Finds dating from the MB IIA to the Late Ottoman period were exposed. A cemetery with twenty-six tombs (T10–T23, T25–T27, T30–T33, T36–T40; Fig. 2) ascribed to the MB IIA, MB IIB and the Late Bronze Age was excavated. In addition, nine rock-cuttings (T24, T28, T29, T34, T35, T41, T43–T45) that were similar to the tombs were found, and they may be quarried tombs that were left unfinished. The rock-cuttings were shallow, with an elliptical outline narrowing toward the center, and round holes were drilled in some. Numerous fragments of ex situ vessels dating to the Hellenistic period were exposed, and several whole vessels were discovered in a cavity (T42) hewn in the kurkar. The site was abandoned until the Late Ottoman period, when a saqiye well which opened to an underground quarry was built, and next to it a plastered installation to hold liquid was exposed.
Middle Bronze Age II – Late Bronze Age
Seventeen tombs (T11, T14–T16, T18–T20, T23, T25–T27, T32, T36–T40) that can be dated to the MB IIA and MB IIB were exposed. The tombs contained sixty-one individuals, with funerary offerings that included serving and storage vessels (Fig. 3) and several types of bowls (Fig. 4), mainly open bowls with a ring base, carinated bowls and curved bowls. Other vessels included pithoi and jars, some of them with dipper juglets in situ (Fig. 5), amphoriskoi, and a variety of juglets (Fig. 6), including piriform juglets with a button base and Tell el-Yahudiyeh juglets. Bronze pins were found together with the pottery. Some sixty whole pins and numerous fragments were discovered. The pins were used to fasten garments, some were decorated with gold and silver, and they were found alongside individuals of both sexes. Among the funerary offerings were two round basalt grinding bowls and grindstones (Fig. 7), a basalt potter’s wheel and a rare find of decorated ostrich eggs. In addition, four fragments of flat bone-plaques decorated with engraved herringbone or scale-like pattern, and with a hole perforated through them were found. Daggers, similar to ones found in a MB IIB cemetery at Tel Qasile (Kletter 2006), and axes, similar to those discovered in Tel Aviv harbor (Kaplan 1955) were exposed. Other artifacts included a group of Egyptian vessels, some made of alabaster and faience, and fifty-six scarabs, most of them decorated with images of animals and geometric patterns, which are characteristic of Hyksos art. The tombs can be classified as four main types: shaft tombs, pit graves dug in sandy soil mixed with kurkar, rock-hewn pit graves for a single individual and built tombs.
Shaft Tombs have a common basic plan, which includes a small vertical entrance shaft (max. depth c. 2 m; Fig. 8), elliptical or rectangular, leading to hewn, semi-circular burial spaces (Fig. 9). Most of the tombs had a single burial space, and several had two or three spaces. In a number of shafts, equal-size recesses were hewn in the walls, apparently to assist in descending into the burial spaces. In some of the tombs there were depressions to secure jars. When there was no more room for new burials in a tomb, the shaft was filled with soil. In some instances, the remains of individuals, not in articulation, were found in this fill together with whole pottery vessels and animal bones; they may testify to an additional, final burial phase in the shaft. The tombs contained multiple burials of six or seven individuals of both sexes, spanning a wide age-range (0.5–50 years of age). Individuals in articulated position were found in several tombs, mainly lying in supine position in an east–west direction, head to the east, near the opening (Fig. 10). Similarly positioned individuals were found in the cemetery at Rishon Le-Ziyyon (Levi 2005:62) and at Tel Aviv harbor (Kaplan 1955). The bones in most of the burial spaces were heaped or scattered over the entire surface, directly on the floor. The entrance to the burial spaces was usually sealed with fieldstones and a small amount of lime-based mortar (Fig. 11). In several graves a foundation of fieldstones with mud-brick material above it was found, suggesting that several of the burial spaces were sealed with mud-bricks. In some cases a large stone slab trimmed to fit the entrance was used to close the opening (Fig. 12).
Pit Graves Dug in Sandy Soil Mixed with Kurkar. This type of grave has a round or semi-circular outline. They contained several layers of intact pottery vessels in situ—most of them bowls and jars—together with numerous metallic objects, mostly spearheads and fibulae. The remains of individuals, not in articulation, were found near these funerary offerings. As in the case of the shaft tombs, more than one individual was found in these graves.
Pit Graves Hewn for a Single Individual. The graves all have a similar plan, elliptical or rectangular, and are hewn in the kurkar. Five graves were revealed, each of them containing the non-articulated remains of a single individual, probably in secondary burial.
Built Tomb. One tomb consisting of a single, semi-circular burial cell built of a row of stones adjacent to a kurkar outcrop was found. The cell contained a jar in situ. Continuing the line of the burial cell and adjacent to the kurkar rock, was an entrance built of fieldstones and hamra-based mortar. Below the entrance were two bowls, one on top of the other, and a juglet, all in situ. Nearby a circular hole which was drilled to ascertain if the rock was suitable for quarrying a shaft tomb was uncovered; similar drill-holes were revealed in the eastern part of the cemetery.
Late Bronze Age
Nine rock-cut tombs (T10, T12, T13, T17, T21, T22, T30, T31, T33) dating to the LB were discovered. They each had an elliptical or rectangular burial space, in which the non-articulated remains of a single individual were found. The tombs contained pottery imported from Cyprus, including milk bowls (Fig. 13), jugs and juglets. A hewn antechamber was added in front of the entrance to two of the tombs, as well as side burial-cells, which were sealed with stone slabs.
Hellenistic pottery, mainly fish plates, jars and an intact lamp, were found ex situ in the northern part of the excavation area. The vessels were discovered during preliminary inspection of the site, and most of them were mixed with modern debris that washed from the top of the kurkar hill. Approximately 100 m to the south, a shaft sealed with a stone slab led to a shallow underground cell hewn in the kurkar (T42). Intact bowls and a goblet adorned with floral patterns (Fig. 14) were exposed in this space. The purpose of the space was not fully clarified, but since no other artifacts were found, it was probably intended as a concealment place for vessels.
A saqiye well (L337; Fig. 15) was exposed in the southern part of the excavation area. It consisted of four elements: a well, a storage pool and two cells. A plastered entrance to a large underground cavity, which was used as a quarry (L343), was found next to the southern wall of the pool. A plastered installation (L324; Fig. 16) for storing liquids was exposed slightly south of the well.
A large cemetery, which was primarily used in the MB IIB, and remained in use during the LB was exposed. The tombs were hewn in kurkar outcrops. Two common types of burials were identified: shaft tombs with one or two burial spaces, which were used for a nuclear or extended family; and graves which were rock-hewn or dug in soil mixed with kurkar,and were intended for the burial of single individual. The contents of the burials were commonplace, with several exceptions of rare finds: an ostrich eggs, numerous scarabs, fibulae and vessels made of alabaster and faience. The pottery and the metal objects lead to the conclusion that most of the tombs were in use during the MB IIB. The considerable similarity between these finds and those from the cemeteries that were revealed at Tel Qasile and the Tel Aviv harbor, indicates cultural affiliation between the three sites. Similar artifacts were also discovered in a large cemetery that was excavated at Rishon Le-Ziyyon (Kletter and Levy 2015). Other cemeteries containing Middle-Bronze tombs were exposed at Azor (Gorzalczany, Ben-Tor and Rand 2003), Dhahrat el-Humraiya (Ory 1948) and Afeq (Kochavi, Beck and Yadin 2000). It is unclear with which settlement the cemetery at Tel el-Ḥashash was associated; it was probably used by the residents of Tel Gerisa, or a nearby settlement that has not yet been discovered.