During June 2010, a trial excavation was conducted at Giv‘at Makosh in Karmi’el (Permit No. A-5933; map ref. 226889–7046/756151–262), prior to the construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and at the initiative of the Karmi’el municipality, was directed by E. Stern, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), M. Kunin (surveying), N. Getzov (pottery reading) and laborers from Iksal.
The excavation was carried out along the southeastern slopes of Giv‘at Makosh, which overlooks Nahal Hilazon in the southern part of Karmi’el (Fig. 1). Giv‘at Makosh is a rocky hill, mostly composed of hard limestone. A dolmen and several circular structures (diam. 3 m) were identified in a survey, conducted in the region by R. Frankel in the 1970s. Some of the structures were excavated west of the current excavation area (ESI 4:63).
A circular stone structure that was probably a watchman’s hut and a double dolmen were exposed in the current excavation.
Three excavation squares were opened (Fig. 2).
Square 1 (10 m south of Square 2; not marked on Fig. 2). A probe was excavated in a terrace wall and a rectangular cairn. The excavation of the cairn revealed that this was a stone clearance heap. A few potsherds from the Roman period were found in the cairn and the terrace probe. These included body fragments of jars and cooking vessels that cannot provide a more specific dating within the Roman period. The terrace wall (Fig. 3) was built of two rows of coarsely dressed, medium-sized fieldstones and a core of smaller fieldstones.
Square 2. Remains of a circular structure (diam. 2.5 m; Figs. 4, 5), which was built of coarsely hewn triangular-shaped fieldstones, arranged alongside each other to form an outer circle, were excavated. The inside of the structure was filled with small fieldstones. The structure was preserved two courses high (elevation 287.2 m above sea level; hereafter asl), but stone collapse around it indicates the existence of a third course of stonework. The natural bedrock served as the structure’s foundation (elevation 286.4 m asl). A few potsherds that dated to the Roman period were found while cleaning the nearby surface and in a probe excavated inside the structure. It seems that the structure was a stone-built base of a watchman’s hut, which was constructed from perishable materials.
Square 3. Remains of a dolmen were excavated. It was built of natural stone slabs (average length 2.5 m, average width 1 m, average thickness 0.4 m; Fig. 6) that were selected specifically for the construction of the dolmen and set in place on natural bedrock (elevation 284.4 m asl). The dolmen consisted of a cell, closed on three sides and open toward the east; it was covered with two other stone slabs, one of which was discovered broken. The roof slabs were removed in the excavation, and the area around the dolmen and the inner cell was excavated. The latter was blocked to mid-height with soil that contained very few potsherds, mostly from the Roman period. The alluvium above the floor of the cell was sifted and yielded a scant amount of potsherds from the Roman period and a fragment of a single vessel, which is probably an jar or teapot imported from Syria (not illustrated), dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age. A petrographic section of the fragment was analyzed by A. Shapiro, who compared it to complete vessels from Syria, whose identification is certain, and discerned a clear petrographic likeness.
The floor of the cell (elevation 284.5 m asl) consisted of natural stone slabs that were founded atop the virgin bedrock. Soil fill containing a few Roman-period potsherds was excavated east of the cell; it was identical to the soil found inside the cell.
Another dolmen cell was discovered north of the first dolmen; the two cells shared a common wall (Figs. 7, 8). Remains of the collapse that covered the second cell indicate that it was built of smaller stone slabs and also covered with a single stone slab that broke and fell inside it. This dolmen cell was open to the west and east. Its floor consisted of stone slabs that were placed on top of the natural bedrock (elevation 284.4 m asl). The soil fill contained a few potsherds from the Roman period.
The circular structures discovered on Giv‘at Makosh were probably bases of watchman’s huts, which are indicative of agricultural activity, probably vineyards. The meager amount of recovered worn potsherds shows that the area was cultivated in the Roman period. The potsherds in this period were utilized in terraces and in agricultural areas for the purpose of enriching and improving the soil (‘Atiqot 48:102).
It seems that the soil fill removed from the dolmen cells in the excavation is alluvium that filled the structure after its construction. The sole potsherd from the Intermediate Bronze Age that was found on the floor of the dolmen may indicate the date of its construction, when it was used as a burial structure. The dolmen was built above ground and stood prominently in the area. It was cleaned and plundered in later periods and filled up with natural alluvium, which contained a few potsherds from the Roman period.