The circles building (Granary) at Tel Bet Yerah (Khirbet el-Kerak): A new synthesis (Excavations of 1945-1946, 2003-2015)

Raphael Greenberg, Hai Ashkenazi, Alice Berger, Mark Iserlis, Yitzhak Paz, Yael Rotem, Ron Shimelmitz, Melissa Tan, Sarit Paz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New excavations conducted in the Circles Building (Granary) at Tel Bet Yerah, first excavated in 1946, form the basis for a revised, detailed description of the construction and use of this unique structure. Stratigraphic soundings have established that the structure consisted of three platforms with seven circles sunk into them, enclosing a paved courtyard that was open toward the east. The structure was constructed in a single operation, at the transition between Early Bronze Age II and III, but it seems to have been abandoned before it was completed and given over to new tenants who changed the trajectory of its use. These new inhabitants are responsible for the bulk of the deposits excavated in and around the building, which are characterized by large quantities of Khirbet Kerak Ware and complementary lithic and other assemblages. We suggest that the building was conceived as part of the corporate urbanizing project of Early Bronze Age II, but was overtaken by a crisis that deflected the urban trajectory of Tel Bet Yerah in Early Bronze Age III and allowed the entry of migrant groups, such as those bearing the Khirbet Kerak Ware tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-202
Number of pages40
JournalBulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
StatePublished - Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
2 The Tel Bet Yerah Archaeological Project of the Tel Aviv University Institute of Archaeology has enjoyed the support, since 2001, of the Israel Science Foundation, the White-Levy Program for Archaeological Publications, the National Geographic Society (in 2007), and the Friends of Tel Bet Yerah. Fieldwork collaborations have included David Wengrow and the University College London’s Institute of Archaeology (since 2009), the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology (2010), and the Institute for Field Research (since 2012). The present report was written primarily by Greenberg and Ashkenazi, based on earlier research by S. Paz, on fieldwork and field reports by Iserlis, S. Paz, and Y. Paz, and on finds analyses by Berger (archaeobotany), Rotem (EB I ceramics), Shimelmitz (lithics), and Tan (phytoliths). The charred seed and phytolith studies were supervised by D. Fuller and A. Rosen at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. Plans were prepared by Dov Porotsky and the authors, photos by P. Shrago and the authors, and pottery drawings by Y. Gottlieb, Y. Rudman, and I. Ben-Ezra.

Funding Information:
Renewed research on the Circles Building was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant nos. 378/09 and 310/12), National Geographic Exploration (in 2007), the Institute for Field Research, the Marco and Sonia Nadler Institute of Ar- chaeology at Tel Aviv University, and the University College London Institute of Archaeology. Our thanks to Amihai Mazar and the Israel Antiquities Authority for archival material.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Schools of Oriental Research.


  • Architecture
  • Bet Yerah
  • Circles Building
  • Early Bronze Age
  • Granary
  • Khirbet Kerak Ware
  • Urbanization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Archaeology


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