During June 2011, a small trial excavation was conducted in a privately-owned building plot in the center of Kfar Kanna (Permit No. A-6164; map ref. 231840/739055), in the wake of discovering archaeological remains in mechanically-dug trial trenches. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Alexandre (surveying and field photography), with the assistance of H. 'Ez el-Din (administration).
The c. 50 sq m excavation was carried out just west of the main road, in a building plot that was until recently part of a pomegranate orchard. The many salvage excavations carried out in the bounds of the present-day Kafr Kanna over the past twenty years have clarified that three main locations within the village were settled in different periods, all having access to the village spring. Thus, in the Chalcolithic period and the Early and Middle Bronze Ages, the village was located in close proximity to the spring; in the Iron, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Early Byzantine periods, the low hill of Karm er-Ras at the western edge of the present-day village was settled; and in the Byzantine period, the nucleus area of the present-day village was first settled and this area has remained the heart of the village until modern times.
The present excavation was located in between these three locations, close to the wadi that channeled the overflow waters from the spring northwest to Nah
’el in the Bet Netofa plain. A previous small-scale excavation (HA-ESI 121
), located 20 m west of the present excavation, exposed remains of a road segment dating to the Roman and Mamluk periods, whose direction indicated that it probably led from the Karm er-Ras settlement to the spring. The finds in the present excavation were minor and consisted of an undefined small stone surface, possibly of Roman date, and a row of stones, possibly of Mamluk date. It is quite probable that the road itself continued just to the south of the excavated area and was therefore not uncovered in the excavation.
Two squares were opened in the excavation area; these were dug to a depth of c. 2 m below the surface, the upper meter being removed by a backhoe. The bedrock was not reached, although it may have been fairly close. The excavated earth was visibly alluvial deposits, presumably from the overflow of the spring waters, and indeed, until recently, the pomegranate orchard was still irrigated by manual channeling from tree to tree. At a depth of c. 1.5 m below surface, a packed surface strip of very small stones was uncovered (length 11 m, width 1.1 m; Figs. 1, 2). It was evident that the stone surface continued northward, southward and westward beyond the excavation limits, while the eastern edge was visible in the excavated area as a fairly straight line, bordered by the alluvial soil. In the packed stone surface were many tiny sherds, dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The surface was at a similar elevation to the road, discovered in the adjacent earlier excavation, and it may possibly have been an associated living surface.
A flimsy row of medium-sized stones was found c. 0.3 m higher than the Roman–Byzantine packed surface, with no associated floor or living surface (Fig. 3). Some Mamluk-period potsherds of a glazed bowl and a hand-painted jug that were found between the stones, permit dating this row to the Mamluk period. It may have been part of an agricultural field marker.
The limited finds in the excavation reflect activity at the site during the Roman–Byzantine and Mamluk periods.