Both excavations, each of a single square, were conducted in the westernmost area that had been excavated on Tel Iztabba. In the northern excavation area, habitation levels of the Intermediate Bronze Age were discovered, and in the other area, c. 50 m to the southwest, partial remains of two tombs from the Intermediate Bronze Age were exposed.
The Northern Excavation.
Two levels of a living surface were discovered. One was identified as a courtyard (L100; Fig. 2), which consisted of a surface of tamped earth, crushed chalk and pottery sherds; the other, c. 0.2 m higher in the northwestern corner of the square, was a floor with a similar composition, but more densely compacted. The courtyard surface was founded on a layer of brown soil and numerous pieces of travertine (L103; thickness c. 1.4 m), devoid of pottery finds. Below this level, limestone rock sloped to the south. Above the habitation level was a layer of accumulated brown earth mixed with chunks of limestone, travertine deposits and several pottery sherds dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age, Hellenistic and Roman periods. The artifacts found in the habitation level included pottery from the Intermediate Bronze Age—among them fragments of casseroles, open bowls, kraters, holemouths and jars—which are consistent with an assemblage typical of settlement sites of the period (Eisenberg 2012
:65). The bowls (Figs. 3:1, 2) have an outer ledge, its edge wavy or decorated with indentations. The ledge on Bowl 1 slants slightly downward, and on Bowl 2 it is horizontal. The bowls, which according to thier material were apparently used for cooking, were made of well levigated clay and were well fired (Fig. 3:3, 4). Bowl 3 has flat rim and thick, undulating walls bearing marks of the potter’s finger. Bowl 4 has a flange rim. The kraters (Fig. 3:5–7) are hand-made, with a globular body to which a holemouth rim was attached. Krater 5 has a flat rim inverted to the horizontal, and Krater 6 has a grooved holemouth rim. Krater 7 has a sharp holemouth rim (pointed??), with a shallow groove along its outer base; the outside surface of the rim and part of the body are decorated with red decoration characteristic of the period (Smithline 2002
:31). Two jar fragments (Fig. 8:3, 9) made of well-levigated clay and carefully and uniformly fired, were also found. Jar 8 has a grooved rim and Jar 9 has a thickened rim.
The Southern Excavation. Remains of two shaft tombs hewn in travertine were discovered, and dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age by the ceramic finds. Part of the burial chamber’s floor and walls survived in the western tomb (T1; Fig. 4), whereas only a small part of the burial chamber’s floor was excavated in the eastern tomb (T2). The floor in T1 has a circular outline. On its southern side, next to the wall, was a small bench several centimeters higher than the floor. The interior of the tomb was dome-like, and its walls were preserved to a height of 1.1 m above the floor. The reconstruction of the ceiling, indicates a maximum height of c. 1.6 m above the floor. Past installation of modern infrastructure cut through the tomb and damaged the eastern wall (L103). The northern section of the square shows the continuation of the wall and the floor (Fig. 5).
Only a small section of the burial chamber of T2—part of the floor and the walls—was excavated. It seems that the outline of the tomb was similar to that of T1. Tombs with a similar burial chamber were excavated in the northern cemetery of Bet She’an, c. 140 m southeast of the excavation (Oren 1973
:156, Fig. 4, T108; 160, Fig. 8, T104; 162, Fig. 10, T60; 163, Fig. 11, T57; 168, Fig. 16, T296). These two tombs seem to belong to the southern cemetery of Tel Izt
abba. The artifacts in them consisted mainly of pottery, but a copper wire was also discovered in T1; it did not survive and crumbled upon exposure. Five pottery vessels that were found on the floor of the burial chamber could be restored: a jug, three amphoriskoi and a jar (Fig. 6:1–5). A jar (Fig. 6:6) was found in the excavated part of T2. All of the vessels are closed and hand-made, a common phenomenon in finds from Intermediate Bronze Age tombs (Eisenberg 2012
:65). Jug 1 was found in the southeastern part of the T1 (B1006). It has a strap handle that extends from the rim to the shoulder, and marks of the potter’s fingers are visible on the inside surface. The neck and rim were apparently made on a tournette
and attached to the body. The join is invisible on the outside, but could be clearly felt on the inside of the vessel. The wall thickness is not uniform. The upper part of the jug was painted unevenly inside and out. The paint was probably applied to reduce evaporation through the walls of the vessel. The three amphoriskoi from T1 (B1002–B1004) were found in the center of the burial chamber and its southern part. Amphoriskos 2 was made of particularly coarse material and is poorly fired. Amphoriskos 3 was made in two parts—the neck and rim were made as one piece, and joined to the body and base. It is asymmetrical and the potter’s hand marks are visible on the inside surface of the vessel. The vessel was made of coarse material and its firing was mediocre. Remains of red slip are visible on the outside surface. Remains of the clay that was displaced when the lug handle of Amphoriskos 4 was pierced, were smeared around the perforations. Marks of the Potter’s hands were visible on the walls of the amphoriskos inside and out. The vessel was made as a single piece, showing no trace of a join between parts. The clay that was used to manufacture the amphoriskos was well-levigated, and the vessel is well-fired. Diagonal combed marks can be discerned on the lower half of the vessel. A jar was found close to the southern wall in each tomb. Remains of reddish brown slip were apparent in several places on the outer surface of Jar 5 (B1000). The slip was also smeared on the inside walls of the jar, where it was better preserved. It seems that the slip had a functional purpose in addition to being decorative, and may have been meant to improve the impermeability of the vessel. The jar is made of well-levigated buff colored clay and is well-fired. Jar 6 (B1001) is asymmetric, made of light brown, well-levigated clay and is well-fired. Both jars have features characteristic of the jar assemblages from northern Israel, e.g. elliptical globular body, and features characteristic of the jar assemblage of southern Israel, e.g. the relatively high neck and everted rim (Smithline 2002
:37). In addition to these, a bone fragment, probably of a femur was found in T1.
The occupation levels that were uncovered in both excavations date to the Intermediate Bronze Age and are part of the Tel Izt
abba site. The significance of the two excavations lies in their location, which determines that the settlement extended up to this point in the west. The distribution of the excavations on the tel to date, allows an estimate of a minimum area of c. 200 dunams for the site. The observed continuity between the northern cemetery of Bet She’an (Oren 1973
) and the area of the two tombs in the current excavation, makes it possible to determine that the northern cemetery of Bet She’an acted as the southern cemetery of Tel Izt
abba in the Intermediate Bronze Age.