Area A. A rocky area (c. 400 sq m; Fig. 2) was excavated along the southern fringes of the highway, where installations and a burial cave were uncovered. The installations, irregular in shape, seem to have been natural cavities that were widened and prepared for use for a variety of purposes. The installations were covered with soil mixed with small stones and a scant amount of pottery sherds dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods. Sherds from the Early Bronze Age IV were found in several of the installations. These included bowls (Fig. 3:1, 2), a hole-mouth (Fig. 3:3) and jars (Fig. 3:4–7); the side of one of the jars (Fig. 3:6) is adorned with a rope ornamentation, and that of another jar (Fig. 3:7) is decorated with a knob and two incised parallel stripes. These finds may indicate the date of the installations’ use. The installations will be described below from east to west.
An installation (L22; Sq A/3; Fig. 4) comprising two adjacent rectangular basins joined by a channel (width 0.3 m) was excavated at the eastern end of the area.
Two installations (L12, L26) were found in Sq A/4. Chisel marks were discerned on the northwestern wall of Installation 12, and a bronze coin dating to 31/2 CE (IAA 143483) was found on its floor. A jar base dating to the EB IV was embedded in an elongated recess adjacent to the outside of the installation.Installation 26 was a conical pit (diam. 0.96 m; Fig. 5) connected in the east to a hewn, rectangular pit (depth 0.6 m).A cupmark was noted on a step leading to the pit.
Signs of rock-cutting were evident on the bedrock walls in three amorphous installations (L23, L27, L30; Sqs A1–B/3–4).The fill inside the installations contained river pebbles and small sherds dating to the EB IV.
Sq B/3 yielded a round installation (L10; diam. 1.1 m, depth 1 m) and an installation (L18) that consisted of two adjacent cavities: an elliptical, western cavity (depth c. 0.7 m) with a funnel-like cross-section and a shallow, eastern cavity (depth 0.4 m) whose northern wall was destroyed. A through-hole (width 0.28 m) linked the two cavities.
An arched opening (0.65 × 0.80 m; Figs. 2: Section 1–1; 6) of a burial cave (L16) was discovered in Sq C/4.Three hewn steps covered with sandy soil led into the burial chamber.A rectangular stone, dressed to fit the opening of the cave, was found atop the sandy layer, right by the opening and above it. The area near the opening, which led into the burial chamber (1.70 × 3.25 m), was filled with soil. Two loculi were perpendicularly hewn in each of its three walls; another loculus might have been hewn in the western wall, which remained covered with alluvium.The loculi’s ceilings were curved and of uniform height (0.9 m; Fig. 7). Human bones, non-articulated, were discovered on the floors of the loculi. Scant fragments of ribbed jars (Fig. 3:9) were found in the burial chamber.
No archaeological finds were discovered in the installations examined in Sqs C–D/3–4.
Area B. An area partially overlapping the trial trenches dug in March–April 2012 was excavated along the highway’s northern shoulder, yielding two quarries, a burial cave and installations.
Rock-cut channels (width c. 7 cm, depth c. 5 cm) in the eastern quarry (L40) indicate that at least three stones were removed. Two rectangular recesses (depth 0.2 m) were hewn next to each other south of the channels.
The western quarry (L41; Fig. 9) comprises channels (width 5–7 cm, depth 5 cm) that surround the negatives of at least five rectangular stones (0.5 × 1.1 m) that were cut in a large rock (2.8 × 3.5 m). A round rock-hewn installation (L47; diam. 0.8 m, depth 0.6 m) with straight walls was discovered at the western end of the quarry.The upper part of the installation was surrounded by a channel on which a lid could be placed.The installation contained soil fill and several pottery sherds from the Roman period.
An antechamber of a burial cave (L42; 2.2 × 3.5 m, depth 2.25 m; Fig. 10) was discovered slightly south of Quarry 41. It consisted of a rectangular space (1.4 × 2.2 m) with a level floor, from which six rock-hewn steps (average width 0.35 m, average height 0.3 m) descend to the west. An arched entrance (0.7 × 0.9 m; Fig. 8: Section 2–2) in the northern wall of the antechamber led to a burial chamber, which was not excavated.The opening was blocked by a rectangular stone, which was removed during the excavation. A roll-stone (diam. 1.1 m) was discovered in situ, next to the antechamber’s eastern wall. It was standing in the southern corner of a rock-hewn niche, and probably blocked the entrance to another burial chamber. The surface of the stone was decorated with a shallow natural channel (Fig. 8: Section 1–1).
An elliptical installation (L43; 0.70 × 1.15 m, depth 1 m; Fig. 11) with straight walls and a level floor was hewn in the lower portion of a stepped bedrock surface. The soil fill inside the installation contained cooking pot fragments dating to the end of the Roman period (Fig. 3:8).
Another installation—a round depression (L45; max. diam. 2.65 m, depth 0.5–0.7 m) with straight walls and a leveled floor, all meticulously hewn—was discovered west of Installation 43.The surface of the bedrock was fractured above and around the installation, suggesting that it was deeper in the past.
Installations that were used in the Early Bronze Age IV were discovered in the excavation. Over time, the installations were damaged as a result of the natural weathering of the bedrock, making it difficult to understand their function. Other installations and quarries, which dated to the Roman period on the basis of the ceramic finds, indicate that the area was used for industry and agriculture during this period.The two burial caves can be ascribed to the necropolis that extended between Horbat Kosit and Baqa al-Gharbiya (Gorzalczany and ‘Auda 2007