The excavation followed a survey (License No. S-604/2015), which was conducted prior to development work and focused on locations slated for the construction of roads. Nine such locations were identified in the survey; six of them yielded archaeological finds (Fig. 2). Of these, several were excavated, whereas others were only documented. The excavation uncovered a rock-hewn winepress that probably dates from the Middle Bronze Age and an Ottoman field tower, as well as two natural caves, rock-hewn installations, a quarry and a field wall that are impossible to date.
A simple rock-hewn winepress (2.3 × 3.8 m; Figs. 3, 4) with rounded corners was excavated. It included a treading floor (L104; 2.3 × 2.6 m) and a collecting vat (L103; 1.1 × 1.2 m, depth 0.9 m). Part of the winepress was damaged by natural erosion of the rock. At the bottom of the collecting vat, a natural cave was discovered (L108; max. dimensions 1.8 × 2.2 m, depth 1.1 m; Fig. 5). The workers preparing the winepress appear to have encountered the natural cave, and they may have abandoned the work as a result of the discovery. The cave yielded no finds and contained no signs of quarrying. It is difficult to date the winepress, but based on the rounded rock cutting it may date from the Middle Bronze Age (Getzov, Covello-Paran and Tepper 2011
). The collecting vat yielded potsherds that were probably swept into it and do not date the winepress: two Roman-period bowls (Fig. 6:1, 2), one of which is a Kefar H
ananya 1B type (Fig. 6:2).
B1 (Figs. 7, 8). Two rock-cut steps—an upper one (L214), which was only partially hewn, and a lower, square one with a depression in the center (L215; Fig. 9)—may have been part of a quarry or an installation whose function is unclear. Immediately beneath the hewn steps, to their south, was an installation (L216): fieldstones of various sizes placed in a semicircle on the rock face. To the south of this built installation, several hewn depressions were set near each other in a straight line (L218; width 0.2–0.3 m; Fig. 10). The rock-cut steps and the depressions extending away from them in a line may be the remains of a rock-hewn road that had stones arranged along its lower section to facilitate ascent.
B2 (Figs. 11, 12) yielded a one-roomed field tower (3.0 × 3.3 m) with an entrance in the west. The walls were built of two rows of limestone blocks of various sizes, some of them roughly dressed, and were preserved to a maximum height of four courses. Bonding material made of lime mixed with earth was found between the stones. The structure’s entrance was built of worked limestone stones (L208; 0.25 × 0.70 m, 0.2 m high). Its floor was composed of a mixture of lime and earth (5–10 cm thick). Remains of a hearth were found in the structure’s northwest corner, near the entrance (Fig. 13).
A piece of jewelry made of poor-quality silver (Fig. 14) was found on the structure’s floor. The ornament resembles a perforated coin from the reign of Sultan Mahmud II, which was minted in Qustantiniya (Constantinople) in 1827/8 CE. The location of the structure, erected directly on the bedrock, was probably chosen because the rock is relatively level there; the natural hollows in the rock were filled in with stones. It was apparently built during the Ottoman period, and its final use as a field tower dates from the nineteenth century CE.
C1 (Fig. 15). A field wall (length c. 12 m, width c. 1.2 m) built of fieldstones of various sizes placed directly on top of the bedrock was documented but not excavated. The wall, which runs in a northwest–southeast alignment, was built of two rows of stones and was at least two courses high. As the wall lies perpendicular to the slope, it could not be a terrace wall, and served most likely as a dividing wall between plots of land. The wall could not be dated.
C2 is a rock-hewn installation that was probably used for tethering animals (upper opening 0.10–0.15 m, lower part 0.1–0.2 m, depth 0.3 m; Fig. 16), although it may not be man-made.
C3 is a single-step quarry (L301; 1.3 × 3.0 m, max. depth 0.6 m, min. depth 0.3 m; Fig. 17). The location of the quarry for extracting building stones appears to have been chosen for its particularly hard rock.
The trial excavation at Yafi‘a focused on several locations, including one containing a probable Middle Bronze Age rock-hewn winepress, an installation whose date and function is unclear, a quarry, a field wall and a tethering stone for animals, none of which could be dated, as well as a field tower that was most recently used in the nineteenth century. Despite the problematic dating of the finds, the excavation area, together with the finds on the nearby hill (Shatil and Yaroshevich 2019
), appears to have been part of the agricultural and industrial hinterland of the settlement that existed beneath the modern village nucleus of Yafi‘a.