Stratum IV: EB Ib (3,000–2,700 BCE)
In Sq B two walls (W6, W7) form a corner of a building (L116; Fig. 4). A pillar protruding from W6 supported a shelf. An in situ jar (Fig. 5:1) dating to the EB IB (Getzov 2004:43) was found on the shelf. Above the shelf was a pithos with perforated decoration (Fig. 5:2), a type characteristic of EB I that continued into EB II. Only the top of the vessels survived; they were apparently crushed on the shelf, probably when the structure was destroyed.
Stratum III: MB IIb (1,750–1,550 BCE)
A rock-hewn shaft with a stone-lined opening (L113; diam. of opening 1.5 m, depth 1.25 m; Fig. 6) was exposed in the northeastern corner of Sq B. An opening to an inner recess (L108; depth 0.6 m) was hewn midway down the shaft. This feature is characteristic of Intermediate Bronze Age shaft tombs found throughout Israel (Greenhut 1995:3–24), although no sealing stone was found, nor were any artifacts discovered indicating that the shaft led into a tomb. Fragments of jars and of two cooking pots dating to MB IIB were found in the recess. The shaft might have been used for storage during the MB IIB, as its plan is different from those of the seven MB II burial caves excavated in the Western Galilee. Furthermore, its content is unlike the finds in those caves, which are characteristic of tombs: bowls, juglets and jugs (Getzov and Nagar 2002:31–33, 45, Table 14).
A pair of circular, stone-built installations (L118, L119; diam. 1.6 and 2.4 m respectively, depth 0.6–0.8 m; Figs. 4, 7) severed Building 116 in the southwestern quadrant of Sq B. The walls of the installations were built of stone slabs set beside each other; the two installations share one wall. The bedrock served as the floor in Installation 118; the floor in Installation 119 was not reached due to the narrow confines of the location. A similar pair of poorly preserved round installations (L109, L112; Fig. 8) with a common wall (W5) was exposed in Sq A. Installation 112 was paved with small stones. These installations were probably used as granaries.
The finds recovered from these installations included several flint sickle blades dating to MB IIB and an abundance of sherds, the bulk (90%) of which belonged to bowls, jars, pithoi, cooking pots and kraters (Fig. 9). The bowl in Fig. 9:1 is characteristic of the MB IIB, and similar ones were found in Stratum XI at Tel Qashish (Bonfil 2003:278–279). Cooking pots found in Installation 119 (Fig. 9:2–4) included one (Fig. 9:2) which belongs to a predominant type of cooking vessels along the Lebanese coast and in Israel during the MB IIA; it continued into the MB IIB. Similar vessels of the latter period were found only in Stratum IXC at Tel Qashish. A jar decorated with gray and brown stripes (Fig. 9:5) was exposed at the bottom of installation 118. It belongs to a group of decorated jars common in the MB II and the beginning of the Late Bronze. Jars bearing a similar decoration were revealed in Stratum X18 at Tel Aphek (Yadin 2009:115, Fig. 7.4:4, 5). A jug (Fig. 9:6) belonging to a transition type found in assemblages from late MB II and the beginning of the Late Bronze, such as Stratum XXb at Tel Yoqneʽam (Ben-Ami and Livneh 2005:299, Type JAVII), was also found.
Stratum II: MB IIb–LB I (1,550–1,130 BCE)
Only the eastern face of a wall (W1; length 3.5 m), which was built of two rows of stones, survived; its continuation was visible in the southern balk. The wall was abutted by a stone-and-pebble pavement, several sections of which survived (L110, L114, L117; Fig. 10); A stone spindle whorl (see Fig. 12:14) was found on Floor 110. The floor covered the installations, most probability putting them out of use. Its remains were found also in the eastern part of Sq B (L106, L111) under a layer of brown soil (L104; thickness 0.15–0.20 m) containing an abundance of potsherds. It is clear that the wall and floor were situated above Building 116 and Installation 119.
