Approximately three quarters of the area of the cave (25 sq m; Fig. 2) were exposed; its ceiling collapsed. Its entrance could not be identified, as it was probably set in the western wall, which was not exposed, or through a vertical shaft that led to the cave from above. Three smoothed bedrock surfaces were noted in the cave. A cupmark (diam. 0.3 m) and a round pit (L4; diam. 1.5 m) that was excavated to a depth of 2 m without reaching its floor were hewn on the upper level (16 sq m, 253.78 m asl). Most of the potsherds and flint tools (see below) were found in the fill inside the pit. Two niches (L9, L10) were hewn in the walls of the cave at this level. No hewn features were identified in the intermediate level (4 sq m, 253.15 m asl), a broad ledge connecting the upper and lower levels. Two round pits with adjacent openings (L7, L8; diam. 1 m and 0.5 m respectively), which were not excavated to their full depth, were hewn in the lowest bedrock surface (5 sq m, 252.7 m asl). Between the pits, at a depth of 0.5 m below the surface, was a hewn passageway (height 0.4 m, width 0.7 m).
The Pottery Assemblage
Edwin C.M. van den Brink
The ceramic assemblage comprised 72 items culled from a total of 28 baskets deriving from ten separate loci within the cave. Fifty six items were found in the fill in Pit 4 (13 baskets). Except for three items (not illustrated)—intrusive or residual potsherds dating to the Late Chalcolithic period—the assemblage as a whole is very homogeneous and can be attributed to an early phase within the Early Bronze Age I.
Open Vessels. These include flat-based, thin-walled bowls with straight or incurved rim. Some show soot stains on the rim and/or the inside of the bowl, indicating their likely function as lamps (Fig. 3:1, 2). The assemblage further includes thin-walled deep bowls or basins with indented rims, a characteristic decoration mode of both open and closed pottery vessels attributed to the early phase of EB I. The illustrated specimen belonging to this type (Fig. 3:3) was made of a gritty fabric, and its exterior is covered with soot stains, indicating its likely function as a cooking vessel. Several diagnostic fragments of Grey Burnished Ware bowls were recovered from the cave (Fig. 3:4–6). Only one fragment preserved the rim and the wall down to just below the carination (Fig. 3:4). None of the fragments show knob-like or other appendages. All the Grey Burnished Ware sherds are covered with a grey, horizontally burnished slip, applied inside and outside.
Closed vessels. A few diagnostic holemouth fragments were found (Fig. 3:7, 8). All are thin-walled and have indented rims. The fragment illustrated in Fig. 3:8 has dense soot stains all over its exterior, indicating its likely function as a cooking pot. Necked jars are medium-sized, with slightly convex necks and tapering rims (Fig. 3:9, 10). They are thin-walled, well-fired and have a plain exterior surface, lacking any wash, slip or paint. One loop handle (not illustrated) probably belongs to this class of jars. The assemblage further includes large, thick-walled, short- and tall-necked jars and pithoi with indented rims, occasionally also with a continuous indented band of clay applied around the jar’s shoulder (Fig. 3:11–14). Some are tall-necked, slightly convex, straight or flaring outwards (Fig. 3:11, 12), while others are short-necked (Fig. 3:13) with everted rims; an additional, indented band of clay could be applied around the shoulder of the larger jars (Fig. 3:14). Only in one instance traces of a red paint or slip were noticed on the exterior surface of a large jar, and only two decorated sherds, both of jars, were of the so-called “pajama style”, with vertical, parallel lines painted directly on the jars’ exterior (Fig. 3:15, 16). With the exception of the loop handle, all handles found in the cave are indented ledge handles, originally applied to large basins or jars (Fig. 3:17, 18).
Except for three potsherds, the assemblage can be attributed to an early phase of the Early Bronze Age I. In view of its limited size of the assemblage and its obvious domestic nature, one might entertain the hypothesis that it comprises waste from a single household. The various items making up the pottery assemblage have good parallels in some of the larger early EB I assemblages uncovered in nearby caves and open-air settlement sites (van den Brink 2007a; van den Brink 2007b; van den Brink and Kanias 2010). Although several Grey Burnished Ware bowl fragments were found in the cave, they are hardly found in any of the nearby early EB I excavated sites referred to above. The near-complete absence of Grey Burnished Ware in several large, horizontal exposures of sites exhibiting what may be considered the earliest EB I deposits in the Modi’in area, seems to indicate that this ware was not introduced in the initial phase(s) of early EB I, but only slightly later on.
Seven tools and several flakes were found in the cave. Six of the tools were discovered in Pit 4, and one in Niche 9. Despite the almost complete absence of knapping debitage at the site, it is apparent that the tools were made from flakes. The length of the shortest complete item is greater than 7 cm. The tool assemblage from the cave consists of two fan scrapers on tabular flint (Fig. 4); a long Canaanean blade that was slightly broken at its distal end (length greater than 15 cm; Fig. 5:1), a common type in EB flint assemblages (Golden 2009
:212); and four sickle blades (Fig. 5:2–5) with bifacial sickle sheen along one of the edges. The material, typology and technology of the sickle blades are uniform. All of the tools were produced from non-indigenous, fine quality brown flint. Tool assemblages containing fan scrapers on tabular flint and sickle blades that were meticulously knapped from especially high-quality flint are characteristic of EB flint assemblages in the region (Ben-Tor 1975
: 24, Pl. 21:4; Amiran et al. 1978
: Pl. 82:1, 4; Crowfoot-Payne 1983
; Peterson 2002
: Fig. 2:12). The virtual non-existence of knapping debitage at the site and the absence of local sources for such high-quality flint, as evidenced by our field observations, indicate that the inhabitants of the EB IA site maintained trade relations with distant settlements, perhaps as far away as Egypt (Golden 2009
According to the pottery and flint artifacts from the pits, the use of the cave can be dated to the beginning of the EB I; that is, the transition period from the Chalcolithic period to the Early Bronze Age (3700–3500 BCE). The potsherds and flint tools signify the domestic use of one well-to-do nuclear family, which may have maintained extensive trade connections with remote settlements.