Three excavation squares (A–C; Fig. 1) were opened and three habitation layers were exposed: a built installation and occupation level from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Stratum 1), remains of a building from the Early Bronze Age (Stratum 2) and an occupation level from the Chalcolithic period (Stratum 3).
Stratum 1 (The Roman-Byzantine Periods)
Square A. A rectangular installation (1.15×1.52 m, depth 0.35 m; Figs. 2, 3), dug into the earth (depth 0.9 m) and completely lined with small limestone and basalt fieldstones bonded with gray mortar, was exposed. The sides of the installation (width 0.22–0.28 m, preserved height 0.38–0.51 m) had remains of gray plaster only on the interior of the western wall (Fig. 4). No plaster remains or other lining were discovered on the top sides of the installation and it therefore seems that the upper part of the installation did not survive. Several body fragments of pottery vessels from the Roman period were discovered in the soil around the installation. The potsherds discovered alongside the upper part of the installation included a base of an imported Eastern Terra Sigillata bowl (Fig. 5:3), dating to the Middle Roman period, a Kefar Hananya bowl, Type 1E (Fig. 5:6), dating to the Late Roman and Early Byzantine periods and a krater (Fig. 5:9) and jar (Fig. 5:10) from the Byzantine period. The installation was sealed with stone collapse, plaster and alluvium. Channels where water once flowed and areas covered with travertine were discovered in the layer of soil above the installation.
Square B. A thick layer of travertine deposits, which had crystallized on the ground and was overlain with numerous water snails, was discovered (Fig. 6). The level of the travertine layer was high and it therefore seems that this layer formed as a result of water flowing from a nearby source, located south of the square. Many fragments of pottery and glass vessels were discovered in the square, in gray soil that probably belonged to the habitation level associated with the installation in Square A. The pottery finds included Kefar Hananya vessels, among them a Type 3B bowl (Fig. 5:4) dating to the Late Roman period, a Type 1D bowl (Fig. 5:5), a Type 4C cooking pot (Fig. 5:7) dating to the Middle Roman period, and a Type 5B jug (Fig. 5:8) dating from the Late Roman period to the Early Byzantine period.
Several potsherds from the Persian period were discovered in Squares A and B, including a mortarium (Fig. 5:1) and a jar (Fig. 5:2) that could be indicative of a presence at the site in this period.
Stratum 2 (The Early Bronze Age)
Square C. Remains of what was probably the eastern part of a building dating to the Early Bronze Age (Figs. 7, 8) were discovered at a depth of 1.55 m below the surface. Three layers of alluvium were discovered above them. Fragments of pottery vessels from the Roman and Byzantine periods were discovered in the upper alluvium layer. The bottom alluvium layer contained wadi pebbles and a thin deposit of travertine that also covered the top of the largest wall in the building (W7). Three walls (W7, W14, W21) built of limestone and basalt fieldstones and preserved one–two courses high, were exposed. The walls in the north of the structure were built on travertine deposit; in the middle of the building they were founded on a thin accumulation of gray soil, potsherds; and flint and in the south of the building the walls penetrated into a habitation level from the Chalcolithic period. The southern part of W7 (preserved length 4.3 m, width 0.65–0.75 m) curved toward the southwest. Only the foundations of W7 at its northern and southern ends were preserved, built of small fieldstones and fragments of gray and brown mud bricks. Wall 14 (preserved length 1.1m, width 0.21 m) did not abut W7, perhaps because of its poor state of preservation. It probably served as a foundation for a low partition between two units in the building or was part of an installation. Wall 21 (preserved length 1.45 m, width 0.35 m) was apparently built on a travertine deposit. A foundation, aligned east–west and built of small basalt fieldstones and fragments of brown mud bricks, was exposed along the northern side, close to the bottom of the wall; it seems to have been the foundation of W21. It seems that W21 separated two units in the building. The building’s floor was not exposed and apparently, it did not survive. Several non-diagnostic potsherds and flint tools from the Early Bronze Age (below), as well as bones including a horn and mandible, probably belonging to goats/sheep, were discovered in the soil layer on both sides of W7 (L15, L16). The flint tools included four Canaanean sickle blades (Fig. 9:6–8) and a denticulated flake.
Stratum 3 (The Chalcolithic Period)
Square C. A habitation layer (L11) was exposed in the southern part of the square. It consisted of gray soil and a few small fieldstones, which contained homogenous finds flint artifacts from the Chalcolithic period. The flint finds included ten tools (below), among them seven sickle blades (Fig. 9:1–4), a bifacial item (Fig. 9:5), a scraper and an awl. Most of the ceramic artifacts from Strata 3 and 2 were in a deteriorated state of preservation, probably due to their proximity to water.
