In March 2015, a salvage excavation was conducted at the entrance to Moshav Bet Hilqiya (Permit No. A-7385; map. Ref. 182920/632815; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a water pipeline. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Mekorot Water Company, was directed by E.C.M. van den Brink (consultation and identification of Neolithic and Chalcolithic pottery) and Y. Marmelstein (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), R. Mishayev and R. Liron (surveying and drafting), C. Ben-Ari (GPS/GIS), M. Mullokandov and I. Elad (preliminary inspection and preparation of the excavation area), D. Golan (consultation and identification of Bronze Age pottery), D. Ben-Tor (identification of scarabs), A. Karasik (digital documentation), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), E. Kamaisky (pottery conservation), N. Marom (archaeolzoology), N. Zak (plans), L. Kupershmidt (metalurgy), C. Amit (studio photography) and E. Aljem (aerial photography), as well as A. Giladi, D. Abu Salah and D. Barkan.
The site is situated in the southern coastal plain, on clayey alluvial soil overlaying sandy hamra that slopes northward toward Nahal Timna, c. 1.5 km north of Revadim Quarry. The quarry, located on a rocky hill (71–73 m asl), began operation during the British Mandate period to extract sand for construction, was abandoned, and eventually re-opened in the 1990s. The soil at the edges of the quarry lies on sand and kurkar rock, and is composed of layers of paleosol, including brown-gray quartzite and red hamra-husmas, that contains pottery sherds.
A Lower Paleolithic site was discovered during the renewed quarrying, followed by four excavation seasons, in which great quantities of flint tools and fauna were uncovered (Khalaily et al. 2000 [Fig. 1: A-2498]; Marder, Milevski and Rabinovich 2007 [Fig. 1: A-4191]). In 1990, the remains of structures from the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age IA were excavated at the site (Gudovitch and Pipano 1998 [Fig. 1: A-1711]).
The current excavation comprised 18 half-sized excavation squares (Fig. 2) on either side of the Mekorot water pipeline. The finds were dated to three periods: Pottery Neolithic, Late Chalcolithic and Middle Bronze Age IIA–IIB. A living surface and a fragment of clay fertility figurine were uncovered from the Pottery Neolithic period. Also uncovered were living surfaces containing pottery typical of the Late Chalcolithic period, and nine tombs dating from the MB II. The tombs, which were partially hewn in the kurkar rock, yielded complete pottery vessels along with toddle pins and a dagger typical of the period.
Pottery Neolithic Period
A living surface bearing pottery dating from the Neolithic period was uncovered. Most of the pottery is typical of the Jericho Stratum IX tradition: burnished, red-slipped vessels with a thick painted line discerned on some of the vessels. The vessels exhibited a limited repertoire, mostly of plain forms. The most common type was a medium-size, red-slipped plain bowl; rim fragments of a pot, a simple rim of a holemouth jar and body fragments of a pithos were also found.
A fragment of a figurine of a fertility goddess typical of the Yarmukian culture and made of fired clay was also uncovered (Fig. 3; van den Brink, Marmelstein and Liran 2016). The figurine is a rather realistic depiction of a woman with full breasts and a large, emphasized and exposed belly. Figurines of this type are frequently found in and around the Yarmouk region (Garfinkel 2004). Only three such figurines have been discovered outside of the Yarmouk region: one in Tel Aviv, on Bodenheimer Street (Kaplan 1992); one in Lod (Yannai 2006); and one at Horbat Petora, near Kiryat Gat (Milevski, Baumgarten and Gorzalczany 2014).
Late Chalcolithic Period
Most of the finds that were dated to the Late Chalcolithic period were uncovered directly on virgin soil consisting of a hamra conglomerate with a few fieldstones; the uniform scatter of sherds indicates a living surface. The fabric of the pottery vessels contains small gray and white grits, and the vessels were well fired. They are slipped and feature combed and incised decorations, as well as plastic reliefs. The most common types of vessels are bowls, straight-walled bowls, jars, holemouth jars and pithoi. Numerous animal bones were also unearthed, as well as grinding tools and serrated sickle blades, indicating a combination of agriculture and animal husbandry.
