Last year I was excited that the floor of the house we had excavated in 2009 continues from the western edge of Tell Halif east towards the centre of the tell. Of course we knew that a house could be that large, but our concern was not so much that a house had stood here, but rather that its remains had been preserved. During Byzantine times, some major earth movement had occurred on Tell Halif. We have not discovered any houses from Byzantine times; rather it seems that the top of Tell Halif was leveled to be used for agriculture. Some walls may have been reinforced to serve as terrace walls, others were robbed to use the stone elsewhere. Towards the centre of the tell, more of the soil was disturbed during preparation for agriculture. That’s why when excavations reached further away from the edge of the tell, we have often found just backfill, with pottery of all ages mixed together, and little context.
But our floor was saved from destruction, even though little above it, people had indeed turned the soil upside down during Byzatine times and we find just a mixed context. It can tell us that during the Iron Age, that is the time of the kings of Judah, there was a major occupation on Tell Halif. And with careful analysis of the pottery, more, but limited, conclusions could be drawn. But having a floor is something else. It can tell us much more about the houses in which people lived, about how they used the space and the materials that were part of their daily life.
This is the picture of our floor continuation. Here we found pottery only on a strip about one metre wide, with the rest of the floor nearly empty. It may also have been disturbed in the parts without pottery.
It may be a bit hard to make out, but there is nearly a complete cooking pot on the floor, as well as parts of two large storage jars and two smaller “holemouth” jars. Once we add these pieces to our plan of the floor, we have a better idea of how the room may have been used. And I will have to revise my Masters Thesis, which I did on this room.
What is exciting is that there is even more pottery in the balk. The room seems to continue towards the centre of Tell Halif. Even though it may only be 3 to 4 metres wide, the room is at least 10 metres long. That gives us quite some exposure. Even though other parts of the house have been disturbed in Byzatine times, we have the snapshot of this room from the 8th century BCE.