Six areas (A–F; Fig. 1) were opened: Areas A and B, c. 200 m north of the junction and east of the approach road to the moshav; Area C, south of them; Area D, along the northern side of the junction, at the eastern edge of Horbat Nisanit; Area E, south of the junction; and Area F, c. 100 m southwest of the junction, in the woods at the top of the hill. Archaeological finds were discovered only in Area F (4 × 204 m; Figs. 1–3), within and near a the remains osf a natural cave in the soft chalk bedrock.
The cave remains, whose ceiling collapsed, comprise boulders with colluvial soil filling the gaps between. Intact, in-situ pottery vessels dating to the Late Bronze Age II and the Iron Age I were found in three places between the large, collapsed boulders (L5, L9, L13). The vessel clusters seem to be funerary offerings, indicating that the cave was used for burial; Cluster 9 seems to postdate the collapse of the cave’s ceiling.
Cluster 5 wasfound in an accumulation of brown soil and limestone fragments within a cavity between two boulders. Two identical jars, were set c. 0.8 m apart from each other inside natural hollows in the bedrock (Figs. 4, 5); the western jar was found embedded in earth and was supported by a row of fieldstones set against the bedrock wall to its north. Beneath the eastern jar (Fig. 6:1) was an intact LB II juglet (Fig. 6:2), which bore remains of diagonal reddish-brown decorative stripes. A white-slipped milk bowl (Fig. 6:3) and a knife-pared juglet (Fig. 6:4), both evidently imported from Cyprus, were discovered in the soil accumulated around the jars. Similar vessels were found in tombs at Megiddo and date to the end of the Late Bronze Age (fifteenth–thirteenth centuries BCE). A small copper alloy bracelet (Fig. 7) of a type that appears from the beginning of the Bronze Age was found in the soil accumulation east of the jars. Judging by the vessels’ location, we can reconstruct one definite burial in southwestern part of the cave.
Cluster 9 was in a cavity between large boulders filled with alluvium and limestone, above a bedrock surface (Fig. 8). A trefoil jug (Fig. 9:1) dating to the Iron Age I was found leaning on a wall built of medium-sized fieldstones, apparently the wall of a tomb that was constructed on a partially hewn boulder that had fallen into the cave after it collapsed. A fragment of a zoomorphic vessel in the shape of a horned animal and made of light brown clay (Fig. 9:4) was found in the brown soil accumulation that covered the tomb.
Cluster 13 was found in a small niche (width 0.3 m, height 0.25 m, depth c. 0.3 m) hewn in the southern wall of the bedrock; chisel marks were apparent, especially around its opening. Within the niche were two vessels, placed one next to the other: a small carinated bowl (Fig. 9:2) and a spherical juglet with three horizontal handles protruding on its shoulder and a prominent ridge at the base of the neck (Fig. 9:3). The design of this juglet is unique, as it is probably a local imitation of Mycenaean vessels, the likes of which were found in LB II tombs at Megiddo.
A treading floor (L7; length 1.4 m, depth c. 0.1 m; Fig. 10) was hewn in a large bedrock outcrop above the remains of the cave. Treading floors and winepresses hewn in bedrock outcrops above caves were previously documented along the slopes of the hill (Raban 1999
:82*, Site 141).
Raban’s survey of the hill yielded no pottery dating to the Late Bronze Age. This he explained in the decline in settlement in the region between the hills and Ramat Menashe during this period (Raban 1999
:19*–20*). The results of the current excavation are the first evidence that the hill was used for interment during the Late Bronze Age. It may be assumed that the cave was used by the inhabitants of nearby Megiddo, who buried their dead on the eastern slopes of the tell but probably spread over toward the hill.