During January 2002 a salvage excavation was conducted in two shaft tombs near Tel Rehov (Permit No. A-3586*; map ref. NIG 24689/70688; OIG 19689/20688), after they were damaged when a ditch was dug by Qibbuz Merav. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and the Tel Rehov Archaeological Expedition of the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University, was directed by A. Golani and A. Kohn-Tavor, with the assistance of Y. Nagar (anthropology), T. Kornfeld and A. Hajian (surveying), Y. Dangor (administration), T. Kornfeld (drafting), M. Lavi and K. Shenkar (conservation of metal objects), Y. Rudman (drawing of finds) and G. Laron (studio photography).
Three adjacent shaft tombs (T1–3), located c. 100 m from the southwestern fringes of Tel Rehov (Fig. 1), were partly damaged by the ditch. The excavation focused on two of the tombs (T1, T2); the third and easternmost tomb was only slightly damaged. The shaft tombs were hewn in friable travertine bedrock and belonged to an extensive burial field that was found next to a shallow gully, south of Tel Rehov. This burial field had partially been excavated in the past by O. Yogev (‘Atiqot (ES) 17 :90–113; HA 51–52:16; 73:13). The shaft tombs were in use from the Intermediate Bronze Age until Middle Bronze Age IIB. Another cemetery, which was first used in the Intermediate Bronze Age, was located north of the tell, in the region of ‘En Ha-Natziv (HA 86: 14-15).
Tomb T1 (Fig. 2). The burial chamber was reached by way of a rectangular shaft (depth 2 m), at the bottom of which the entrance to the burial chamber was hewn and blocked with several large stones (Fig. 3). A similar shaft was discovered in Tomb 7 of O. Yogev’s excavations (‘Atiqot (ES) 17 :93–94). Mixed ceramic finds, including a small stone pendant (Fig. 4), were recovered from the soil fill in the shaft. The shaft opened into the eastern wall of a circular burial chamber (c. 2.50 × 2.75 m) with an arched ceiling (max. height 1.25 m). The chamber was filled with alluvium that contained several mixed fragments of pottery vessels. Some poorly preserved human bones were found on the bedrock floor of the burial chamber. A concentration of c. 1,200 small beads that were probably made of ostrich egg-shell (Fig. 5) was found c. 0.2 m above the floor. Similar beads came from Tomb 8 in Yogev’s excavations (‘Atiqot (ES) 17 :94), dating from the Intermediate Bronze Age until Middle Bronze Age IIB. The removal of bones and the exposure of the burial layer were not completed.
Tomb T2 (Fig. 6). The burial chamber was accessed via an elliptical shaft (depth 1 m) whose floor sloped west, toward the cave’s entrance, which was blocked by a large flat stone. The oval burial chamber (1.75 × 2.50 m) had an arched ceiling (max. height 0.75 m) and was almost devoid of any alluvium. On its floor were bones, well preserved, although not articulated, which were mostly concentrated along the northern wall (Fig. 7). The bones belonged to three adult individuals: a male of 20–35 years of age, a male over 40 years of age and a third individual of similar age and undetermined gender. Two complete bronze daggers were lying alongside the bones (Fig. 8), as well as several non-diagnostic potsherds.