One hundred thirty-one flint artifacts were discovered in the excavation and only fifteen of which were tools. Most of the items were knapped from two kinds of flint, one good quality, fine-grain beige–gray flint, and the other dark gray flint of mediocre quality, which contained chalk inclusions that make knapping difficult. The good quality flint comes from a remote source, which based on its texture is probably from Har Haruvim. The mediocre quality flint comes from a local source, probably wadi pebbles that were collected in the channel that crosses through the northern part of the city. Most of the flint items were fashioned from the good quality flint and a small number of items, which are fossil directeur, were knapped from the mediocre quality flint. The items are well preserved, most are fresh and only several of them have a thin limestone cortex.
The flint items recovered from the excavation include sixty-five flakes, three of which are primary flakes, twenty-seven blades and bladelets, seven cores, two core debitage, fifteen chips and fifteen tools. The flint assemblage includes only a few chips and natural chunks, which are important components of the debitage; thus it seems that the collection of the flint during the excavation was selectively done. Based on the high percentage of flakes and flake tools among the finds, the industry at the site can be characterized as a flake industry. The percentage of the flakes from the industrial debitage is more than 40% of the items; however, most of the tools were fashioned on standard blades. Another characteristic of the finds is the size of the flakes; more than two-thirds of the flakes are broad and relatively thick (width 3–5 cm), whereas the small flakes are few in number (width 1–3 cm) and most were produced from cores that have a single striking platform. The cores in the assemblage are usually small and fully depleted. Five of the seven cores have one striking platform. Blades and bladelets were produced from two cores; flakes were produced from three cores and the two remaining cores are shapeless after having been fully depleted.
The tools were mostly knapped on blades, although the industry at the site is a flake industry. This conclusion is probably inaccurate due to the selective collection of the finds. Two groups of tool types were discerned, representing two industries that are different in nature and chronology.
The large group of tools includes ten implements that were discovered in Sq C, Stratum 3 (L11). The tools in the group are homogenous; they date to the Chalcolithic period and include tools that are unequivocally fossil directeur. These tools are homogenous from the standpoint of raw material and typology. They are made on good quality gray–beige flint. They include seven sickle blades (Fig. 9:1–4) fashioned on narrow blades that have an abrupt back and the complete ends were broken off. Some of the cutting edges are finely denticulated and others are not and only bear considerable signs of use. The gloss sheen on most of them is limited to a narrow strip on their cutting edge, which indicates they were used as sickle blades for harvesting. This group also includes a bifacial item that was discarded during its preliminary knapping (Fig. 9:5). Its ventral face was fashioned with coarse lateral bifacial knapping, but its sides and dorsal face were shaped with more delicate knapping. It was discarded when its cutting edge broke, probably because of an error in knapping. Two other tools in this group are a scraper and an awl, which are considered ad hoc tools in flint assemblages.
The small group of tools includes five implements that were discovered in Sq C, Stratum 2 (L15, L16), which is dated to the Early Bronze Age. Four of the tools are Canaanean sickle blades. They were fashioned on long standard blades, produced in the Canaanean technology (Fig. 9:6–8). Four of the sickle blades are broken, missing part of their ends; oily gloss sheen is apparent on their cutting edges. The fifth tool is a denticulated flake fashioned from the same raw material as the sickle blades.
The installation exposed in Stratum 1 is dated from the second half of the third–fifth centuries CE, based on the potsherds. Most of the pottery in this layer dates to the Roman period and a small amount is dated to the Byzantine period. Most of the pottery was locally produced but several imported vessels were noted, including Eastern Terra Sigillata ware. The vessels from the Roman period resemble the pottery produced at Kefar Hananya. The installation was built in a place of abundant water; therefore, its use was probably water-related and it may have been a small pool. Since no natural source of water is known at the site, it is reasonable to assume that the water came from the system of aqueducts that belonged to the city of Nysa-Scythopolis. The installation’s location in an open area, outside the city, might indicate its connection to agricultural activity.
The building exposed in Stratum 2 consisted of at least two small adjacent architectural units. The southern part of W7 curved, possibly due to poor construction or because the building was elliptical, a shape characteristic of buildings in Early Bronze Age I. The building was presumably used as a dwelling and it further evince the existence of a large settlement, to the southwest and outside Tel Bet She’an in the Early Bronze Age. This settlement, adjacent to sources of water and fertile ground, probably served as an agricultural hinterland of the urban settlement on the tell. The habitation level discovered in Stratum 3 is ascribed to the Chalcolithic period. Based on the diversity of the flint tools recovered from this level, it can be assumed that the place was occupied in this period. The finds from the Chalcolithic period are probably related to those from this period that were gathered in a survey conducted in Shikun Vav, south of the excavation area (Zori 1962).