(Figs. 2, 3) is ascribed to Type 1b according to the typology proposed by Epstein (1985
:23–26). This is a rather small structure compared to the others that were excavated. Its walls were built of three large, upright basalt slabs (c. 0.5 × 1.0 × 1.5 m) that formed a rectangular burial cell (0.9 × 1.9, height 0.7 m) oriented along an east–west axis. The dolmen’s covering stone (0.7 × 1.7 × 2.1 m) fell in the past and today lies to its west. The cell contained a thin layer of accumulated clay, in which several worn fragments of flint flakes and small abraded pottery sherds were found. A cupmark (diam. 0.15 m, depth 0.1 m) drilled in a basalt boulder was exposed slightly west of the dolmen’s opening.
(Figs. 4, 5) is ascribed to Type 2c according to Epstein’s typology (1985
:23–26). It consists of an elliptical tumulus (diam. c. 10 m) comprised of stacked fieldstones enclosed within a meticulously built wall of large fieldstones that stands to a height of three courses. A long, stepped corridor led to a rectangular burial cell (1.5 × 1.6 n, height 1.6 m) oriented in a north–south direction. The cell was built of large, upright basalt slabs (c. 1.00–1.35 × 1.00–1.40 m); it had no covering, and no stone suitable to be used for the roof could be found nearby. Inside the cell, which was completely excavated down to its floor, was an accumulated layer of dark clay (thickness c. 0.3 m), which yielded jar fragments from the Intermediate Bronze Age (Fig. 6) and several worn flint items. A stone floor, probably bedrock, was revealed beneath the accumulation.
(Fig. 7) consisted of an exceptionally large tumulus (diam. c. 20 m), and is a type that has not yet been described in the scientific literature (for a general discussion about dolmens, see Hartal 1987
; Fraser 2015
). The tumulus was built on a steep slope of a large bedrock terrace. Circular retaining walls constructed of enormous boulders with a fill of large fieldstones in between were discerned inside it. The total weight of the stones in the tumulus is estimated to be 400 tons. Inside the tumulus was a main burial cell (3a) and at least four smaller burial cells (3b–3e) located beneath it. Only the main burial cell (3a) was excavated, revealing a rectangular chamber (2 × 3 m, height 1.6 m) constructed along a north–south axis. It seems that the cell was entered from the north by way of a corridor covered with long basalt slabs; the corridor is blocked today by stones. The cell is built of very large, upright basalt slabs (1.0 × 1.5 × 2.0 m; Figs. 8, 9). The covering stone on top of the dolmen is huge (1.5 × 3.0–3.5 × 4.0 m) and weighs about 50 tons. The excavation inside the burial cell focused on removing the accumulation only situated in its southwestern quadrant. The upper layer was soft, almost powdery soil (0.1 m), beneath a stone collapse. A fragment of a cooking pot from the Middle Roman period (Fig. 1:10) was found in this layer. Below the upper layer was a layer of heavy clay soil, which yielded numerous pottery sherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age: cooking pots (Fig. 10:2–4) and a handle adorned with a pierced decoration (Fig. 10:5), similar to that found in a previous excavation of a dolmens at Shamir (Zingboym 2009
) and when excavating dolmens in the Golan Heights (Epstein 1985
). Poorly preserved human bones were exposed alongside the pottery sherds. These were mostly small bone fragments, although long bones were also documented. Despite their poor state of preservation, it was possible to identify the remains of at least three individuals. The small finds from this layer included a fragment of a copper pin, several flint tools and flakes, stone pounders and beads (Fig. 11). The excavation was halted before the floor level was reached.
The findings from the excavation in the dolmen field around Kibbutz Shamir are preliminary, requiring additional excavations to substantiate them. However, one can point to several factors that distinguish the excavated dolmens. First, the excavation revealed several types of dolmens concentrated within a small area. Second, Dolmen 3 is the largest dolmen known to date in the dolmen field around Shamir, probably the largest reported in Israel and one of the largest of these structures to be studied in the Levant. The finds date the dolmens to the Intermediate Bronze Age.