A village was founded in the Refa'im Valley at the end of the Early Bronze Age (2200-2000 BCE). The houses consisted of a single story with a varying number of different-sized rooms, built on exposed rock surfaces, sometimes next to low rock cliffs. Their walls were constructed of fired bricks on low stone foundations and the earthen floors were leveled with stone surfaces. The flat roofs were constructed of wooden beams and plaster, supported by wooden posts with stone bases recessed in the floors. In some of the buildings, cultic stelae, flat standing stones, were placed against the inner walls of rooms.
In the eastern part of the village, remains of several building complexes, each extending over an area of several hundred square meters, were exposed. Each complex consisted of a number of dwelling units with several rooms. Some houses had common walls and some were built around a courtyard, probably for livestock and for domestic activities. It is assumed that these complexes were the result of several building phases: first, a single unit was built by the father of the family; then units for the extended family were added. These clusters of buildings are indicative of settlement over a period of several generations.
The livelihood of the villagers was based on agriculture and herding. Agricultural crops included grains, lentils, olives and grapes, planted on small plots of land around the village and in the valley. Livestock consisted primarily of sheep and goats, herded for grazing on the surrounding hills, and hunting of wild animals supplemented the villagers' diet.
Pottery produced and used in the village was of hand-made coarse clay, well fired. Huwwar, the main material used by the village potters, was readily found in the limestone rock. This was mixed with sand mined from narrow, deep caves in the hard limestone within the village limits. The vessels produced were mainly large, barrel-shaped storage jars, cooking pots, cups and bowls.
The exposure of the Early Bronze Age village in the Refa'im Valley is of great importance for the study of settlement patterns at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE. Until now, researchers had believed that large cities, such as Arad and Megiddo, were destroyed by nomadic tribes at the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, and that for the next several hundred years, no permanent settlements existed in Canaan. With the exposure of the remains of other villages from the end of the 3rd millennium BCE, similar to that in the Refa'im Valley, it is now evident that a village culture replaced the destroyed urban one and that these rural settlements were established by the population that had abandoned the fortified cities.
The Later Village