This area consisted of one excavation square, opened after several large stones were noted immediately below the dark brown alluvial topsoil. Despite the severe damage caused to occupational remains of the EB period, a wall and several pits, dug into the sterile light brown marl, were uncovered (Fig. 2). The pits were found full of stones, pottery and flints of EB I in a dark brown earth matrix. The northern pit had cut a wall that may possibly be associated with the Stratum III Chalcolithic occupation. The pits were apparently of a later date in EB I, although it is unclear if they should be associated with Strata I or II.
This area consisted of a one half square between Areas A and C. As this area was not affected by development, it was hoped to attain an undisturbed stratigraphic sequence from the alluvial topsoil down to the archaeological levels. The thick topsoil cover overlaid an accumulation of debris, associated with EB I, although it is unclear whether these remains belonged to Stratum I or II. A beaten-earth surface with numerous small stones was uncovered at a depth of 1.14 m below the modern surface. The potsherds upon this surface associated it with the Chalcolithic period (Stratum III). Excavation in this area did not reach the basal sterile marl upon which the settlement was founded.
Area C (in excess of 100 sq m) is located in proximity and to the northeast of Area B. Prior to excavation, much of the dark brown topsoil cover was removed by mechanical means, exposing the top of a light brown-gray matrix with stones of walls and numerous potsherds of EB I. Three main occupational strata were identified
Stratum III is dated to the Chalcolithic period and was exposed in five deep probes throughout the area (Fig. 3). Two occupational phases were revealed.
Phase B: The earliest Chalcolithic remains were founded upon sterile alluvial marl that was overlaid with a thick fill of earth and small stones. A very limited exposure of the earliest phase was lacking in architecture, yet consisted of several beaten-earth surfaces with numerous ceramic remains (Fig. 4).
Phase A: The later phase of the Chalcolithic period included limited architectural remains and several associated surfaces (Fig. 5).
Stratum II is dated to EB IB. No connection was identified between the Stratum III occupation and that of Stratum II. The main feature of this stratum was the remains of a large building with rounded outer corners (Fig. 6). Adjacent to it, half of a circular structure was revealed (Fig. 7). Two occupational phases were identified.
Phase B: A structure of a roughly square room (outer measurements 5.25 x 6.00 m; inner space 18 sq m), with at least two rounded outer corners, was uncovered. An entranceway was set in the northern wall of the building and a step led from it to the floor. Across from it and along the central east-west axis of the room were two large flat stones, embedded in the beaten-earth floor, probably pillar bases to support the roof.
To the north of the building were the remains of a rounded storage structure. The entrance into this structure was not identified and may have been located in its northern portion, which was not excavated.
A wall (W18) with an entranceway through its middle connected the building to the circular structure. To the west of W18 was a beaten-earth surface (L188), upon which a nearly complete ceramic krater was revealed (Fig. 8).
Phase A: A slightly later building phase of Stratum II is characterized by the continuation of the same construction plan, with the addition of a few walls and surfaces. Within the building, the Phase B floor appears to have continued in use. At the end of this phase, the building and all its associated structures were abandoned and all the entrances were sealed. The main entranceway into the building from the north was filled in and a stone threshold with a hewn socket was removed and positioned on its side, blocking the entrance (Fig. 9).
The end of Stratum II marks a complete break in settlement. During the Stratum I occupation, the architectural elements of Stratum III were clearly apparent, yet the Stratum I occupation negated all previous remains by the deposition of a thick stone fill within the circular structure and the area in-between. Adjoining this fill was a retaining wall (W11; see Fig. 7), yet no other architectural features of this stratum were identified.
Post-Stratum I Burials
The remains of three primary burials, probably of recent Bedouins, were revealed in this area. Two of these, found within the area of the building, were extremely fragmented. The third was discovered to the north of the building and contained a female, 20–30 years of age, aligned east–west and lying on her right side, with the head in the west and facing south (Fig. 10). No burial offerings were associated with this interment. Adjacent to this burial was a dark rectangular area of earth, which appears to indicate another intrusive burial that was not excavated.
This area comprised a single square that was c. 10 m west of Area C. As in Area A, the square was opened after modern earthmoving had removed part of topsoil and exposed a few large stones. The remains of a wall and an associated surface, composed of numerous packed small stones, were revealed (Fig. 11); both were founded directly upon sterile alluvium. The ceramic material upon and within this surface was associated with Stratum III of the Chalcolithic period.
Areas E, F
These areas, located c. 90 m south of Areas A–D, consisted of two half squares that were opened where possible ancient building remains were discerned on surface during the archaeological inspection. A surface composed of small stones that surrounded a large and flat stone, which was set upon light brown sterile marl, was discovered in Area E (Fig. 12). Remains of an east–west orientated field wall, built of one row of medium-sized stones and set upon sterile basal marl, were uncovered in Area F, located 20 m southwest of Area E. The very limited amount of diagnostic ceramic material recovered from both areas does not enable a clear chronological frame of the exposed features.
The exposure of a concentration of bones and ceramic material by mechanical equipment brought forth an excavation of this area (F122), located c. 60 m east of Area D. The finds appear to have been associated with a cave whose roof was removed by the bulldozer. The upper portion of the fill in the cave yielded part of a store jar and a small juglet, both dating to the Persian period. The bones and the potsherds point to a severely damaged burial within the cave, yet the finds were retrieved in complete disarray. No additional remains of this period were found.
Further excavation revealed the outlines of an irregularly-shaped and artificially hewn cave whose entrance was in the north. The stepped entranceway was demarcated by two parallel rows of large to medium-sized stones, leading into the cave via a shallow descending step (Fig. 13), which in turn led further down to three deep and rounded hewn chambers (1–3), divided by hewn chalkstone partitions (Fig. 14). These three chambers were completely filled with debris down to their bedrock floors. The remains of at least one primary burial, associated with the Chalcolithic period, were discovered in one of the chambers. The burial was found articulated in a flexed position, lying on its right side on a north–south axis with the head in the north and facing west. Anthropological investigation determined the burial to be that of a female, 20–30 years of age. The burial was found a half meter above the bedrock floor and may suggest that the internment reused a pre-existing burial cave that had been cleaned out.
The northern bedrock face of the chambers was found to include numerous small niches (diam. 10–15 cm, depth 5–10 cm; Figs. 14, 15). These niches may have been formed as a result of natural processes or possibly by rodents. Conversely, the niches may have been hewn intentionally, yet their meaning and purpose remain unknown.