Areas P and Q (Figs. 2–4)
Early Bronze Age IB1, Early Phase (Stratum P8). Remains of what was apparently the foundation of a curved wall (W114; preserved length 5 m) were discovered in the northwest of Area P. The wall was built of two rows of fieldstones and was partly preserved to a height of one course. Based on the ceramic finds, this wall should be ascribed to ʽErani Stratum C.
Early Bronze Age IB1, Middle Phase (Strata P7 and Q5). Remains of two mud brick structures (P and Q) were uncovered, consisting of several rooms and an open area that was probably a courtyard or paved street. Two secondary phases were discerned, mainly in Building P; the building was expanded in the late phase and some of its walls were canceled. Both buildings were destroyed by fire. Many pottery sherds were found in the buildings, including jars, holemouths, bowls and tiny vessels, and flint tools, particularly Canaanean sickle blades, as well as grinding tools, animal bones and shells.
Building P (Stratum P7; see Fig. 4), extending across the northwestern part of Area P, comprised seven rooms (1–7) and a courtyard (8). Three of the walls (W118, W119, W206; exposed portion c. 2 × 3 m) delimiting Room 1 were revealed; the northern part of the room was not excavated. Room 2 was located in an open area (c. 4.5 × 5.0 m) where a paved surface of pebbles and a few roughly hewn stones were found, all of them burnt (L1078; 2 × 3 m; Fig. 5); W119 abutted the surface from the south. Other discoveries in this open area, which was probably an inner courtyard of the building, included a circular installation made of small and medium-sized stones and a large in situ mortar. Two of the walls (W102, W103) of Room 3 were exposed; the northern part of the room was not excavated. There were two secondary phases; in the early phase (c. 3 × 4 m), the room’s walls were constructed of broad mud bricks while in the late phase (c. 4 × 5 m), they were built of narrow bricks. Several fragments of EB IB1 pottery vessels were uncovered in the early phase of the room. In the late phase of the room, EB IB1 pottery sherds were exposed in situ on burnt soil, and included four jars, a holemouth, five juglets and two bowls (Fig. 6), as well as a concentration of mother-of-pearl (Chambardia) that originate in the Nile River. Two walls (W102, W120) and collapsed bricks from W120 were exposed in Room 4. Three walls (W103, W107, W115) belonging to Room 5 (4 × 4 m) were exposed. A layer of burnt bricks and an underlying layer of burnt earth were revealed in Room 5. In the layer of burnt earth were two patches of white sediment and grain and legume seeds that were probably the focal point of the conflagration associated with the burnt layer. A column base was probably placed in the center of the room in a later phase. Room 6 (4.0 × 4.6 m) was partly excavated, revealing a collapsed wall (W115). Two walls (W111, W113) delimited Room 7 (c. 5 × 7 m) and fragments of pottery vessels dating to EB IB1 were found in the room. Two enclosure walls (W107, W110) were discovered in Courtyard 8; the northern part of the courtyard was not exposed. Wall 110 probably connected W111 with W115. All of the structure’s walls were built on a layer of burnt bricks, similarly to the layer exposed in Room 5.
Building Q (Stratum Q5; Fig. 7) extended across the southeastern part of Square Q, southeast of Building P and included three rooms (1–3) and an open space (4). A wall (W202; exposed length 12 m) separated Room 1 and Room 2, and it is possible that an opening in W202 that connected the two rooms. A burnt layer was found in Room 1 and fragments of pottery vessels, mainly included jars, holemouths and bowls dating to EB IB1. A mortar or socket was unearthed next to a wall in Room 1. A large number of pottery sherds dating to EB IB1 was found in Room 2. Only a small part of Room 3 (c. 3 × 4 m) was excavated, revealing one wall (W207). Space 4 was located at the northwestern end of the building, next to Room 2 of Building P; fragments of EB IB1 pottery vessels were found there, including jars, bowls and holemouths. Several burnt lenses attributed to the building’s destruction phase were found in the upper part of Space 4. All parts of the building were disturbed by graves dug during the Iron Age (below).
Early Bronze Age IB1, Late Phase (Stratum P6). Fragmentary remains of structures built of reddish colored bricks containing white limestone particles were discovered. A long wall (W106; length c. 10 m) was exposed in the northwest of Area P, and two or three benches on either side of the wall leaned against it (Fig. 8). There were apparently two rooms on both sides of the wall. Wall 106 sustained damage when tombs were dug during the Iron Age. In the southeastern part of the area was a short section of a wall (W100), and a section of another wall (W117) was discerned in the balk of the area’s northwesternmost square. Ash levels belonging to the stratum’s destruction phase abutted W100 and W117.