Most of the artifacts at the site belong to this stratum, deriving from the stone and pebble floors. The potsherds found on the floor date mostly to MB IIB; several date to the beginning of LB I. Strata exhibiting a transition period from MB IIB to LB I—with ceramic types that appear for the first time in the latter part of the MB and continue unchanged to LB I—are known in the Jezreel Valley (e.g., Tel Qashish and Tel Yoqneʽam) and to a lesser extent along the northern coast. ….
Bowls. These included open bowls with a folded and everted rim (Fig. 11:1, 2) dating to MB IIB 2); open and deep bowls (Fig. 11:3, 4), some of which have a ring base (e.g., Fig. 11:3), a type found in Strata IX–VIIB at Tel Qashish (Bonfil 2003:278–279); small round bowls with a thickened rim (Fig. 11:5), common in Strata IX–VI at Tel Qashish; an open, small bowl (Fig. 11:6); a small, carinated bowl (Fig. 11:7); a bowl with a plain rim and biconical body carinated midway up the wall (Fig. 11:8), similar to bowls that were widespread in southern Lebanon, Israel and the Plain of ‘Akko, particularly from the end of the MB IIA and the beginning of the MB IIB (Be’eri 2008:231); and a fragment of a WS Cypriot milk-bowl (not drawn).
Kraters. Two types of kraters were found, one (Fig. 11:9) common in MB IIB, the other round, and broad kraters (Fig. 11:10, 11) which first appear in MB IIA and continue into MB IIB.
Cooking Pots are the predominant vessel at the site. Two main types were exposed: those with straight walls, such as a pot decorated with relief (Fig. 11:12), and those with a gutter rim (Fig. 11:13), also found in Stratum III, which were prevalent in the MB IIA and continued into the MB IIB. Both types appear in Stratum IXC at Tel Qashish. A later group, of carinated cooking pots (Fig. 11:14–16), included a vessel (Fig. 11:17) made of coarse fabric, characterized by a spherical body and a round base without handles; they first appeared in the MB IIA and were predominant in MB IIB.
Jars are the second most prevalent vessel in Stratum II. Most have a short neck, sometimes with a ridge at the base of the neck (Fig. 12:1–5) and are characteristic of the end of MB IIB (Bonfil 2003:293). Other jars include a type (Fig. 12:6, 7) appeared at the end of MB IIA at Tel ‘Akko and in Stratum XXb at Tel Qashish (MB IIB or LB I); a type (Fig. 12:8) that was very common in all phases of the MB and continued to the LB I; jars decorated with painted stripes (Fig. 12:9), which were widespread during the MB II and early LB; SJAIII type jars (Fig. 12:10, 11) that are common at Tel Qashish from Stratum XXV until the end of the MB (Stratum XXI) and in lesser numbers in late MB IIB and the beginning of LB at Tel Yoqne‘am (Strata XIXb, XXb; Ben-Ami and Livneh 2005:290).
Pithos (Fig. 12:12). A vessel with a thickened and upright rim was found. A pithos with a similar but
grooved rim was found at Tel Yoqneʽam, Stratum XXIIIa, dated to the MB IIB.
Jug(?). A fragment of a closed Chocolate-on-White vessel was found on Floor 114 (Fig. 12:13). The decoration, characterized by a thick cream-colored slip, high-quality burnish and dark-brown “chocolate” stripes, appears on its upper part. Chronologically, this sherd coincides with most of the finds from the site, dating from the end of MB IIB to the LB I.
Two walls were built of boulders and large stones along a north-south axis. These were probably used as terraces or for some other agricultural purpose. The walls sat on the floor of Stratum II and cut the granaries of Stratum III. This layer is difficult to date, even though the potsherds found on the terraces also date to late MB IIB and the beginning of the LB I. Potsherds, including jars and cooking pots from the Iron Age, were found on the surface, without any associated architectural finds. Also found on the surface, in the northwest of the area, were several flint implements attributed to the Wadi Rabah culture (L100). An MB IIB blade was found right below topsoil (L105). The pottery is described below.
