Intermediate Bronze Age (Stratum III). A floor of tamped small fieldstones, gray soil and crushed chalk (L124; Fig. 4) founded on a layer of sterile earth, was exposed. It was constructed on two levels—a high level in the west and a low level in the east—separated by a row of basalt stones (W122). A destruction layer that included a cluster of smashed Intermediate Bronze Age vessels (L120) was discovered on the floor. The diverse, rich finds in the pottery cluster included a bowl of finely levigated clay with red decoration (Fig. 5:1), characteristic of the Bet Sheʽan and Jezreel Valleys, that were found in shaft tombs at Tel ‘Afula (Gal and Covello-Paran 1996: Fig. 10:1–3); an open krater with a thumb indented ledge handle (Fig. 5:2) similar to those uncovered at Tel Qishron (Smithline 2002: Fig. 13:8); neck-less globular cooking pots with an everted rim and a round base (Fig. 5:3–10), several of them decorated on their upper part with incised lateral stripes or stripes with triangles between them, such as those found at other Jezreel Valley sites, for example, at Tel ‘Afula and Horbat Qishron (Gal and Covello-Paran 1996: Fig. 10:10–17; Smithline 2002: Fig. 12:2–13); long-necked jars with a barrel-shaped body and a flat base (Fig. 5:11–13), some decorated with a beaded necklace-like puncture design at the base of the neck, an ornamentation common in the Intermediate Bronze Age and found on similar vessels at Horbat Qishron and in tombs at Jebel Qa’aqir (Smithline 2002: Fig. 16:10; Dever 2014: Fig. 11.62:4, 6); a jar decorated with lateral stripes (Fig. 5:14), similar to jars, mainly from tombs, such as at Tel ‘Amal (Feig 1991: Fig. 5:6); a ledge handle (Fig. 5:15), usually found on jars but occasionally on bowls; and an amphoriskos made in two parts, body and neck, decorated with red paint (Fig. 5:16), the likes of which were found in the cemetery at Ma‘abarot and at Horbat Qishron (Dar 1977: Fig. 10:7; Smithline 2002: Fig. 17:11).
Umayyad Period (Stratum II). The remains of a dwelling constructed on two levels, separated by a massive retaining wall (W111), were exposed above the Intermediate Bronze Age building remains. On the lower northern level was a stone-paved courtyard (L126; Figs. 6, 7) and on the higher, southern level was a wall (W113). Wall 111 was built of basalt and nari fieldstones and a small-fieldstone fill bonded with gray mortar; its southern face rested on the bedrock. Courtyard 126 (2.9 × 3.0 m) was paved with flat basalt fieldstones, overlain on a layer of brown soil (L129) that covered depressions in the nari. Several pottery sherds dating to the Roman and Umayyad periods were uncovered in Foundation 129. A wall (W125) constructed of limestone and nari stones, some coarsely dressed, was built in the eastern part of the courtyard. On the floor in the courtyard’s southeastern corner was a nari trough (0.60 × 0.66 m, depth 0.2 m; wall thickness 0.1 m) with a draining hole hewn at ground level in the center of its western wall. A similar trough was exposed at Nein in an Umayyad-period layer (Mokary 2009a). An accumulation of soil that included Umayyad pottery sherds was discovered on the floor. The Umayyad-period ceramic finds retrieved from Foundation 129 and above Floor 126 included fragments of a krater decorated with a wavy design (Fig. 8:1), such as kraters from Bet Sheʽan made in the Umayyad pottery workshop (Bar-Nathan 2011:245, Fig. 11.11:3); a krater with a stepped rim adorned with thumb impressions (Fig. 8:2); a neck-less cooking pot with a folded rim (Fig. 8:3); lids made of pale red clay (Fig. 8:4, 5), apparently, based on their diameters, used with the kraters; northern-type bag-shaped jars of gray clay, some of them brownish pale red in color, with a plain upright rim, their body decorated with white painted geometric patterns (Fig. 8:6–10), common in the seventh–eighth centuries CE; and a strainer jug with a prominent ridge at the center of the neck (Fig. 8:11) that first appears in the Byzantine period and continues into the beginning of the Early Islamic period (sixth–seventh centuries CE), found, for example, at Caesarea (Arnon 2008:38, 149, Type 526).
