Chalcolithic Period. Eighteen shafts and pits ascribed to the Late Chalcolithic period were discovered; three different types were discerned:
1. Broad, shallow, round pits (diam. 2 m, depth 1.5–2.0 m). These were probably used initially for storing food or agricultural surplus, but later filled up naturally with black soil mixed with pottery sherds, animal bones and flint items. The source of the finds was very likely a settlement whose remains have yet to be discovered.
2. Deep, narrow, round shafts (diam. 1 m, depth 5–6 m). Their original function is unclear, but in a later phase they served as refuse pits, with household waste, including pottery sherds dating to the Late Chalcolithic period, discarded in them.
3. A bell-shaped pit that contained gray soil and a large amount of flint tools and debitage.
Middle Bronze Age. Two burial concentrations were discerned in the southeast and in the northwest of the excavation area. Eighteen cist graves, in which a single individual was usually buried in anatomical articulation, were discovered; most of them were in a poor state of preservation. The deceased were generally placed on their side, along an east–west axis, with their legs and arms flexed (Fig. 3) and were surrounded by funerary offerings, such as pottery, animals and in some instances weapons, such as a dagger or a spear head. These items date the graves to the Middle Bronze Age IIB.
Hellenistic Period. Finds from this period comprise ceramic finds, mostly body sherds of jars and bowls; noteworthy are fragments of Rhodian handles and a body fragment of an Attic lamp, indicative of trade. No evidence of settlement remains from this period was found in the excavation area.
Roman Period. Remains were found mainly in the northwest of the excavation area. These consisted of a potter’s kiln and sandy brown levels of soil that yielded a multitude of pottery and small finds, most of which date to the Late Roman period (second–third centuries CE). A meager amount of ceramic artifacts belonging to the Early Roman period (first century BCE – first century CE) was also discovered. The kiln, which was kidney-shaped, was exposed in Sqs N1–O1 (Fig. 4); its preservation allowed to identify the firebox, but not the firing-chamber complex. The stokehole was identified on the northeastern side of the kiln. An accumulation of collapsed mud-bricks was uncovered within the firebox—probably remains of the firebox itself; body sherds of pottery vessels, mainly jars, were also found. A surface with pottery sherds from the Late Roman period was discovered in the northeastern part of the excavation area.
Byzantine Period. Most of the building remains—belonging to at least four structures (1–4; Fig. 2)—were discovered in the northeastern part of the excavation area. Other remains, including installations, a well and a refuse pit, were discovered in the northwestern and southeastern parts of the site. A rich assemblage of ceramics, coins and glass-vessel fragments characteristic of the period was gathered. The activity conducted at the site during this period can be divided into three phases, dating to the fifth-seventh centuries CE. Some of complexes and buildings were constructed in the first phase and continued to be used in later phases.
Building 1 is a rectangular structure aligned along a general east–west axis (Fig. 5). Its size, its massive construction and the apparent investment in building it, all suggest that its owners were economically well-off. The building was used in all three phases of the period. In the first phase, its rooms were probably constructed around a central courtyard; over most of its area was a very massive, well-built stone pavement that was probably divided into several activity areas. Six rooms, in most of which only the foundations were preserved, lay to the north and west of the courtyard; several of the rooms were paved with stone. In the second phase, a new structure was erected on the remains of the earlier building. The remaining walls indicate that like the previous building, this structure was large, and a significant investment was made in both its planning and construction. Sections of very poorly preserved mosaics adorned with geometric patterns, made of colored tesserae, survived in some of the rooms. Clay tabuns of a common type were discovered in the western room. The building continued to be used in the third phase, albeit to a lesser extent. Sections of several walls and a section of a plaster floor were preserved. The building’s foundations were constructed on top of the wall remains of the first two phases.
An underground room was discovered northeast of the Building 1. It was constructed with the exact orientation as the building (Fig. 6), and was probably a silo-like storeroom. Its walls, which survived eight courses high, were built of very large limestone blocks and were treated with light gray plaster; the roof was not preserved. A staircase in the western part of the room led to a tamped-earth floor. Although no direct link was discovered between Building 1 and the underground room, their proximity and identical orientation suggest a possible connection between them.
Building 2 was erected along a northeast–southwest axis (Fig. 7). Judging by its construction style, it seems to have had an earlier nucleus, probably constructed during the first phase, to which a western wing was added in the second phase. Nine rooms were excavated. Their walls, preserved mostly at foundation level, were built of dry construction utilizing medium-sized and large dressed limestone blocks. The building’s floor was preserved in the northeastern room. Ceramic finds, a tabun and a plastered installation discovered in the southern rooms indicate that the southern wing was used for preparing food and for storage, thus having a household function. Beneath the installation’s plastered floor was a cache of c. 60 bronze coins buried in the foundation of an earlier wall. The preliminary identification of the coins points to a date in the fourth–fifth centuries CE.
