Four areas were opened in Nahal Soreq (A, D, E, F; Fig. 2). Two strata were discovered in Area A: a building dating to the Roman period (first–second centuries CE) in the upper stratum, and fieldstones and refuse pits from the Late PPNB or PPNC, in the lower stratum (Barzilai 2010; Rollefson 1989). In Area D, four cist graves were documented and a limekiln and ash pits from the final phase of the PPNB were excavated. Two squares were excavated in Area E. In Sq F1 a Roman building was excavated in the upper stratum, and a stone installation and a kiln were exposed in the two Late PPNB strata. In Sq H1 foundations of another Roman-period building were excavated, and remains of walls and a stone floor were revealed in three strata from the Late PPNB. Two squares were opened in Area F, but the excavation was suspended once it became clear that mechanical equipment had disturbed the area.
Area A
Architectural remains dating to the Roman period were discovered in the upper stratum (Fig. 3). Six walls (W601–W606) were exposed, some of them had been damaged by mechanical equipment. The walls were preserved to a height of several courses, all the same width (c. 0.6 m). The uniform construction method and the ceramic finds around the walls indicate that they were the remains of one or more dwellings. A fieldstone floor (L102) was exposed in the southeastern room. The pottery assemblage included a late type of knife-pared Herodian lamp, a discus lamp, ledge bowls, jars and bowls of the Tenth Legion, all characteristic of the late first century–late second centuries CE.
In the lower stratum, a stone surface dating to the Late PPNB was uncovered, and on it were denticulated blades characteristic of the period. In this stratum (L101A, L102A; Fig. 4) were three refuse pits: Pit L105A (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.17 m) contained flint and burnt animal bones, and was excavated down to bedrock; pit L107A (diam. 1 m, depth 0.11 m; Fig. 5) contained flint and burnt stones, and was also excavated down to the bedrock; and pit L104A (diam. 0.3 m, depth 0.12 m), which contained burnt stones, a little flint, and intrusive bones and Roman–Byzantine pottery that filtered from higher up. In the southern part of the area, below the stone surface, was a layer of sterile soil (L106A).
Area D
Four cist tombs built of stone slabs (L410–L413; Figs. 6, 7) were discovered, and documented from the outside. Two tombs were well-preserved (L410, L413); their frame was built of six slabs (0.5 × 0.5 m) and four slabs (average size 0.4 × 0.6 m) covered and sealed the rectangular structure. A round stone (0.20 × 0.25 m) stood upright at one end of the southwestern tomb (L410). The southeastern tomb (L411) had been damaged by mechanical equipment and only three of its covering stones were preserved. In the northern part of the excavation area, the top of the four covering stones was exposed for two tombs (L412, L413). The tombs cut through the Neolithic stratum, and through ash pits. Cist tombs were common amongst non-Jewish populations in the Late Roman period and parallels were found at Akhziv (Mazar 1994) and Mishmarot (Masarwa 2007), where similar tombs were dated to the first–third centuries CE.
A stratum of brown soil with flint and stone was dated to the Late PPNB. This stratum was disturbed by the Roman-period burials, and again by mechanical equipment. Remains of an industrial area with a limekiln (L406; diam. 0.78 m, depth 0.57; Fig. 8) were excavated. The bottom of the limekiln was lined with red clay, and it contained burnt stones, burnt bones and flint. Two ash pits (L408, diam. 0.58 m, depth 0.34 m; L409, diam. 0.6 m, depth 0.36 m), containing burnt animal bones and a small quantity of flint, were discovered east of the limekiln. The sides and bottom of Pit L409 were lined with light orange clay. A third ash pit (L407; diam. 0.44 m, depth 0.78 m) was discovered in the southern part of the area. It contained flint, including an ‘Amuq arrowhead, stones and burnt bones. The limekiln and the pits were excavated down to sterile soil. A hearth (L404; diam. 0.5 m) north of the limekiln contained a layer of ash, burnt stones and flint, including a Herzliya-type arrowhead. The flint assemblage in Areas A, D and F included denticulated blades and arrowheads of Herzliya, Byblos and ‘Amuq types, dating to the Late PPNB or Early Pottery Neolithic periods. A similar limekiln and ash pits were discovered in Ashqelon (Garfinkel and Dag 2008:75).
Area E
Square F1. Remains of a square room (c. 4.7 × 5.0 m) dating to the Roman period were discovered. The room was damaged when the infrastructure for the sewage system was installed (Fig. 9). Most of the southern wall of the room (L807; 0.6 × 3.0 m) was destroyed by mechanical equipment. The Roman stratum was largely characterized by light-red soil with stones (L710; Fig. 10), which was identical to the habitation level of the building in Area, and by a brown soil in the northern part (L711); both contained numerous pottery sherds, glass and animal bones. An installation built of fieldstones and large, roughly hewn stones (L723), was excavated in the northern part of the room. Burnt stones and cooking vessels were found at its the bottom. Two Roman-period levels were distinguished inside the installation, and it is possible that the layer of brown soil (L711) and the installation were remains of a renovation phase. The fieldstone floor of the building was not preserved. Below the Roman habitation level was a floor-foundation of gray pebbles with white, fine-grained soil (L729; thickness 0.16 m). The foundation, which was fully excavated, contained pottery similar to that in the Roman habitation level (L710, L711).
