bedrock was not attained in the easternmost portion of the excavated area. Even after a depth of nearly two meters in the eastern edge of the excavated area, EB II remains of Phase 4 were the earliest identified in this locale, while a large amount of EB IB ceramics from this region suggests an earlier, EB IB phase below or in proximity to the edge of the EB II settlement. These observations enable a more exact positioning of the site’s southwestern boundary during the EB IB and EB II periods, which can possibly be identified in the eastern portion of Area S.