Building 3 comprises a long, narrow corridor flanked by rectangular rooms to its north and south (Fig. 8). Its walls, preserved mostly at foundation level (3–4 courses), were built of medium and large ashlars set on clay soil. A mosaic floor adorned with geometric decorations and composed of colored tesserae was discovered in a fair state of preservation in the northwestern room. The floor had partly collapsed where a shaft was dug in the Chalcolithic period. Intact vessels and a large number of coins were discovered on the mosaic floor. We can assume that the building served as a dwelling, judging by its architectural plan and the domestic nature of the pottery found in it.
Building 4 was by and large preserved at its foundation level (Fig. 8). Six rooms of various sizes were discovered: the two southern rooms were large, while the northern ones were smaller and seem to have been added at a later phase. A partially preserved stone pavement carrying numerous artifacts, including stone objects such as an Olynthus millstone and basalt items, was uncovered in the northwestern room. The finds in the northern rooms indicate that these were used for household activities or as a kitchen. In-situ threshold stones were found in some of the rooms, indicating the directions of movement within the building. There was evidently another wing of rooms in the building, which extended eastward, beyond the excavation limits.
According to the pottery from Buildings 3 and 4, they have been ascribed to the second phase. An unpaved alley (width c. 4 m) was discovered between the two structures, with a habitation level rich with ceramic artifacts running its entire length.
Installations. A variety of installations was found. A round installation discovered in the middle of the excavation area (Sq I9) was lined with small fieldstones; at its center was white plaster surrounded by burnt material. Two pits, which contained an accumulation of sandy soil, were dug into the clay in the northwestern part of the excavation (Sqs N6–N7). In the middle of one of them was an even row of limestones that may have divide the pit into separate spaces. Judging by the ceramic finds from the pits, they should be ascribe to the second phase.
Refuse Pit. A refuse pit containing an assemblage of pottery vessels that characterize the site—imported bowls, bag-shaped jars, cooking pots, jug and juglets—was exposed in the southeastern part of the excavation area (Sqs K10–K11), c. 40 m southwest of the residential quarter. It seems that it was dug and used by the residents of the site during the second phase.
Well. A well (Sqs Q2–R2; diam. 1.8 m; Fig. 9) built of large dressed limestone blocks without mortar was exposed in the northeastern part of the excavation. It was excavated to a depth of eight courses. An accumulation of clay soil was removed from the well, yielding a variety of pottery sherds dating to the fifth–sixth centuries CE. The accumulation reflects the time when the well went out of use. Since the well was not fully excavated, the time of its construction remains unknown. By comparing its levels to those of the other remains, the well can probably be dated to the Byzantine period.
Early Islamic–Ottoman Periods. A small assemblage of pottery vessels, suggesting that activity took place near the site during these periods, was collected, but no architectural remains were discovered. Pottery dating to the Umayyad period was discovered mostly in the vicinity of Building 1, and may be indicative of some kind of activity that transpired there.
The excavation finds allow us to determine that the area was inhabited intermittently since the Late Chalcolithic period. The nature and size of the site changed in each period. Pits and shafts date to the Late Chalcolithic period; the absence of architectural remains from this period raises questions regarding the location and nature of the settlement. The Early Bronze Age and Intermediate Bronze Age finds comprise a scant amount of pottery sherds that are of no aid in characterizing the activity that took place at the site. During the Middle Bronze Age II, the site was used as a burial ground, and funerary offerings consisting of animals, pottery and weapons were found, as is customary in graves of this period. Some activity might have taken place at the site in the Iron Age and Persian period, but the meager amount of sherds from these periods make it difficult to characterize it. The Hellenistic-period ceramic finds are indicative of activity in the vicinity of the site, the focus of which has yet to be located. Activity was renewed in the Late Roman period, when pottery was produced at the site. The technology utilized in the construction of the kiln shows that it was built by knowledgeable professionals. The products from the kiln, consisting mainly of domestic wares, suggest that the kiln provided a nearby—but yet unknown— settlement with its products. The Roman-period finds from this excavation and from previous ones (mainly kilns) suggest that an industrial zone was situated c. 300 m south of the tell; this activity might aid in understanding the nature of the settlement at this time, even though its remains have not been discovered. During the Byzantine period, the area was no longer used for industry; instead, a settlement was built in the fifth–sixth centuries CE and ceased to exist in the early seventh century CE. A large building was erected in the fifth century CE; it went out of use in the sixth century CE, when another structure was constructed on top of it. In the sixth–seventh centuries CE—the height of activity at the site—the construction was expanded, and at least four buildings that we have clear architectural plans for were erected. Their rooms were spacious, and in some of them mosaic floors were preserved. Judging by the ceramic artifacts and the layouts of the buildings, it seems that they were used as dwellings. The buildings related to each other, as is discerned in their orientation and the distances between them, and it is obvious that their construction was planned; an example for this is the alley between Buildings 3 and 4. The assemblage of imported vessels, the large number of coins and the small finds are all indicative of an affluent population that resided at the site during the sixth–seventh centuries CE. At the beginning of the seventh century CE, the activity there was greatly reduced, and only Building 1 can be attributed to this phase. Only several pottery sherds can be ascribed to the Early Islamic and Ottoman periods, with no evidence of habitation.