The architectural remains dating to six periods were discovered in the current excavation (c. 40 squares; c. 1 dunam): LB I, Iron I, Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad and Abbasid. In several areas, particularly in the south, the remains were damaged by tree roots and modern activity.
Late Bronze Age. The remains ascribed to the LB I (fifteenth century BCE; max. depth 4.5 m) were uncovered in three strata. Stratum X comprised a fill right over the natural ground, thin deposits of sand mixed with LB I ceramics and a meager amount of EB IB and MB IIB sherds; bedrock was not reached. Stratum IX yielded a number of walls were whose plan is unclear and several tamped-earth floors with complete pottery vessels, including a bi-chrome krater characteristic of the early LB I.
A large structure (in excess of 15 × 18 m; Figs. 2, 3), probably used as a public building and comprising several rooms, was constructed in the first phase in the main LB stratum. Two building phases (VIIIa, VIIIb) were discerned in the structure. Clusters of pottery vessels, some of which are Cypriot imports, including jars, goblets, small bowls (Fig. 4), were exposed in two of its rooms. Six mud-brick cells lined with reddish clay were located in the center of the building, and two tabuns were in the south of the building.
The building continued to be used during the second phase (VIIIa), when several changes were made to it, such as demolishing and building walls, changing the location of doorways and raising floors. A burnt layer and collapse were discovered in two or three of the rooms, indicating that the building or parts of it had were violently destroyed.
In the last LB I stratum (VII), the area was re-inhabited: two or three walls of the previous building were reused, and new walls were constructed. The plan of the new building is unclear because of the poor preservation and numerous disturbances.
Iron Age I. A new settlement was established at the beginning of Iron I (Stratum VI), c. 250–300 years after the end of the LB settlement. Scant, unclear remains of mud-brick walls and floors that abutted them were exposed. These were constructed directly above the collapsed remains of the previous period. Numerous pottery vessels were exposed on top of the floors, among them store jars, kraters and cooking pots, some of which were complete. In addition to these, a Philistine krater and sherds decorated with typical Philistine motifs such as bi-chrome decorations (Fig. 5) were discovered. The remains should probably be attributed to tombs that were previously excavated in the cemetery to the south, and they contribute another tier of knowledge to our understanding of the Sea Peoples settlement in the region.
Roman Period (Stratum V; second–third century CE). Remains were discovered in two areas only. A stone floor was exposed in the southeastern part of the excavation. A refuse pit discovered in the center of the floor contained dozens of broken pottery vessels, including cooking pots and jars.
Byzantine Period (Stratum IV; sixth century–mid seventh century CE). A hall and a room, both paved with mosaics, were exposed at the northern end of the excavation (Fig. 6). The hall’s western and eastern walls survived, as did sections of the foundation of its northern wall. The mosaic pavement in the hall was preserved almost in its entirety and was adorned with a geometric decoration. Two phases of mosaic floors were identified in the room. The lower phase, which was relatively well preserved, was decorated with geometric motifs. The upper floor was poorly preserved and included a Greek inscription set in a tabula ansata, the center of which was damaged. The inscription consisted of three lines; only two or three letters remained in each line. Another mosaic floor was uncovered in a small probe excavated north of the hall’s northwestern corner. These finds suggest that the hall and the room to its east may have been part of a church. No remains dating to the Byzantine period were discovered in the area south of the church.
Umayyad Period (Stratum III; seventh century CE). A very large mud-brick structure was discovered. Even though sections of the walls were found throughout most of the excavated area, it was impossible to reconstruct its complete plan because the later construction of the Abbasid period damaged and destroyed large portions of the building. The floor of a plastered installation with a sump in its center was discovered east of the building, in the northeastern corner of the excavation (Fig. 7); the function of the installation is unclear.
Abbasid Period (Stratum II; eighth–tenth century CE). The latest settlement remains comprise a building and several installations that date to this period. The building was partially revealed in the eastern part of the area, where an entire room was discovered alongside parts of two other rooms to its east. The walls of the building were constructed of fieldstones, some of which were large, and gray mortar. A large, deep square cesspit built of fieldstones bonded with gray mortar and covered with a vaulted roof was revealed north of the rooms. A water channel and many tabuns (largest diam. 1.5 m) were exposed south of the rooms. Another building situated in the southern part of the excavation was exposed; its plan could not be reconstructed because of the modern destruction. A carved bone figurine of a woman is among the artifacts recovered from this stratum (Fig. 8).
The excavation findings indicate that the mound extends over a much greater area than was previously assumed. It is still unclear what event wrought the destruction of the public building in Stratum VIII (Thutmose III’s campaign?) and why the settlement was not renewed between the LB I (Stratum VII) and the Iron I (Stratum IV). The Iron Age remains and artifacts are the first evidence ever exposed of a Philistine settlement alongside a cemetery of the same phase. A unique phenomenon discovered in this excavation is the construction of mud-brick walls in the Umayyad period, which until now was only known in Ramla, which served as the provincial capital.