In 1971, an excavation at the ruin (Permit No. K-3/1971; see Urman 1985 for the inscriptions discovered in the excavation) exposed a building in which there were three large pithoi still standing, and other finds that dated to the Hellenistic period (third–second centuries BCE). Another excavation, in 1985–1986, exposed a building with five rooms, constructed of fieldstones (Hartal 2006). Pithoi and other artifacts from two phases in the Hellenistic period (third–first centuries BCE) were found inside the rooms. Hartal, who analysed the finds, concluded that Horbat Zemel was a settlement of nomades, probably inhabited by Itureans. When the residents abandoned the place they took their personal belongings but left the large storage vessels inside the buildings. Prior to leaving they sealed the entrances to the buildings. It is unknown why they did not return to the site.
Remains of a wall and pottery, which date to the Hellenistic period and are affiliated with the Iturean culture were found slightly east of the site in an excavation in 2006 (Zingboym 2008).
The boundaries of the archaeological remains were identified in trial trenches prior to the current excavation (Fig. 2).
An area of c. 150 sq m was excavated, and numerous fragments of pottery from the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods were found, but no architectural remains (Fig. 3).
Squares A1, B1, B3, C2, E2 (L107, L110). A scant number of pottery sherds and modern objects were found down to the level of the bedrock.
Squares A4, B4, A5 (L106). The surface of the bedrock was leveled with a fill of soil and small stones. The bases of many large storage jars, probably pithoi (Figs. 4, 5), which could be dated to the Hellenistic period were exposed above this fill. The area was obviously severely damaged by mechanical equipment.
Squares D4, E4. Here too the bedrock surface was leveled with a fill of soil and small stones (Fig. 6), and on top of it were fragments of pottery vessels. The quantity of finds was considerable, and included pithoi, cooking pots, bowls and jugs (Fig. 7), all from the Hellenistic period. The assemblage includes vessels made of local, light-colored Golan clay, containing medium and large inclusions. Bowls (Fig. 8:1–6), mortaria (Fig. 8:7–11), cooking pots (Fig. 8:12, 13), jugs (Fig. 8:14–19), jars (Fig. 9:1, 2), pithoi (Fig. 9:3–11) and fragments of decorated pithoi (Figs. 10:1–8, 11) were found.
Previous excavations determined that Horbat Zemel was a settlement of nomads, which was inhabited briefly in the Hellenistic period. The pottery led to attributing the occupation to the Itureans, who started at this period the transition from nomadic existence to small permanent settlements in the northern Golan. No architectural remains were discovered, but the large quantity of pottery, all of it from the Hellenistic period, is consistent with the findings of earlier excavations.
The current excavation defined the extent of the destruction that the site underwent over the years. Nothing remained of the ancient buildings that were found in the excavations of several decades ago, and the rest of the ancient settlement’s remains were eradicated over the years. The severe damage that was very likely done by mechanical equipment razed the ancient settlement down to the level of the bedrock. Nevertheless, there are probably still some architectural remains scattered here and there.