In June 2008, a salvage excavation was conducted in the southeastern part of Tamra (Permit No. A-5449; map. ref. 219359–86/750236–62; Fig. 1). The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by N. Feig, assisted by Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), H. Smithline (field photography), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and workers from Yafi‘a. Extensive assistance was also provided by the Al-Beiruni School and the community center near the excavation.
The city of T
amra is situated on the margins of the ‘Akko Valley, 18 km southeast of the city of ‘Akko. Guérin documented numerous ancient building stones incorporated in the houses of the village (Guérin 1880
:284); however, the British survey identified no antiquities at all (Conder and Kitchener 1881
:273). In the Israel Antiquities Authority Ah
ihud Survey (20), two antiquity sites were documented in T
amra (Lehman and Peilstöcker 2012
: sites 127
). At Site 127 (40 dunams), in the southeast of the city, were finds from the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze Age II, the Late Bronze Age, the Iron Age II and the Persian and Hellenistic periods. Site 128, in the city center, revealed remains from the Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods. Several excavations were undertaken in T
amra in the past: one by Fakhri Hasson in 1973 (Permit No. A-424); another, conducted in 1979 in the eastern part of the city, uncovered a burial cave containing loculi tombs with pottery coffins from the second–fourth centuries CE (Vitto 1980
; Fig. 1: A-820); and an excavation in 2004, conducted near the current excavation, revealed remains from the EB I–III (Smithline 2016
; Fig. 1: A-4169).
The current excavation, which took place in a sports field, was an expansion of the 2004 excavation. Two squares were opened (Fig. 2), revealing four settlement strata (IV–I) from the EB IB, II and III. The excavation extended down to virgin soil (depth 2.5 m). Using mechanical equipment, a layer of brown soil and stones that had served as the bedding for the asphalt ground of the sports field was removed. The bedding contained sherds dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods, which were apparently brought here with soil from the site in the city center.
Stratum IV – Early Bronze Age IB. A dense layer of stones (depth 5–10 cm) was uncovered in the earliest stratum. It was set on an earthen accumulation (thickness 0.20–0.25 m), which covered the bedrock. On the layer of stones were pottery sherds from the EB IB.
Stratum III – Early Bronze Age II. A courtyard (2.0 × 2.1 m) paved with small stones and bounded by walls on the north and south was uncovered. The walls were constructed of two rows of large stones, with a fill of small stones between them. A large stone mortar was incorporated set in the courtyard; nearby, to its north, was a well-smoothed stone slab (1 × 1 m; Fig. 3) abutting the northern wall of the courtyard; the slab was found smashed. On the courtyard floor were several pottery sherds, including platters and jars, dated to the EB II.
Stratum II – Early Bronze Age II. A structure, exhibiting two construction phases (Fig. 4), was built over the western part of the Stratum III courtyard floor; it seems that the eastern part of the courtyard continued in use. Two walls of the structure, the southern and the eastern, were unearthed; they were constructed of two rows of fieldstones, with a fill of smaller stones between them. A well-tamped earthen floor mixed with crushed limestone (thickness c. 0.24 m), which abutted the walls, was attributed to the earlier phase of construction (IIa). In the later phase (IIb), the floor was raised by laying a layer of stones (thickness 0.25–0.30 m) throughout the structure; the layer of stones abutted the structure’s walls. A round installation (diam. 0.6 m, depth 0.4 m) was cut into the layer of stones. North of this installation was a well-smoothed stone slab (1 × 1 m), resembling the slab found in Stratum III. The later construction phase was also identified outside the structure: the same layer of stones with a round installation (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.45 m; Fig. 5) was found in the northeastern corner of the excavation area. Numerous pottery sherds were found on the floors of both construction phases. The pottery, dating from the EB II, includes two cylindrical seal impressions on body sherds of metallic ware jars or pithoi. The floors also yielded basalt hammerstones and pestles, as well as a limestone mortar.
Stratum I – Early Bronze Age III. The latest stratum in the area re-used the Stratum II structure and the courtyard to its east. This stratum yielded EB III pottery, including a wide variety of Bet Yerah vessels. Not only is this the first Bet Yerah assemblage to be found in the ‘Akko Valley, but its range of types may indicate the presence of a production center for these vessels at the site.
Guérin V. 1880. Description géographique, historique et archéologique de la Palestine
Vitto F. 1980. Tamra. HA 73:39 (Hebrew).
Conder C.R. and Kitchener H.H. 1881. The Survey of Western Palestine II: Galilee. London.
Smithline H. 2016. An Early Bronze Age IB–Early Bronze Age III Occupation Sequence at Tamra, Western Galilee. ‘Atiqot 84:1–19.