Mamluk Period (Stratum I). Six rooms (A–F, Fig. 9) of a residential structure also built on two levels, north and south (Fig. 9), were uncovered. Room A was constructed on the lower northern level; only its eastern part was excavated (2.4 × 5.1 m). The walls of the room (W105, W106, W127) were built of two rows of limestone and nari fieldstones and a small-fieldstone fill, preserved to a maximum height of seven courses. The walls were founded on a fill of soil and small stones (L110, L117), the same fill that covered the Stratum II flagstone pavement. Excavation of the fill revealed pottery sherds dating to the Early Islamic and Mamluk periods and a coin dating to 1468–1496 CE (IAA 139196; see Kool, below). Benches (shelves[?]; width 0.7 m, height 0.65 m) supported by a series of fieldstone arches (Fig. 10) adjoined the southern and northern walls of the room; they served both as furniture and for storage. The room’s floor (L128), made of gray soil and tamped crushed chalk, was founded on a fill of earth and small fieldstones (L130) containing Mamluk pottery sherds. Above the floor was an accumulation of gray soil that included Mamluk pottery sherds. Smaller Rooms B–F were constructed on the higher southern level of Room A (Fig. 11); their walls were built of a single row of fieldstones and were preserved to a maximum height of four courses. These walls were founded in part on the remains of the Intermediate Bronze Age habitation levels. The floors of the rooms (L112, L114, L115, L123) were made of tamped gray soil and were set on a fill of gray soil and medium- and large-sized fieldstones. An accumulation of gray soil and fieldstones (L103, L119) containing pottery sherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age and the Umayyad and Mamluk periods was discovered above the floors. The pottery assemblage from Stratum I included fragments of a glazed bowl with a ring base decorated with a radial design painted beneath a turquoise glaze (Fig. 12:1), similar to vessels found in ‘Akko and Bet Sheʽan and dated to the mid-twelfth and thirteenth centuries CE (Avissar and Stern 2005:26, Type I.2.3:1); a similarly-glazed bowl with a black and turquoise decoration beneath a clear glaze (Fig. 12:2); a green-glazed bowl with an infolded rim (Fig. 12:3) dating from the twelfth century CE to the Mamluk period (Avissar and Stern 2005:40, Type I.4:2); two yellow- and green-glazed bowls decorated with an incised floral pattern and a wavy design on the rim (Fig. 12:4, 5) dating to the fourteenth–fifteenth centuries CE; a glazed bowl decorated with a reticulated design (Fig. 12:6) dating to the late thirteenth century CE, a common type during the Mamluk period; a jug with a ridge in the center of the neck (Fig. 12:7), belonging to a group of wheel-made jugs that have a conical spout; and handmade vessels decorated with painted geometric patterns in cream, brown and red, typical of the Mamluk period (Fig. 12:8–10).
Robert Kool
Two coins were uncovered, one of which was identified: a half dirham of the Mamluk sultan Qa’it Bay (IAA 139196; AH 873–901; 1468–1496 CE) struck in the mint at Aleppo, Syria. Coins of Qa’it Bay, who ruled for approximately 28 years, are relatively rare finds in excavations in Israel. Over the years, only about 41 coins were uncovered in excavations. The majotity of these came from two gold hoards discovered in Ashqelon (11 coins) and near Ramla (16 coins). Two similar half dirhams were found in the Hula region: one (IAA 81542; in the collection of Kibbutz Sede Nehemiah) from the area of the former Arab village of ed-Dawarrah, and the other (IAA 115832), south of ed-Dawarrah, in Tahunat el-Mallaha, known from twelfth–fourteenth century CE sources as a rural settlement by the names Malha and Merla.
The excavation in the village nucleus of Nein is of great importance because it revealed for the first time that the village began in the Intermediate Bronze Age. The settlement remains from this period are close to the spring, and similarly to other settlements of this period, it too was established on a hillside on the fringes of the Jezreel Valley. This settlement was apparently related to the area used to process agricultural products discovered previously, north of ‘En Ha-Moreh (Covello-Paran 2011 [Fig. 1: A-4275]). Settlement at the site was apparently only renewed in the Umayyad period, and developed and flourished afterward, in the Mamluk period.