During June–July 2002, February 2003 and June–July 2003, two trial and one salvage excavation were conducted at two separate areas within the Early Bronze Age site of Qiryat Ata (Permit Nos. A-3661, A-3807; map ref. NIG 21043–53/74489–93; OIG 16043–53/24489–93). The excavations, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Qiryat Ata municipality (Area N) and the contractor, I. Boblil (Area O), were directed by A. Golani, with the assistance of A. Abu-Hamid, S. Mahajna (registration, Area N), S. Ya‘aqov-Jam (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), N. Zak and I. Berin (drafting), T. Sagiv (field photography), C. Amit (studio photography), R. Gat (pottery restoration), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), I. Lidsky, C. Hersch, L. Zeiger (ceramic and flint drawing), as well as J. Sharvit, T. Horwitz, S. Golan (district archaeologists) and R. Liphshitz (local antiquities trustee).
The Early Bronze Age site at Qiryat Ata has been extensively excavated since 1990 (IAA Reports 18), revealing stratified remains from the Pottery Neolithic, EB IB and EB II periods. Consequently, all the excavation areas have been labeled in sequential order (Fig. 1).
The excavations in this area comprised three separate sub-areas: Square A, Squares E, F and a small probe to the east of Squares E and F.
Square A is situated adjacent to and east of Ha-Te’enim and Ha-Shoftim Street junction. Two major occupational strata were identified in this square.
Stratum II. Beneath the Stratum I surfaces, several earlier walls that may be reconstructed as a two-roomed building with wide outer walls (thickness 1 m; Fig. 2) and rounded exterior corners were exposed. The entrance to the northern room was on the west and within the room was a large portion of a crushed hole-mouth jar upon a beaten-earth floor, whose elevation was slightly lower than the base of its walls. The southern room was only partially excavated and also had a beaten-earth floor at a few cm below the base of its walls. The building may be dated to EB IB on the basis of its pottery.
Stratum I. The latest remains consisted of several walls and associated floors, which did not readily lend them to an ordered plan, dating to the EB II period.
Squares E and F, located 25 m to the east of Square A, revealed a dense concentration of building remains that belonged to a large multi-roomed structure, wherein three phases of architectural modifications were discerned. A fill (0.3–0.4 m thick) that appeared to have leveled the area prior to construction was identified below Phase 3. Deep probes below the fill revealed a dark brown alluvium layer that contained a limited number of worn EB IB and EB II potsherds. This latter layer was interpreted as the basal level upon which the archaeological occupation was founded.
Phase 3, the earliest occupation phase, was only partially exposed and included the remains of several beaten-earth floors and walls (Fig. 3). Much of the Phase 3 architecture was dismantled during the construction of Phase 2, which immediately succeeded the Phase 3 occupation.
Phase 2. Portions of the Phase 3 walls continued in use, while new walls were added, forming several small, interconnected rooms and corridors (Fig. 4). A complete room (A; Fig. 5), in whose center was a rounded stone pillar base was uncovered. A short corridor (Room C) led into Room A from the north, while to its west and east additional rooms with shared walls were located (Rooms B, D, E, F; Fig. 6).
Phase 1, the upper phase, preserved most elements of the pre-existing plan, yet included numerous architectural modifications. The corridor leading into Room A was blocked off and became a very small room. A new entrance was installed into Room A from the south. Room E was enlarged and a round stone pillar base installed in the new center of this chamber. Two complete metallic-ware pithoi, found adjacent to each other in an upright position and sunken 0.4 m into the floor, were revealed within this room (Fig. 7).
No in situ remains of Stratum II (EB IB) were revealed in Squares E and F, indicating that the EB IB settlement apparently ended somewhere between Square A and Squares E, F. All the archaeological remains in Squares E and F dated to EB II and should be associated with Stratum I. The intensity of the EB II occupation in Squares E and F indicated that the Stratum I settlement probably extended further to the east. A small probe excavated 65 m to the east of Squares E and F (see Fig. 1) was devoid of in situ archaeological remains, suggesting that the outer limit of the Stratum I settlement should be sought in the area between this probe and Squares E and F.
This excavation, located between Areas K and G, was immediately to the south of Ha-Te’enim St. and at the southern fringes of the site (Fig. 1).
A thick overburden of modern building debris covered the archaeological remains in this area. Removal of this layer by mechanical means revealed the top of the original dark brown topsoil layer that covered the entire site, while numerous modern intrusions had severely damaged the uppermost archaeological remains. Three primary settlement phases were identified.
The earliest settlement phase was founded upon bedrock and included a curvilinear wall along with several associated beaten-earth surfaces, all dating to the EB IB period (Fig. 8). The wall was found below a large Stratum I wall and may possibly be reconstructed as belonging to an oval-shaped building. Three similar and probably contemporary buildings associated with Stratum III had previously been excavated in Area A, located 30 m to the north (see Fig. 1).
The Stratum 3 oval structure went out of use, as beaten-earth surfaces of Stratum 2 were found above the Stratum 3 walls and surfaces. The main Stratum 2 remains included a structure that may be reconstructed as circular in plan (Figs. 8, 9), also dated to EB IB. A large amount of burnt mud bricks found within the structure bear witness to its destruction by an intense conflagration. Similar structures of Stratum II were uncovered in Area F (see IAA Reports 18).
No continuity was observed between the Stratum I occupation, dated to EB II, and that of Stratum II, dating to EB IB. The Stratum I remains were found within a dark brown matrix immediately below the surface. These consisted of a large fortification wall (width 3.0–3.5 m) that was exposed for 21 m (Figs. 10, 11). The wall, preserved a single course high and heavily damaged by erosion and modern intrusions, was built of two parallel rows of medium-sized fieldstones and a core of smaller chinking stone. The wall was set directly upon the previous remains of Strata II and III. In the center of the exposed portion, a double, parallel line of stones delineating its southern face appears to represent a rebuilding or buttressing of the wall. To its north were a large open area, possibly a street, and fragmentary remains of a few parallel structures. To the south of the wall, three limited exposures uncovered the remains of a continuous packed layer of small stones that sloped down from the wall. This layer, laid upon alluvial soil and bedrock, is interpreted as a constructional glacis intended to stabilize the earth outside and down the slope of the wall against erosion.