site located in the Beth-Neṭofa Valley in Israel's Lower Galilee, some 12 km (7 mi.) north of Nazareth (map reference 178 × 244). The mound, one acre in diameter, rises above the valley floor to a maximum height of 3.75 m. The settlement's original name is unknown. On the basis of a biblical passage (Jos. 19:13–14), F.-M. Abel (Géographie de la Palestine, Chicago, 1938) suggested that the original name of Tell el-Wawiyat was Neah, a settlement within the territory of the tribe of Zebulon. Unfortunately, the modern name of the site (Ar., Tell el-Wawiyat; Heb., Tel Vavit), provides no assistance in securing this identification.
In 1986 and 1987 two seasons of excavation took place at the site under the direction of Beth Alpert Nakhai, J. P. Dessel, and Bonnie L. Wisthoff. The project was sponsored by the University of Arizona, in conjunction with the William F. Albright School of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem and the American Schools of Oriental Research. William G. Dever was archaeological adviser to the excavation. Thirteen 6 × 6 squares, revealing six strata of occupation, were excavated, twelve of them in the eastern sector of the tel. Archaeological remains dating to the Iron Age were found 20 cm below the surface.
Middle Bronze Age II–III.
The earliest period uncovered at the site, discounting several sherds from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages, was the Middle Bronze Age II–III (seventeenth-sixteenth centuries BCE). The remains of stratum VI were limited to two child jar burials dated to MB III. One contained the bodies of two children, aged five and three, while the other contained an infant who died before reaching six months of age. The pottery placed within these two burial jars was most elegant in form.
Late Bronze Age.
No architectural remains from stratum V, the Late Bronze Age I (fifteenth century BCE), have been uncovered at Tell el-Wawiyat. The limited ceramic repertoire associated with the stratum is best seen as reflecting the end of the Middle Bronze Age tradition.
The most common find attributed to stratum IV, the Late Bronze Age II (fourteenth-thirteenth centuries BCE), was ceramic vessels. Unexpectedly, there was a great deal of imported pottery, attesting to Tell el-Wawiyat's wealth and its cosmopolitan character during this period: most was Cypriot, including White-Slip milk bowls and vessels in Basering I and II, and Monochrome, White-Painted, and White-Shaved wares. A limited amount of Mycenaean pottery and one Minoan sherd were also found. Included among the vessels produced locally for domestic use was the typical range of cooking pots, storejars, and bichrome kraters.
A simple ceramic figurine showing a mother embracing her child was among the artifactual remains of the period. One building, originally constructed in LB II, but better known from the Iron Age IA, provides almost the full extent of the architectural evidence from this period.
The proximity of Tell el-Wawiyat to several other settlements, including the large city of Ḫinnatuni (modern Tel Ḥannaton) and the smaller Tel Qarnei-Ḥittin, as well as its wide range of imported wares, elucidates the nature of the LB II settlement. This hamlet was likely a way station under the control of HÆinnatuni, supplying food and lodging to travelers and traders crossing the Lower Galilee.
Two stratum III (Iron Age IA, late thirteenth–twelfth centuries BCE) buildings separated by spacious open areas have been excavated. A large building in squares M–N in the northwestern quadrant of the excavated area was comprised of two main rooms and several smaller chambers. That this building was used for domestic activities is attested to by its assemblage of storejars, cooking pots, baking trays, and stands found with flint blades, basalt and limestone mortars, grinding stones and pestles, and worked-bone awls and needles.
The building complex in squares K–L in the southeastern quadrant of the excavated area was originally constructed in LB II and remained in use in Iron IA. Its main room contained an unusual assemblage: a basalt and limestone jar stand, a stone column base, a ceramic oven, and hewn and plastered stone blocks. The partially articulated bones of a cow lay on the floor in a corner alcove. In another room a very large stone bin set into the floor was surrounded by a double wall. Among the artifactual remains were a spearhead, a steatite jewelry mold, a delicate basalt tripod, a broken Astarte figurine, and remnants of gold leaf. The K–L building complex, with these unusual objects suggestive of elite status, had a specialized, possibly cultic function.
That the Iron IA site evolved from its LB II predecessor is apparent in the ceramic and architectural continuity between the two periods. While Iron IA Tell el-Wawiyat was a farming hamlet, those living there led socially and economically complex lives.
In stratum II (Iron Age IB, eleventh century BCE), both stratum III buildings were modified: numerous small walls subdivided their spacious rooms. It seems, then, that in Iron IB, squatters, possibly early Israelites, reoccupied the abandoned Iron IA Canaanite village.
- Alpert Nakhai, Beth, et al. “Tell el-Wawiyat.” Israel Exploration Journal 37.2–3 (1987): 181–185. .
- Alpert Nakhai, et al. “Tell el-Wawiyat.” Excavations and Surveys in Israel 6 (1988): 100–102. .
- Alpert Nakhai, Beth, et al. “Wawiyat, Tell el.” In The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, vol. 4, pp. 1500–1501. Jerusalem and New York, 1993. .
- Dessel, J. P., et al. “Tell el-Wawiyat.” Israel Exploration Journal 39.1–2 (1989): 102–104. .
- Dessel, J. P., et al. “Tell el-Wawiyat (Bet Netofa Valley), 1987.” Excavations and Surveys in Israel 7–8 (1990): 183–184. .
- Gal, Zvi. Lower Galilee during the Iron Age. American Schools of Oriental Research, Dissertation Series, 8. Winona Lake, Ind., 1992. .
Beth Alpert Nakhai