During February-July 2005 a salvage excavation was conducted in Ein Tut. Habitation layers of the Mamluk and Herodian periods and the Iron Age were exposed at the site.
The remains of the Iron Age (Strata III-VI) include a large building; probably only its northern part was excavated. The building includes a courtyard (20 x 35 m) enclosed by thick walls (it was not fully exposed to the south). This compound included a number of building phases. This courtyard extends across the eastern area of the excavation.
In the western area remains of a square compound built of a series of parallel walls, delineating it from the north, east and west were exposed (the southern part was not excavated). Some of this compound’s walls survived on the surface level after the building was abandoned, and often appear as a bottom phase in secondary use in the construction of the Roman period (Stratum II).
Long rooms arranged parallel to the outer walls of the compound were exposed the length of the walls enclosing the building.
The finds include a large amount of pottery vessels, especially jars. Outstanding among them are eight LMLK type impressions stamped on the handles of jars. In Nahal Tut impressions were identified with the inscription “Hebron” and “Ziph”. All of the impressions belong to the double wing type.
In addition a Hebrew seal on a precious stone was recovered that is adorned with a decoration of four pomegranates and the inscription Lmkh [ben] Amihai, probably an official in the royal administration.
The site probably functioned as an administrative and government center at the end of the 8th century BCE and may have been fortified. The LMLK type jars that were exposed in situ in connection with the buildings date the structures with certainty. The unusual amount of LMLK impressions at such a northern site raises numerous historical and chronological questions regarding the extent and nature of the revolt of Judah against the Assyrian kingdom.
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