In March 2016, a trial excavation was conducted at Gat Rimmon (Permit No. A-7677; map ref. 188146-264/663747-811; Fig. 1), prior to development. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Dunietz Brothers Company, was directed by A. Yaroshevich, with the assistance of E. Bachar and Y. Amrani (administration), G. Itach and A. ʽAzab (IAA Southern Region), H. Ben Ari and A. Dagot (GPS).
In the first publication (Bar-Yosef 1970
), which was based on the tool assemblage and the lunate-shaped microliths collected on the hilltop, the site was dated to the Natufian culture. In a limited excavation conducted on the southwestern slopes of the hill in 2011, a rich flint assemblage was gathered that was characterized by an exceptional number of non-geometric microliths (Yaroshevich 2013
; see also Yaroshevich et al. 2016
). Because of this finding, it was possible to determine that the hill was also settled during the beginning of the Epipaleolithic period. The flint artifacts appeared in a medium-high concentration and most of them were found in the upper part of an orange-hamra
sandy sediment and beneath a layer of yellow sand. The stratigraphic structure observed in 2011 is important in understanding the phenomenon uncovered during the current excavation.
The trial trenches dug at the site revealed that construction debris was buried in the area and that sand was stolen, thus raising a concern that the ancient remains had been destroyed. The trial excavation was carried out because of the flint elements characteristic of the Epipaleolithic and Middle Paleolithic periods found in several of the trenches in the area.
Three squares (A–C; 2 × 2 m; Figs. 2–4) were opened—in the western, northeastern and southeastern sections of the area. Knapped flint items were found, including seven flakes, two bladelets, core trimming elements and two non-geometric microliths characteristic of the Kebaran culture: an arched backed bladelet and a truncated bladelet (Fig. 5). The hilltop was briefly surveyed during the excavation, and a medium concentration of flint items was observed, including trapezoidal/rectangular microliths characteristic of the Geometric Kebaran culture—the middle phase of the period, as well as debitage such as cores, bladelets, flakes and micro-burins (Figs. 6, 7). These flint artifacts indicate that remains from the Epipaleolithic site are still on the hilltop despite the development work and the construction of water reservoirs.
Flint elements characteristic of the early phase of the Epipaleolithic period were found. The construction debris and the absence of a layer of sand, as well as the paucity of flint artifacts that were found, were the result of the destruction of the southeastern part of the site in recent years. An exceptionally large number of flint items on the hilltop and its western slopes also attest to this.