During March–April 2008, a trial excavation was conducted at Horbat Tevet (Permit No. A-5383; map ref. 231420–735/727166–251), after ancient remains were exposed along the scheduled route of a natural gas line. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Natural Gas Line Company, Ltd., was directed by F. Abu Zedan (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), R. Mishayev and T. Meltsen (surveying and drafting), A. Shapiro (GPS), K. Covello-Paran (pottery reading), Y. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), L. Porat (pottery restoration), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), O. Shamir (textiles) and laborers from Umm el-Fahm and Yafi‘a.
The site is located c. 100 m north of the ‘Afula ‘Illit industrial region and extends across an area of c. 10 dunams along the northern bank of Nahal Tevet. The site was first surveyed by N. Tzori, who identified farming terraces and a concentration of potsherds dating from Early Bronze Age I until the Early Islamic period (Tzori 1977:55). A square building, a well and concentration of potsherds from Early Bronze Age I until the Ottoman period were identified in a more recent survey (Gal 1998:66, Site 4).
Three areas (A–C; each 50 sq m; Fig. 1) that were positioned along the northern edges of the three antiquities concentrations identified in trial trenches were excavated. A tomb dating to Iron Age I was discovered in Area A and two sections of an enclosure wall from the Roman period were exposed in Areas B and C.
Area A. A rectangular tomb (L27; 0.7×2.0 m; Fig. 2) hewn in basalt bedrock was exposed; the upper part of the tomb was lined with slabs of limestone fieldstones. A skeleton was found in-situ and the excavation of the tomb was suspended. Funerary offerings were exposed above the skeleton, including a chalice (Figs. 3:1, 4) and a jar (Figs. 3:3, 5), both of which date to Iron Age I. Small bones were found in the jar, which was presumably used for the interment of an infant.
Area B. A wall (W20; length 10 m, width 0.5–0.7 m; Fig. 6) preserved a single course high was exposed. Aligned east–west, it was built of large limestone fieldstones. It is important to note that the wall was not straight and probably shifted as a result of geological activity. Potsherds dating to the Roman period were found in a probe excavated alongside the wall, among them a fragment of a cooking pot (Fig. 3:4) and a fragment of a basalt bowl (Fig. 3:5). Three concentrations of fieldstones were found south of the wall. Only the eastern concentration (L24) was partially excavated; bones and a pair of bronze earrings/bracelets were found in it (Fig. 7). Based on the finds, it can be assumed that the eastern concentration of stones, and possibly the other two as well, are tombs.
Area C. An enclosure wall (W25; length c. 9 m, width 0.5–0.7 m; Fig. 8), built of fieldstones and founded on top of the basalt bedrock, was discovered. This was probably the continuation of W20 in Area B.
While closely overseeing the digging of a trench for the gas line, a chalice (Fig. 3:2) and a pair of bronze ingots (Fig. 9) were found. A piece of linen textile survived on one of the ingots (see fabric remains, below).
On the basis of the finds, it can be postulated that the excavated area was beyond the residential region of the Horbat Tevet antiquities site and was probably used as a burial ground in Iron Age I. In the Roman period the region was delimited by an enclosure wall. The walls exposed in the two excavation areas were oriented along the same axis and might be one wall that was built in the Roman period and delineated cultivation plots.
Textile Remains on a Bronze Ingot
Several remnants of textile fragments that adhered to an ingot were analyzed (IAA No. 2011-9004; Fig. 10). Green stains on the pieces are due to the copper’s corrosion, which preserved the remnants.
The biggest fragment is 0.5 ´ 1.0 cm. The samples are undyed S-spun (anti-clockwise) white linen, possibly bleached. The fragments were woven in a medium-density plain-weave technique (14 threads per cm for both warp and weft) and the threads were of uneven thickness.
The site, in the northern part of Israel, has remains from the Iron Age. Linen finds from the north of the country are rarely encountered (Shimony and Shamir 1994:98). The Bet She’an region is known to have been a center for linen production. Archaeological discoveries give further evidence of linen production in the region, such as a thirteenth century BCE linen textile fragment from Bet She’an (Shamir 2009). A spindle with linen threads still wrapped around it was revealed in the tenth century BCE stratum at Tell el-Hama (Cahill, Lipton and Tarler 1988; Cahill,Tarler and Lipovich 1989:36; Shamir 1996:142).
S-spun linen threads are known to have been present in the Land of Israel 10,000 years ago, based on findings attached to a comb in the Murabba‘at cave (Schick 1995) and they are common in Israel until the Medieval period.
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