Stratum II
Remains of five walls (W119, W120, W128, W140, W141), a concentration of stones (L145) and a pit (L132) were discovered. The walls were built partly on the bedrock and partly on soil fills. Wall 119 was constructed in a south-southwest–north-northeast direction of medium and large fieldstones preserved to a height of two courses (0.6 m). Wall 120 was curved (length 4 m, width 0.4–0.5 m) and was built of a single row of large fieldstones preserved to a height of one course (0.5 m). A surface (L144; 1 × 1 m) made of small fieldstones was revealed beside the eastern face of the wall. Wall 128 (length 2.2 m, width 0.4 m) was constructed of medium-sized fieldstones oriented along an east–west axis. A stone concentration (L145), possibly a cairn, was exposed adjacent to the northern face of W128. Wall 140 curved in a general northwest–southeast direction and was built of one row of large fieldstones (length 2.5 m, width 0.45 m); it survived to a height of one course (0.4 m). Wall 141 also curved and was built in a general east–west direction of a single row of large fieldstones (length 4 m, width 05 m); it was preserved to a height of two courses (0.65 m). Pit 132 (depth 0.35 m) was exposed next to the northern side of W141. It was filled with gray soil replete with sherds, broken stone implements, flint tools and bones. The bedrock served as the pit’s floor.
The remains discovered in Stratum II seem to indicate a small settlement that included buildings, some of which were round, with small courtyards and installations in between, such as Surface 144 and Pit 132. Similar settlements are known from the EB IV in the Negev Highlands, for example at Har Zayyad (Cohen 1999:94–103), Mash’abbe Sade (Cohen 1999:117–130) and Be’er Ressisim (Cohen 1999:200–224). In recent years, a similar settlement was revealed south of Modi‘in; however, the buildings at this site had straight walls (Milevski et al. 2012).
Pottery. The pottery vessels discovered in Stratum II are handmade and date from the EB Age IV. The assemblage includes small, round bowls with plain and pointed rims (Fig. 3:1–3); medium-sized bowls with a flat, inverted rim (Fig. 3:4–6) or a folded-out rim (Fig. 3:7, 8); cups with a flat base, an upright wall and a pointed rim, with horizontal lines incised on the upper part of the wall (Figs. 3:9; 4); numerous holemouths occurring in a variety of rims, including straight-cut rims (Fig. 5:1–4), rims with a depression at the top (Fig. 5:5–7) and rims with an inner or outer ridge right below (Fig. 4:8, 9); a cooking pot with holes drilled in its rim (Fig. 5:10) of a type usually dated to the earliest phases of the Middle Bronze Age II (e.g., Aphek—Beck 2000:113), but as no artifacts from this period were discovered at Bet Nehemya, such vessels seem to have first appeared in the EB IV; amphoriskoi with slightly flared rims and two adjacent loop handles (Fig. 6), decorated with incised diagonal and horizontal lines and herringbone patterns on the upper part of their body and neck (Fig. 7:1–3), including amphoriskoi that have a beveled rim (Fig. 7:3); jars with beveled rims (Fig. 7:4–8) similar to the amphoriskoi rim, including jars that have diagonal incising on their neck (Fig. 7:4, 5), jars with an outer ridge on their rim (Fig. 7:9, 10), jars decorated with thumb indentations (Fig. 7:11) and jars that have vestigial ledge handles (Fig. 7 :13–16), all of which have a flat base (Fig. 7:12); and a jug with a plain, flared rim and a loop handle that extends from it (Fig. 7:17).
The pottery assemblage belongs to the EB IV ‘Southern Family’ and resembles ceramic assemblages found at sites east and south of Bet Nehemya, in the mountains, the Judean Shephelah and the northern and central Negev. A similar assemblage belonging to the ‘Southern Family’ pottery was also found at an EB IV (Middle Bronze I) site near Modi‘in (Milevski et al. 2012:88–102).
Flint Items. Fifty retouched flint items were collected in Stratum II, including five sickle blades (10% of the assemblage; Fig. 8), one blade/flake core and debitage. The blade/flake core and debitage indicate that tools were knapped at the site. Four of the sickle blades are made on Canaanean blades (Fig. 8:2–5) and are characteristic of every Early Bronze Age site in the region (e.g., Friedmann 1996:137; Milevski et al. 2012:107–117); three (Fig. 8:3–5) bear sickle sheen. One sickle blade is made on a backed blade (Fig. 8:1) that usually dates to the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods and may be related to earlier finds that were discovered elsewhere at the site (van den Brink et al. 2001).
Stone Items. The assemblage of stone objects included a mortar or large stone krater (Fig. 9:1), three grind stones: one made of beach rock (Fig. 9:2), another made of basalt (Fig. 9:3) and the third—of limestone (not drawn). Also found were two limestone weights (Fig. 9:4, 5) and two flint pounders (Fig. 9:6, 7).
Stratum I
Wall remains (W142; length 1.3 m, width 0.25 m) built of two rows of small fieldstones along a southeast–northwest axis were exposed at a depth of 0.1 m below the surface; they were preserved to a height of one course (0.2 m). Alluvium (max. depth 0.3 m) found on both sides of the wall yielded a scant amount of pottery sherds dating from the Byzantine and Early Islamic periods. The wall was probably a fence used to delimit cultivation plots in the agricultural hinterland of a settlement from these periods that was discovered c. 500 m south of the excavation (Site 77, Area Y).
The excavated settlement site is a new addition to the map of Early Bronze Age IV sites in the Ben Shemen region. To date, no settlement sites from this period were discovered in the immediate vicinity, as only burial sites (at Shoham; van den Brink and Gophna 1998; Gophna and Beit-Arieh 1997:36*–37*, Site 54) and sherd scatterings without architectural remains (at Tel Lod and el-Haditha; Brand 1999; Gophna and Beit-Arieh 1997:11*, 62*–63*, 66*–68*, Sites 170, 184). The closest contemporary settlement site was discovered near Modi‘in, c. 10 km southeast of the excavation (Milevski et al. 2012). Given the finds in the excavation, it seems that the settlement was a small village inhabited by permanent residents engaged in farming and in raising livestock. The sickle blades are indicative of grain cultivation, and the grindstones show that grain was processed and prepared for consumption. The variety of pottery vessels used for cooking, serving and storage imply that the agricultural products were consumed and stored at the site. The large amount of animal bones indicates that the residents cared for livestock in addition to farming. The ceramic assemblage at the site dates to the Early Bronze Age IV (2350–2000 BCE). Based on two fragments of a cooking pot rim of a type common mainly in the Middle Bronze Age II (Fig. 5:10), the site can be accurately dated to the second half of the period (2200–2000 BCE).