A trial excavation was conducted in December 2004 prior to the installation of a drainage line along the northern fence of Qibbuz Ha-Gosherim (Permit No. A-4302; map ref. NIG 25870/79210; OIG 20870/29210). The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, was directed by N. Getzov, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying) and H. Smithline (photography).
Three excavation areas (F1–3) were opened in the southern part of Ha-Gosherim site, next to one of the Dan tributaries that flows through the Qibbuz, and southeast of the extensive excavations, which were conducted there in the past (HA-ESI 110).
Area F1 (2 × 2 m). An accumulation of ancient settlement remains (thickness c. 0.6 m) was below a layer (thickness c. 1.5 m). At the bottom of the accumulation was a floor of small stones, potsherds and animal bones.
Area F2 (2 × 2 m; Figs. 1, 2). A layer and accumulations similar to those in Area F1 were exposed. A pavement of flat stones at the bottom of the accumulation, in the southern part of the square, was founded on travertine bedrock. A tomb was discovered in the northwestern corner of the square. Only the skull, which was lying on its right side and pointing south, was located within the bounds of the excavation. The skull postdated the floor level and judging by the section, it should be ascribed to a later phase of the settlement remains.
Area F3 (3 × 10 m) was located alongside the brook. Several stratified sediments were observed in the section (height c. 2.5 m). At the bottom was a layer of sandy travertine, only its top was exposed (depth 0.8 m). Overlaying it were layers (1.1 m) of wadi deposits, consisting mostly of fine grains and including a few pebbles. Above them was a modern accumulation (0.6 m) of wadi alluvium, basaltic soil, a few boulders and scrap iron. Even if ancient settlement remains had been located here, they were probably washed away by flowing water.
The Finds and the Dating. The settlement accumulations included numerous potsherds, bones, bone implements, stone tools and flint implements. An initial analysis of the finds revealed they were analogous to those from Stratum III, identified in the 1996–1997 excavations and dated to a later phase of the Early Chalcolithic period, which postdated the Wadi Rabah culture and was contemporaneous with Stratum VIII at Jericho. This is the first clean assemblage ascribed to this stratum and it will aid in understanding the cultural continuity at the Ha-Gosherim site.