Two sub-strata of Late PPNB were discovered in the Neolithic stratum (Figs. 11, 12).
Sub-stratum 2B consisted of fieldstones (L731) and contained a limekiln (L737) and a round installation (L736; 0.42 × 0.76 m); it also contained flint, and bracelets made of red Nubian sandstone imported from Jordan. Inside the round installation, which was built of limestone slabs with a round stone on top of them, was a very small amount of flint items, among them a microlith blade formed by abrupt retouch. The stone slabs of the installation were similar to the pavement in Sq H1 (below). South of the installation, in the kiln (L737; 0.63 × 0.67 m, height 0.53 m) which was damaged during the work on the sewage line, were burnt stones and flint tools, including a bifacial knife. Finds that were discovered in the southern section seem to indicate that the kiln was lined with white plaster and red clay that were not preserved because of the climatic conditions—the trench flooded, and the water saturated the section and parts of the kiln.
Sub-stratum 2A (L735; Fig. 13) consisted of brown soil with small stones and flint. It was not fully excavated.
Square H1. A layer of brown soil was excavated and wall foundations of a building and pottery from the Roman period were discovered (Figs. 14, 15). The wall foundations (W801, 0.73 × 3.57 m; W802, 0.25 × 2.06 m) form the corner of a building or a room. They were constructed of roughly hewn stones and fieldstones, similar to the structure excavated in Sq F1. The foundation trench of W802 was visible in the eastern section; the occupation level and the floor were higher up, and were not preserved (Fig. 16). As in the adjacent area, here too the Roman building was set into PPNB strata, and disturbed the prehistoric sequence.
Three PPNB phases were exposed below the Roman structure. The latest phase (Phase I) was disturbed by W801, which was built into it. Below the wall were plaster remains (L720) and an articulated burial of a 15 years old boy (L721) aligned in an east–west direction. This was a typical Neolithic burial, along the walls. The burial was dug into an earlier occupation level, probably next to a wall (L803, 0.40 × 0.42m; Fig. 17) that was constructed in an early phase (Phase II) and was no longer in use. This was a wall fragment, built of medium-sized fieldstones on a northeast–southwest axis. Although no plaster floor was preserved, the elevation of the floor can be estimated, because another articulated burial, of an adult (L713; Fig. 18), was discovered. The deceased in this burial, as in another one in Stratum II, was laid parallel to an early wall (W804) and below a stone floor of Phase III, which was canceled by Phase II (Fig. 19), the phase in which the deceased lived. The early phase of the Late PPNB (Phase III; Fig. 20) included W804 (0.45 × 2.36 m) whose outside face was built of two rows of medium-sized fieldstones with a fill of soil and small stones. An irregular-shaped stone with drill-marks resembling eyes and nostrils (Fig. 21) was found on the western side of the wall. A floor (L732) of medium and large flagstones, rectangular and square, abutted its eastern side. The paving was similar to that discovered at Mishmar Ha-‘Emeq, where it was dated to the PPNB (Barzilai and Getzov 2010). Shells, a spindle whorl and a fragment of a stone hammer were discovered on the floor. Three flat stones, possibly alluding to an architectural element just north of the excavation area, were found above the pavement. The pavement was not preserved in the southern part of square. The flint finds from this stratum predate those in the other Neolithic strata, and date to an early phase of the Late PPNB, such as at the ‘Atlit-Yam site (Galili, Lernau and Zohar 2004), and to an earlier phase in the PPNB.
Remains of rooms from the Roman period, dated by the ceramic finds to the late first–late second centuries CE, were discovered in the excavations at Moza. The rooms that were excavated, were probably parts of buildings in the settlement Colonia Emmaus, described by Josephus Flavius (Jewish War VII:216–217) as the residence of veterans of the Tenth Legion after the Great Revolt. The Arab village of Colonia, which was built in the vicinity of Tel Moza preserved the ancient name. Settlements and building projects of the Tenth Legion, such as the villa at Tel Moza (Kisilevitz et al. 2014), Bet Neqofa (Be’eri 2015) and the water channel at Abu Ghosh (B. Storchan, pers. comm.), which were discovered in excavations in the area of Moza and Abu Ghosh, corroborate the writings of Josephus. The settlement at Moza was part of the deployment of the Tenth Legion to control the network of roads leading to Jerusalem. It included also planning and construction of the Jewish settlement Orine on the Shu‘fat ridge (Bar-Natan and Sklar-Parnes 2007) and the establishment of the Tenth Legion camp at Binyanei Ha-Uma (Arubas and Goldfus 2005:15–16). Below the Roman occupation, were remains of a settlement from the Late PPNB; occupation area and industrial area with a limekiln and ash pits were discovered.
The proximity to Tel Moza (less than 1 km) taken in conjunction with the absence of strata parallel to those of the Tel, raise the possibility that during this period of climate and economic changes, settlement pattern in the region also changed. The change is apparent in the transition of manufacturing technology. In the PPNB, blades and bladed tools were typically made in bidirectional and naviform technologies; the Late PPNB sees a shift to flake tools, ad hoc tools, denticulated blades and truncates (Khalaily 2006:337–338). The climate change triggered a drop in the water table, and settlement contracted to areas with reliable source of water, such as Nahal Soreq. By the end of the PPNB the site was almost certainly abandoned. The top of the tel was settled again in the Pottery Neolithic A.