Kraters. Two types were discerned. The first has a black and red (bichrome) decoration (Fig. 13:1). Similar vessels were found in Strata XXVII–XXVIII at Tel Yoqneʽam, in deposits ascribed to the beginning of Iron II at Tel ‘Akko and at sites along the Lebanese coast, such as Sarepta (Anderson 1988:661, Pl. 48). The second type (Fig. 13:2) was quite prevalent at the beginning of Iron IIA, especially in Phoenician coastal sites.
Cooking Pots. These vessels constitute 90% of the stratum’s assemblage. Cooking pots with short flanges (Fig. 13:3–6) are typical of the early Iron II, but appear already at the end of Iron I in Stratum XVII at Tel Yoqneʽam (Zarzecki-Peleg 2005: Figs. I.20, I.21).
Jug (Fig. 13:7) characteristic of Iron II. Similar vessels were uncovered at Tel Qison, Tel Yoqneʽam and Tel Qiri.
The proximity of the site to what is today the active spring at ‘En Shefar‘am is the primary explanation for the presence of settlement remains from EB I until the beginning of Iron II, albeit not continuously. Due to the limited excavation area, it was impossible to evaluate the nature of the site during the Early Bronze Age, a time when a significant rise in the number of sites occurred in the north of the country, including Tel Kabri (Stratum 9) to the north and Qiryat Ata (Stratum II) to the west. The ‘En Shefar‘am site might be a satellite settlement of Qiryat Ata, although it is farther east and may belong to the wave of new settlements established in the eastern Plain of ‘Akko, which included sites such as Horbat Ya‘nin, Giv‘at Yavor and Tamra. There was a hiatus of hundreds of years following EB IB; activity at the site is only evident during the Intermediate Bronze Age, when a shaft tomb was hewn. The quarrying of the tomb was incomplete, and most likely was not used for what it was originally intended. Although a cemetery of this period was found at Tel Bira, 12 km to the northwest of ‘En Shefar‘am, this solitary tomb should not be associated with the tell.
The main settlement at ‘En Shefar‘am existed from the end of MB II to the beginning of LB I. The importance of the site is suggested by the two twin installations, whose principal contents were jars, pithoi and cooking pots. These were probably used as granaries, which may have supplied one of the nearby settlements, such as Tel ‘Akko or Tel Kison. The location of ‘En Shefar‘am, on the eastern fringes of the Plain of ‘Akko and adjoining the Lower Galilee, is important for understanding its economic importance. During both phases of MB II, the economy of the tells and major sites in the Plain of ‘Akko was based mainly on agriculture, in association with the peripheral settlements around the sites. Grain stored at ‘En Shefar‘am served as a basis for interregional and international trade. In late MB IIB, the large mounds that were the economic backbone of the region and engaged in overseas trade, such as Tel Kabri, were abandoned, leaving behind no evidence of a destruction layer, as noted by Be’eri in his study of the Plain of ‘Akko during this period. He documented in this region a dramatic decline from 23 sites in the MB to just 6–7 sites, all unwalled, at the beginning of the LB. These were concentrated in two settlement blocks: along Nahal Qishon and along the ancient seashore (Be’eri 2008:353). These include the neighboring sites, Tell ‘Akko and Tel Kison; Tel Kison is the only site that maintained its urban centrality, albeit in a diminished manner.
The nature of the pottery assemblage in the settlements continued unchanged from the Middle Bronze Age, and was unaffected by the change that occurred in the settlements’ configuration and size. Strata II and III seem to represent this picture. The granaries might have served as an agricultural hinterland for Tel ‘Akko or Tel Kison and possibly for other sites as well. It seems that the site was not large, as few architectural remains were found: the pebble floor that abutted the wall in Stratum II. The recovery of settlements in the region that commenced in LB II was quite limited, and affected mainly the settlements along Nahal Qishon. The solitary fragment of the WS Cypriot milk bowl is not evidence of the continuation or renewal of the site at ‘En Shefar‘am. However, the pottery assemblage from the end of Iron I and early Iron II indicates a renewal of settlement at the site, similar to the situation at Tel ‘Akko, as well as at sites on the Plain of ‘Akko and along the northern coast.