Several remains, such as densely packed, sharply broken stones embedded in light gray sediment, seem to indicate the existence of architecture. Concentrations of stones and fired mud bricks belonged to a circular pit, apparently a refuse pit, which contained flint stones, brick fragments and a great many pottery vessels. Alongside these remains was a semicircular installation built of fired mud bricks (Fig. 4), whose function could not be determined. Near these architectural remains was a shaft hewn in the kurkar rock (Fig. 5). It was full of fine beach sand devoid of finds. Similar shafts, possibly used as wells, have been found, for example, at Yehud, where they were dated to the Late Chalcolithic period (Jakoel 2014; Govrin 2015; Itah et al. 2019). The settlement was abandoned at the end of the Late Chalcolithic period.
Middle Bronze Age
Activity at the site resumed in the Middle Bronze Age, when it served as a burial ground. Nine rounded tombs (T1–T9) were uncovered; they utilized natural depressions in the kurkar rock, some of which were deepened. Tomb 9, which was partially preserved and seemed to extend beyond the boundaries of the excavation, was near Tomb 4 and may have been part of it. The tombs, which contained all together 15 individuals, can be classified into three types of burials: group burials, child burials and single adult burials.
Group burials (T4, T5, T7–T9). Tomb 4 included two burial levels: an infant in a pithos in the upper level (see below) and the burial of a single male adult in the lower level. The adult was found fully articulated in an excellent state of preservation (Fig. 6), and it is evident that he was of high status. Near his left tibia was a bronze dagger. Both its blade (length 17 cm; Fig. 7), which still held the rivets that fastened it to the haft, and its pommel, which was apparently fixed to the end of the haft, were completely preserved; the haft was made of wood and was not preserved. An identical pommel was found at Tel Yehud, where it was dated to the MB II (Arbel 2013). Two jars, a pithos and a bowl, were found in situ near the head of the deceased. Near the western wall of the tomb was a pair of platter bowls. A select piece of meat had been placed on each one, attested to by animal ribs uncovered in situ.
Tomb 5, in which two levels were also discerned, contained two individuals in the upper level; they were found with two animals at their feet, apparently placed there in their entirety. The lower level comprised a hewn niche,which contained animal bones, a jar and a carinated bowl (Fig. 8).
Tombs 7 and 8 were slightly different than the other tombs in this group. They consisted of an entrance, with a rounded recess intentionally cut to hold grave goods, and a burial space at a lower level, where the deceased were laid. In the recess at the entrance to Tomb 7 were a jar, a pithos and jug, along with a deep bowl (Fig. 9); drill marks could be seen in the recess. Three complete jars were found in the recess at the entrance to Tomb 8 (Fig. 10), and a pithos was found resting on its side on the floor of the burial space in this tomb. It seems that the vessels that were laid in the recesses in these tombs served as a kind of barrier between the entrance and the burial space.
Child burials. Two child burials were uncovered (T3, T4 [upper level]). Tomb 3, which was fully hewn, contained the bones of an infantand a juglet that lay beside it, with no additional finds (Fig. 11). The upper level of Tomb 4 contained the bones of an infant inside a pithos in secondary use; the upper part of the pithos had been sliced off (Fig. 12); the deceased was inserted through the new opening this created. Near the leg bones of the infant was an intact juglet, and near the juglet were beads, indicating a necklace that was placed alongside the deceased. Near the pithos was a miniature votive carinated bowl, along with a pair of platter bowls and a juglet with a trefoil rim.
Individual adult burials (T1, T2, T6). This type of burial was found in hewn tombs, somewhat more oval than the rest of the sepulcheres. In each of these was a single, articulated adult individual. The tombs contained jars with a dipper juglet inside them and several additional dipper juglets next to the deceased, as well as deep carinated bowls, platter bowls, two pinched oil lamps and toggle pins.
