From September to December 2001 a salvage excavation was conducted at ‘Enot Shuni, located west of the classical site of Shuni (Permit No. A-3496; map ref. NIG 19493–500/71535–45; OIG 14493–500/21535–45) in the wake of unintended damage to ancient tombs by a private company, which was reported to the IAA. The excavation, on behalf of and funded by the IAA, was directed by M. Peilstöcker and D.A. Sklar-Parnes, with the assistance of K. Covello-Paran, S.R. Wolff, A. Golani,
O. Segal, A. Dagot, U. ‘Ad, G. Parnos, A. Gorzalczany and H. Abu-‘Uqsa (area supervision), V. Essman, V. Pirsky and A. Hajian (surveying and drafting), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), T. Sagiv (photography), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), E. Kamaisky (pottery restoration), and H. Tsion-Cinamon (GPS). Further assistance was provided by R. Badhi, Z. Horowitz and S. Golan of the IAA Central District/Haifa Office.
The Shuni quarry is situated c. 3 km northeast of the modern town of Binyamina, at the southern end of the Carmel Mountain. North of the quarry archaeological remains from the Roman and Byzantine Periods were revealed at Ramat Ha-Nadiv and toward the northwest a field of tumuli, dating most probably to the Intermediate Bronze Age, was excavated. In the area immediately west of the archaeological park of Shuni remains of a mosaic floor were discovered and at a distance of some 200 m westward, the remains of a small settlement, dating to the MB II period, were discerned (Fig. 1, Area 1; ESI 116:22*–23*; Gorzalczany A. 2005. Tel Aviv 32/1:32–49).
The primary survey at the previously unknown site, carried out by M. Haiman and E. Yannai of the IAA, recorded a few shaft-tombs that were recently damaged, as well as a number of additional tombs damaged in the past. An immediate excavation of the most damaged tombs was initiated by the IAA and directed by D.A Sklar-Parnes. In addition, the quarry’s environ was surveyed by M. Peilstöcker, adding numerous features to the site’s map. Most of these consisted of circular or square spots of dark soil, which indicated tomb shafts and were clearly visible on the grayish bedrock surface. Since the quarrying activities posed a permanent threat to the tombs, a salvage excavation was undertaken, directed by the author.
The site was divided into three areas for the excavations (Area 2–4; Fig. 1), which ascertained that the entire southern slope of the site (from a max. elevation of 50 m asl to a min. elevation of 25 m asl) was used as a cemetery during the Intermediate Bronze Age and reused during Middle Bronze II. A single tomb was utilized during the Late Bronze Age, another one during the Iron Age and one of the tombs had reused an earlier Chalcolithic burial cave. More than 90 tombs were revealed, as well as a mausoleum dating to the Roman period, which was not excavated, and a limekiln dating to the Byzantine period.
The tombs had either square or circular shafts and were constructed according to the same principle. The shafts were hewn into the relatively soft bedrock, a nari limestone layer that covered a layer of hard dolomite rock. Whenever the shafts reached this hard layer, one, two or three burial chambers were cut. Most of the tombs were in a good state of preservation, although in some cases the roof of the burial chambers had collapsed. Human and animal bones, including horse bones, were discovered in the tombs. Most of the osteological remains were not in articulation. A bone repository, containing large quantities of human bones and a few pottery vessels was found in one of the chambers. When the skeletons were in articulation, the head was placed close to the wall of the tomb. A group of 23 small vessels that contained infant bones was found in Tomb 70, dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age.
Tomb 92 in Area 4 is presented as a typical example of the cemetery (Fig. 2). The tomb consisted of a circular entrance shaft (c. 3 m deep) and a narrow burial chamber (height less than 1.2 m) that was accessed via a wide doorway. A second entry in the southern wall of this chamber led to a second chamber, which seems to have originally belonged to a different tomb, since a blocked shaft was discerned in its northern wall. Seventeen complete pottery vessels together with seven metal artifacts, including five spearheads, were found. Only two vessels were recovered from the second chamber. The vessels included bowls, jars, jugs and juglets, all dating to the early Middle Bronze IIA period. The emergence of Intermediate Bronze Age pottery in the fill indicated that the tomb had been first used in this period, but was apparently cleared away before its reuse in Middle Bronze II.
An early summary of the results shows that the tombs of the Intermediate Bronze Age were multiple, primary burials, containing a varying number of individuals. The anthropological report indicates that at least some of the tombs served as single family mortuaries. The Middle Bronze II burials were relatively poor in comparison with similar tombs at other sites.
The Intermediate Bronze Age finds were distinguished by a high level of standardization––all vessels were strikingly similar. The assemblage was quite limited, consisting mainly of small vessels––teapots, amphoriskoi, small jars and jugs, which resembled the ones found in other burials of the period, albeit the absence of cooking pots. The vessels generally reflected the northern culture, although ‘Syrian’ vessels were rare. Metal artifacts comprised tools and weapons, including axes. The Middle Bronze II assemblages displayed a wide range of vessel types. Noteworthy were decorated vessels, such as the Levantine Painted Ware and other related potteries. Other Middle Bronze II artifacts included metal objects, among them socketed spearheads, some with remains of their wooden handles, toggle pins and rings, as well as scarabs, stone pommels, worked bones, bone inlays and beads.