During November 2005, a survey prior to development was conducted along the section of the road between Tamra and Yasif Junction (Permit No. A-4602; map ref. NIG 2140–60/7490–580; OIG 1640–60/2490–580), on the route where Highway 6 will be paved. The survey, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Cross-Israel Highway Ltd., was directed by Y. Lerer, with the assistance of E. Stern, R. Abu Raya, R. Frankel, Y. Dagan, M. Peilstöcker, N. Getzov (survey), A. Shapiro and L. Barda (GPS), O. Marder (survey and prehistoric consultation), I. Roll and E. Bar’on (advice regarding the route of the Roman road).
An alternative route that would shift the direction of Highway 6 eastward, next to Highway 70, was examined at the request of the planner. The road crosses the ‘Akko Valley from south to north along the foothills of the Lower Galilee. The valley is covered with an alluvial layer and is intensively cultivated. The region was surveyed by Z. Gal and Y. Olami (Map of Shefar‘am , Jerusalem, 2003) and M. Peilstöcker and G. Lehmann (Map of Ahihud).
Twelve sites (the numbers given at the request of the planner are for administrative use) were inspected and within them, forty-one antiquity sites were measured (Fig. 1).
Site 620, Nahal Evlayim
The site, dating to the Neolithic period (c. 10 dunams), was surveyed near to Makhtesh Dolina. Among the lithic artifacts found at Sites 1 and 2 were an axe with transversal blows, a Yarmukian chisel, an elliptical axe, three bifacial tools, an arrowhead fragment, blades, a perforated stone disk and a stone bowl fragment. The site was occupied in the Late Pottery Neolithic period and probably in the Pre-pottery Neolithic B period as well. Sites 3 and 4 are the presumed southern border of the site, based on the flint scatterings. Flint fragments that turned out to be natural were found at Site 5.
A circle of large stones (diam. 3.5 m), probably the base of a watchman’s hut, is located northwest of the Evlayim Junction (Site 6), c. 10 m west of an opening to a natural cave (Site 7).
Site 622, the Roman Road from ‘Akko to Zippori
The planned route for Highway 6 crosses that of the Roman road that led from ‘Akko to Zippori. Sections of the ancient road are used today by local farmers (Sites 8–11). Six mile stones were discovered in the region of Site 23; the earliest are dated to the year 120 CE and the latest is from the reign of Constantine, at the beginning of the fourth century CE. I. Roll suggested that a way station was positioned there, to mark the ninth milestone from ‘Akko (Antiquities of the Western Galilee, 1986, pp. 297–303). A fragment of a milestone without an inscription (diam. 0.5 m, height 0.95 m; Fig. 2) was found alongside the road at Site 9, c. 500 m northwest of Site 23. Flat stones scattered nearby were part of the roadbed that had been damaged in the past when the area was prepared for planting an olive grove.
Site 623, Be’er Tirat Tamra
A saqiye well (Sites 12, 13) that was used until the time of the British Mandate but its foundations were probably ancient (Fig. 3), was recorded. Potsherds dating to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods and the Middle Ages were found in the region (Site 14).
Site 624, Horbat Tirat Tamra
A multi-period site (Sites 15–22; Site 17 was canceled) where pottery that dated to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods and the Middle Ages (Site 19) was found. Three burial caves (Sites 15, 16, 18; Fig. 4), winepresses, quarries and cisterns (Sites 20, 21, 22) were discovered.
Site 625, Dabbat el Khan
Bedrock surfaces with rock-cuttings (Sites 25, 27), a cistern (Site 24) and a hewn cave (Site 26) were documented. The collected potsherds dated to the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods. The installations were probably associated with the nearby Roman road.
Tesserae (Site 28; diam. c. 40 m) found inside a plowed field were probably the remains of an industrial installation that was covered with alluvium.
Site 627, Khirbat Rujm
Remains of a building from the Byzantine period, located inside an olive grove (Site 29).
Potsherds and flint tools, probably from the southern fringes of Horbat ‘Uza (Sites 30–32), were found.
A prehistoric site (Site 33), wherein numerous flint artifacts with a yellowish patina were scattered across an area of c. 80 dunams (c. 10 artifacts per sq m). Most of the artifacts were medium–large in size (> 5 cm) and most of the flint was found in secondary deposition due to erosion. The assemblage included Levallois cores, Levallois points and a few tools. A hand axe, which is an extraordinary find, was discovered. The homogenous assemblage is probably from the Middle Paleolithic period.
Burial caves (Sites 35, 36, 38), a winepress (Site 40) and quarries (Sites 37, 39) were discovered in the low limestone hills north of the ‘Akko Valley. A surveyor’s mark from the Roman period was discerned on a bedrock surface, close to a small winepress (Fig. 5).
Site 631, Horbat ‘Uza
A multi-period site (Site 41) that was excavated in 1991, prior to the widening of Highway 85. Twenty-one settlement layers from the Neolithic until the Mamluk periods were identified (N. Getzov, ESI 13:19–21).
The finds from the current survey join the finds from previous surveys, as well as excavations and historical sources that indicate the ‘Akko Valley was settled continuously from prehistoric times until the modern era. The remains of the Roman road found in the survey lie on the same route of the road that was apparently used before the Roman conquest and later used by Napoleon’s army on his march to Mount Tabor. During the Ottoman period, the road was dubbed Darab el-Hawarna and camel caravans that transported wheat from the granaries of the Huran and northern Gil‘ad to ‘Akko traveled along it (B. Oded. Eretz Israel 10:191–197). To this date, the ‘Akko Valley serves an important and main transportation artery.