Three excavation areas were opened in the area slated for development and sixteen squares were excavated (Fig. 1). The trial trenches exposed three main sedimentological strata (1–3), slightly inclined toward the northeast (Fig. 2), described below from top to bottom:
1. Dark brown, hard clay alluvium (average thickness c. 1 m) mixed with angular limestone, a few worn potsherds and very few flint artifacts.
2. A light gray layer, rich in flint artifacts. It is 5–40 cm thick in the northwest of the site, next to the southeastern slope of Tel el Wa‘ar; it becomes thinner and completely disappears in the southeastern part of the site. No animal bones, hearths or other installations, which would indicate the finds are in situ, were discovered in this layer.
3. Grayish yellow clay alluvium layer (thickness 3 m), containing limestone and basalt. A level of different size wadi pebbles, along with angular limestone and basalt, is located in the upper part of the layer; depressions in this level were found filled with a concentration of flint artifacts that belonged to Stratum 2. Flint artifacts were also recovered from this stratum, but their frequency was significantly lower as the excavation went deeper into this stratum. It seems that this stratum represents a flood plain of an ancient stream or a terrace of a stream that originated in the Jezre’el Valley region. Future geological examinations, including locating the origin of the basalt in the region of the site, will provide an answer to the question regarding the formation of this stratum.
The excavation finds confirmed the preliminary expectations that the remains belong to the Mousterian culture of the Middle Paleolithic period (250,000–50,000 YBP), which are characterized by the Levallois technique that facilitates the production of flakes, blades and points, whose dimensions and shapes are predetermined by the flint knapper. Although the assemblage included two hand axes (Fig. 3) that are attributed to the Acheulean culture (Lower Paleolithic period), such tools appear, albeit in limited numbers, in the early phases of the Middle Paleolithic period.
A preliminary sorting of c. 70,000 flint items that were recovered from the excavation shows the frequency of the different main items: 3,427 items (4.9%) were defined as tools; 467 (0.7%; Fig. 4) are cores; the proportion of flakes and blades that are not retouched is c. 16%; whereas the proportion of accompanying debitage, that is flint chunks and small chips, as of 2.5 cm is 78%. All the knapping stages are represented in the assemblage, including the preparation of the core and a variety of tools, and it includes a large quantity of small chips (more than 40% of all the flint items), which is a by-product of the flint knapping and retouching of the tools. This high proportion of small chips along with the fairly fresh preservation of the flint shows the knapping of the flint items was done in the immediate vicinity of the site, on the eastern slopes of the Carmel.
Various kinds of flint were utilized in the tool industry. Retouched flakes are quite prevalent in the assemblage, but there are also side scrapers, scrapers knives and points (Fig. 5). Some of the points are broken on their distal end and some of the fragments are indicative of throwing (Shea J. 1988. Journal of Field Archaeology 15:441–450; Villa P. and Soriano S. 2010. Journal of Anthropological Research 66:5–39). This phenomenon shows that at least some of the points were used for weapons, whether for hunting or in encounters with animals or with rival social groups. Some of the points are notched, which suggests they may have been connected to the shaft of a spear.
The finds are insufficient to determine whether the site represents an industry of one population or several populations that visited the site over a prolonged period. In addition, there is no possibility of determining the human species that was active at the site, since during the Middle Paleolithic period, Neanderthal man existed alongside the modern man (homo sapiens) in our region and comparative studies have not revealed any differences between their tool industries, because these two human groups both used the Levallois technique.
A preliminary comparison with the adjacent site of ‘En Qashish shows three differences: at Tel Qashish (West) the quantity of small chips is large, while at ‘En Qashish their numbers are small; the flint is better preserved at ‘En Qashish; and the animal bones are much better preserved at ‘En Qashish than at Tel Qashsih (West), where only four bones were found. The differences probably reflect different post-sedimental processes that occurred in the two sites. A techno-typological study will enable us to locate Tel Qashish (West) in the cultural sequence of the period, and conduct a better based comparison of the flint assemblage from the ‘En Qashish site and other Mousterian sites in the region.