The excavated finds attest to a settlement that existed during three periods. The living surface dated to the Pottery Neolithic period included pottery sherds typical of the Jericho IX tradition and a fragment of a figurine of a fertility goddess characteristic of the Yarmukian culture. The Late Chalcolithic-period settlement is featured in domestic living surfaces, which got filled with debris that was swept in from the settlement after abandonment. The site remained uninhabited until the Middle Bronze Age II, when it served as a burial ground, only part of which was uncovered during the excavation. Some measure of uniformity can be found in the burial of children and in the grave goods that accompanied them, whereas adults were interred in a variety of ways. The finds indicate that the site began to serve as a burial ground at the end of the MB IIA, but most of the burial activity took place during the MB IIB (
cf. Ganor 2019; Marmelstein, Gorzalczany and Segal 2016). Additional cemeteries dated to the MB IIA were uncovered at nearby Hafez Hayim and Khirbat el-Mukheizen (Velednitzky 2003 [Fig. 1: A-3184]; Yasur-Landau and Guzowska 2005:38–49 [Fig. 1: B-260, B-266]). These cemeteries may have served nearby settlements, such as Khirbat Umm Kalkha (Dagot 2004 [Fig. 1: A-3260]; Govrin, Ben-Ari and Ilan 2012 [Fig. 1: B-310])—an MB IIA settlement with remains comprising two courtyard structures, two pottery workshops and industrial debris.
Brink van den E.C.M., Marmelstein Y. and Liran R. 2016. A Newly Uncovered Cowrie-Eye Female Clay Figurine Fragment from Bet Hilqiya, Northern Negev, Israel. In S. Ganor, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit and M. Mumcuoglu eds. From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Sha'araim: Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel. Jerusalem. Pp. 93–99.
Garfinkel Y. 2004. The Goddess of Sha’ar Hagolan: Excavations at a Neolithic Site in Israel. Jerusalem.
Gudovitch S. and Pipano S. 1998. A Late Chalcolithic Pottery Assemblage from the Revadim Quarry. ‘Atiqot 35:1*–5* (Hebrew; English summary, p. 159).
Govrin Y. 2015. Excavations at Yehud. NGSB Archaeology 3:7–160.
Govrin Y., Ben-Ari N. and Ilan D. 2012. Salvage Excavations at Yesodot (Khirbet Umm El-Kalkha): The Middle and Late Bronze Age Settlement.NGSBA Archaeology 1:9–85.
Itach G., van den Brink E.C.M., Golan D., Zwiebel E.G., Cohen-Weinberger A., Shemer M., Haklai G., Ackermann O., Roskin J., Regev J., Boaretto E. and Turgeman-Yaffe Z. 2019. Late Chalcolithic Remains South of Wienhaus Street in Yehud, Southern Sharon Coastal Plain, Israel. JIPS 49:190–283.
Kaplan J. and Ritter-Kaplan H. Tel Aviv. NEAEHL 4. Pp. 1451–1457.
Khalaily H., Marder O., Rabinovitz R., Nahshoni P., Gewirtzman G. and Porath N. 2000. Revadim Quarry. ESI 20:113*–114*.
Marder O., Milevski Y. and Rabinovich R. 2007. Revadim Quarry. HA-ESI 119.
Marmelstein Y., Gorzalczany A. and Segal O. 2016. Tel el-Hashash (South). HA-ESI 128.
Milevski Y., Baumgarten Y. and Gorzalczany A. 2014. Horvat Petura: A Large Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age Settlement. Qadmoniot 146:66–71 (Hebrew).
Velednitzky N. 2003. Kh. el-Mukheizin. HA-ESI 115:76*–77*.
Yannai E. 2016. ‘Yarmukian’ figurines of the Neolithic period at Lod. In S. Ganor, I. Kreimerman, K. Streit and M. Mumcuoglu eds. From Sha‘ar Hagolan to Shaaraim: Essays in Honor of Prof. Yosef Garfinkel. Jerusalem. Pp. 101–108.
Yasur-Landau A. and Guzowska M. 2005. A Middle Bronze IIA Cemetery at Khirbet Muhayzin. Salvage Excavation Reports 2:38–49.