In July–August and October–December 2018, a salvage excavation was conducted in Areas K and L (Sections 1 and 2 respectively) at the site of ‘En Esur (Asawir; Permit No. A-8185, map. ref. 202193/709409; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by I. Elad, Y. Paz and D. Shalem, with the assistance of A. Kleiner, G. Tal, O.Segal, Y. Alexandre, M. Krakovsky, S. Emanuelov, K. Rafael, T. Badihi, A. Sánchez Streger and N. Getzov (area supervision), E. Oren (inspection), R. Abu-Salah, Z. Lotan, Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), Y. Shmidov, M. Konin and R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (field photography and drone), Y. Marmelstein, M. Abu and Y. Shmidov (photogrammetry), L. Brailovsky (flint), M. Pines (faunal remains), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), E. Yannai (pottery), P. Gendelman (scientific guidance), as well as K. Said and M. Masarwa.
The excavation continued in Areas K and L (Sections 1 and 2; Fig. 2; Elad and Paz 2018; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2018; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2019), which form a long, narrow strip, the width of two excavation squares (10–12 m wide), extending from the center of the protohistoric site (Area L) to the northeastern edge of the site (Area K). Twelve sub-areas were opened in both sections (K1–K8, L1–L4), with a total of 153 squares. An active Bezeq telecommunications line runs through Area L, along which excavations were prohibited, and therefore at some points the excavation strips were only half as wide, the width of one excavation square (Fig. 3). An old water pipeline, which had damaged ancient remains, runs through both areas. Tectonic activity may also have damaged some of the architectural remains, causing floors to sink and slant.
The excavation revealed built remains and finds dated to the Pottery Neolithic, Early Chalcolithic and Late Chalcolithic periods, the Early Bronze Age IB and the Early and Late Roman periods. It should be noted that in Area L, near the center of the site, no remains from the Early Bronze Age IA were found. This indicates that the settlement during this period did not extend south of present-day Highway 65 (Elad, Paz and Shalem 2019).
The Pottery Neolithic period. Finds from this period comprise pottery fragments, including those of a large jar with knobs and a small jar attributed to the Yarmukian culture. No architectural remains were found.
The Early Chalcolithic period. Walls, floors and installations, some of which were very fragmented and meager, were found in most of the excavation areas; sherds from this period were found in all the excavation areas. Area K5 was particularly rich in finds' in several of this area’s squares the excavation reached virgin soil. Several superimposed floors, consisting of tamped layers of small stones, were found under a thick accumulation (c. 1.5 m) in all six squares in Area K5. Sherds, flint items and animal bones were found between the floors, and small installations were incorporated in some of the floors (Fig. 4). Parts of these floors had sunk, apparently due to tectonic activity (Fig. 5). Two areas—K4 and K6—contained adult burials in a mediocre state of preservation. It seems that the Area K4 burials were placed under a floor; however, only one burial was excavated due to flooding of the area with rainwater.
The Late Chalcolithic period. A wall segment, part of a floor and an installation were discovered in Area K6. Sherds from this period were found in several excavation areas, but mainly in Areas K1 and K6.
The Early Bronze Age IB.Built remains from this period were found throughout the excavation area (Fig. 6). However, in some of the areas, especially in Area K, preservation was fragmentary, apparently as a result of modern damage. Area L revealed three strata of settlement from this period, whereas in Area K only two such strata were identified. Remains from the earliest stratum were uncovered only in Area L2; these included two silos and a wall segment. Remains of numerous walls, which in only a few cases were part of a built complex, were attributed to the middle of the three strata. In Area L1 remains of a building (Fig. 7) were also attributed to the middle stratum. Similar buildings were uncovered in other areas of the site (Elad and Paz 2018: Fig. 4; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2018: Fig. 8). Only scant remains of the middle stratum were unearthed in Area K, probably because the settlement began extending eastward, toward Area K, only later in this period. The latest stratum is the main one of the three, to which numerous remains were attributed in both areas. These include rectangular dwellings with rounded corners, and capsule-shaped structures, which were discovered in many other areas of the site. Round structures, identified as silos (Elad, Paz and Shalem 2018; Elad, Paz and Shalem 2019), were also found. Due to the restricted width of the excavation area, most of the remains belonged to partially exposed buildings, and only few of the buildings could be fully unearthed (Fig. 8).
The Early and Late Roman periods. Remains from these periods were found only in Area K3. Two superimposed stone surfaces were found directly on top of the remains from the Early Bronze Age. They were dated according to pottery finds to the Early Roman period. Some pottery from the Hellenistic period was also found in the lower, earlier surface. The lower surface, which was well preserved, consisted of small stones interspersed with numerous fragments of pottery vessels (Fig. 9). The upper level, which was poorly preserved, was apparently built in a non-uniform manner: some of the stones were small, and others were medium-sized.
A refuse pit (depth 0.1–0.3 m) attributed to the Late Roman period was uncovered in the western part of Area K3; it extended beyond the excavation area. Most of the pit was shallow (depth 0.10–0.15 m); only a small portion was deeper (0.3 m). The deeper part of the pit was found directly above the upper surface of stones from the Early Roman period, while the shallow part was found above a layer of soil that had accumulated over this stone surface. Within the pit were large quantities of pottery fragments, as well as glass fragments and coins, all dated to the Late Roman period.
Elad I. and Paz I. 2018. ‘En Esur (Asawir). HA-ESI 130.
Elad I., Paz I. and Shalem D. 2018. ‘En Asur (Asawir), Area M. HA-ESI 130.
Elad I., Paz I. and Shalem D. 2019. ‘En Asur (Asawir), Area O. HA-ESI 131.