Early Bronze Age IB1 (Stratum Q4). The city’s Early Bronze Age wall, which encircled the settlement on the south, was discovered in most of Area Q and the eastern part of Area P (Fig. 9). The wall had a mud brick foundation (Stratum Q4b; W200; exposed length c. 50 m, width c. 5 m, preserved height c. 1.5 m; see Figs. 4, 7), and above it was a top wall also constructed of mud bricks (Stratum Q4a; W116, W204; exposed length c. 20 m, preserved height c. 1.5 m); the inside face of the top wall was not exposed. Two phases were discerned; the wall clearly covered the middle stratum of EB IB1. The fills that abutted the wall yielded fragments of EB IB1 (ʽErani Stratum C) pottery vessels. It is possible that the levels abutting the wall foundation also adjoined buildings from the late phase of EB IB1. At this point, the only conclusion that can be drawn is that the city wall is contemporaneous with the late phase of EB IB1 or postdates that phase.
Early Bronze Age IB2 (Stratum P4). Fragments of Egyptian pottery vessels ascribed to EB IB2 were discovered in Areas P and Q; during this a phase, there was a distinct Egyptian presence at the site. In Area P, two large concentrations of sherds of locally produced pottery vessels dating to EB I2B were discovered together with Egyptian sherds and fragments of pottery vessels that are imitations of Egyptian vessels, including bowls, jars and bottles. One concentration (L1085; see Fig. 4) was uncovered in the northwestern part of Area P (Sq E111), in a pit filled with gray soil that severed the layers from EB IB1. The second concentration was exposed in layers of gray soil in the western part of Area P (primarily in Sq E105, a part of the area not included in the plan).
Iron Age IA–IB (Strata P3, Q3). Two parts of an extensive Iron Age cemetery were revealed. Forty-four interments were discovered in its southeastern part in Area Q (Fig. 10), while only two individuals were discovered buried in the northwestern part, in Area P. Presumably, there are dozens of additional burials at various depths in the excavation area that were not exposed. The digging of the tombs cut through the Early Bronze Age buildings and the city wall. Most of the tombs in Area Q were pit graves, some lined with bricks. Four or five burial phases were revealed, one above the other, the deceased on the bottom sometimes interred at a depth of c. 3.5 m below the Iron Age surface level. The deceased were representative of the general population and consisted of fetuses, infants, children, young and old, of both sexes. Most of the deceased were placed in a supine position, and only two were laid on their side. Funerary offerings consisting mainly of pottery, including bowls, jugs, juglets, flasks and bottles, placed alongside the dead. Approximately 80 jars, arranged in pairs, were discovered around the deceased. Some of the jars had a bowl placed on top, and a dipper juglet was found in others. The pottery assemblage exposed in the cemetery resembles assemblages found in the coastal region that date to the transition from the Iron I to Iron II. Jewelry—beads, scarabs and eyes of Horus—was found in some instances, particularly in the tombs of infants or fetuses, and metal bracelets and rings and other items, in the women’s tombs. Two tombs, of men, contained flint sickle blades characteristic of the Iron Age.
Several fragments of pottery vessels with no clear stratigraphic context were also found in Areas P and Q, and dated to the Chalcolithic (cornets bases) period, Early Bronze Age II–III (krater and platter rims) and Iron Age IIB, and the Persian, Hellenistic, Roman–Byzantine, Ottoman periods and the modern era (mainly bowls, jars and jugs). The provenance of these ceramic finds was evidently the top of the tell.
Byzantine Period (Stratum U2). Several squares were excavated, in two groups. A section of a stone wall (length c. 5 m, width c. 0.5 m; Fig. 11) was exposed in the eastern group. A stone foundation of a rectangular building (7 × 12 m) was exposed in the western group, oriented southeast–northwest; the floors of the structure were not preserved. The architectural remains were in a poor state of preservation, perhaps due to the agricultural activity conducted there. Several pottery sherds dating mainly to the Byzantine and some to the Ottoman periods were found in both groups. Most of the ceramic artifacts from the excavation of the building and the wall date to the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh centuries CE), thereby dating the remains. The ceramic finds in the building included mainly fragments of store jars, suggesting that the building was used as a warehouse.
The EB IB settlement extended as far as the southwestern end of Tel ʽErani, beyond the bottom terrace. Apparently, the EB IB city wall exposed in Areas P and Q was built in two construction phases. The wall dates to one of the last secondary phases of EB IB1 (ʽErani Stratum C), as Kempinski assumed (1992
:423). Remains of the EB IB1 wall were exposed in previous excavations in Area N (Ciałowicz et al. 2015
), and if these are indeed sections of the same wall then it encompassed an area in excess of c. 100 dunams. Buildings (Strata P7 and Q5) revealing several construction phases that were destroyed by fire are also attributed to EB IB1.
Pottery sherds and flint implements dating to EB IB2 were discovered in Areas P and Q. The ceramic finds included locally produced vessels together with Egyptian vessels and imitations of Egyptian vessels. The largest concentrations of ceramic finds from this period were exposed in two pits situated outside the city wall, like the sherd concentrations from this period discovered in the trial trenches at the northwestern end of the tell (V. Lifshits, pers. comm.).
An Iron Age cemetery was revealed for the first time in the excavation. Although two single graves from the beginning of Iron Age I were previously exposed in Area DII, on the tell (Nahshoni and Israeli 2002), the cemetery that was found in the current excavation
dated to a later period—the end of Iron Age 1–beginning of Iron Age 2.