From May to August 2003 the third season of excavations was carried out at Moza (A-3889; map ref. NIG 2156/6334; OIG 1656/1334; see HA–ESI 115) in preparation for laying a new route for Highway 1. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Department of Public Works, was directed by H. Khalaily, Z. Greenhut, A. De-Groot, and A. Eirikh-Rose, with the assistance of R. Biton (assistant area supervisor), A. Hajian and O. Dobovski (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), R. Abu Khalaf (administration), Y. Nagar (anthropology), E. Barzilay (geomorphology), N. Ze’evi (pottery and small find drawing), L. Zeiger (prehistoric find drawing) and G. LaDossier (bone tool analysis). Also participating was a team from the Weizmann Institute, headed by S. Weiner (mineralogical examination), E. Boareto (14C), M. Kaufman (kolagen analyses and DNA) and R. Shahak-Gross (micromorphology).
This season’s excavation aimed at reaching down to bedrock in the two sub-areas of Area B, which contained remains from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB) period. Furthermore, two new areas were opened: Area E on the west and Area F on the east side of the site, wherein remains from the Neolithic period until modern times were revealed.
The northern sub-area. Four strata of the PPNB period were excavated. The uppermost stratum belonged to the middle phase and the three others––to the early phase of the period. The remains in the uppermost stratum included two rectangular buildings and thick, high-quality plaster floors that abutted the walls. An infant’s skeleton was found underneath one of the floors. Wall segments, sections of plaster floors and hearths were discovered as well.
The second stratum (from the top) included a circular pit in the northeastern side of the area, which contained the partly articulated skeletal remains of two buffaloes (Fig. 1). A building in the western side of the area had an arched outline and a polished, white-plaster floor, which bore intermittent traces of reddish ocher paint. This stratum also yielded a hearth and a wall, which was possibly a terrace wall, as well as a well-made yellowish plaster floor in the eastern side of the area.
Below the floor of the arched building, in the third stratum (from the top), a rectangular building with brick walls, of which only the foundations were preserved, was uncovered. The thick plaster floors in this building abutted the walls and, at times, covered them. The eastern part of the area in this stratum was a burial ground, wherein several burials, both primary and secondary, were exposed, as well as scattered spots of plaster. Between the burial ground to the east and the plaster floors to the west a cache of 60 flint blades (Fig. 2) was found. The blades appear to have been bundled together within a mat, leather or a wooden box, and hidden beneath the foundations of the rectangular building.
Remains of walls and stone collapse were associated with the lowest stratum, which rested directly upon bedrock. A building was discovered in the eastern part of the area, founded upon bedrock, which functioned as its floor and was covered with a thin layer of plaster.
The southern sub-area. Four strata were excavated in this sub-area, contemporary with the strata in the northern sub-area. Remains of walls and installations were revealed in all four strata.
The uppermost stratum included segments of walls, installations and hearths.
A segmented wall, oriented north–south, belonged to the second stratum (from the top). Three rounded installations in the northeastern side of the area were paved with small stones. It is assumed that two of the installations were used for burning stones and preparing plaster, judging by the severe scorching that the red clay lining underwent and the layer of white ash or lime that accumulated within each of them. The burial of a youth, laid within a plaster matrix, was uncovered between the installations. Remains of walls and sections of plaster floor that abutted the walls, as well as two round stones that were apparently used as pillar bases, were excavated in the eastern part of the area.
The third stratum (from the top) consisted of a thick wall (preserved height 0.6 m) with an estimated opening (width 0.75 m) in its northern side. The wall crossed the excavation area from northwest to southeast and was possibly used as a defensive perimeter wall.
The fourth stratum yielded an imposing, massive arched wall that was possibly part of a rounded building. The hard packed earthen floor of the building contained the burial of an adult individual, lacking a skull.
The three lowest strata in the two sub-areas belonged to the early stage of the PPNB period according to the assemblage of flint tools. The assemblage included arrowheads of the Hilwan type, together with Jericho points, sickle blades and bifacial blades, some of which had transversal blows. A very rich assemblage of obsidian that contained all the components of production, i.e., cores, flakes, blades and tools. In addition, a rich and varied assemblage of animal bones consisted of rodent and fowl bones, as well as bone tools. Among the finds were also a number of figurines, beads from a green stone and bracelets of stone and shell.
This area was opened in the western part of the site, following the excavation of a probe in the 2002 season. Two parallel walls (W600, W601) that may have been terrace walls, oriented east–west, were discovered. Their date is unclear because the fill around them contained mixed ceramic material. To their south was an oval rock-cutting that appears to have been an agricultural installation.
This area was opened on the eastern border of the site, where Nahal Soreq touches upon the spur over which the site is located. In the course of the 2002 season a water spring issuing from a subterranean tunnel in the stone cliff was discovered in this area, as well as remains of walls, plaster and fragments of a ceramic water pipe. A single square, c. 3 m to the north of the spring, was excavated this season. The tunnel, which had a rectangular opening, extended in an east–west direction (length 10.4 m); it slightly curved to the southwest. The tunnel was composed of two sections: in the first section (length 7.3 m, width 1.4 m, height 2.2 m) of the tunnel were identical to those of the opening; in the inner section, the tunnel was reduced in size (length 3.1 m, width 0.9 m, height 0.95 m). On the rock cliff, between the tunnel’s opening and the excavation area, four square niches were lined at the same height and set at fixed intervals. They were used for inserting the beams that supported the roofing of a building, which was constructed from organic materials.
Three architectural phases were recorded in the building near the spring (Fig. 3):
Phase A. Two pools, separated by walls and lined with plaster that consisted of ash mixed with crushed potsherds, were erected. Their dimensions are unknown because they partially lay beyond the limits of the excavation. A plastered channel that conveyed water to one of the pools was found. It was not possible to date the pools, the channel or the wall, since only fills over the walls and within the pools were excavated. These fills contained flint and ceramic finds that washed over from the excavation area and ranged in date from the Neolithic period to modern times.
The northwestern end of a rounded installation was discovered in the southeastern corner of the excavation area; it may have been used for to the production of pottery and for improving the quality of clay. It is feasible that the installation could belong to a later stage.
Phase B. An adjacent wall was added to the complex of walls from Phase A in the northern side of the excavation area. The northern side of this wall was plastered and it served as the southern wall of a pool that utilized the unplastered bedrock as its floor. The dimensions of the pool can not be determined because of its location beyond the limits of the excavation. This phase cannot be dated as it included no sealed contexts.
Phase C. A bedding of small stones that was laid over the tops of the walls, filled and blocked the pool of Phase B. Above this bedding, as well as above one of the walls, a plaster floor that was inclined from east to west was laid adjacent to the rock cliff on the west. A channel dug into the floor, where it laid in close proximity to the rock, extended from south to north; it held a clay water pipe that was partly preserved on its southern side. In all likelihood, the water pipe conveyed water from the spring northward.