During June–July 2004 a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat Petora (Permit No. A-4189; map ref. NIG 18215–45/61117–20; OIG 13215–45/11117–20), prior to developing Route 35 where it intersects with Highway 6. This excavation was complementary to the excavations that had been undertaken at the site in 2002–2003. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Cross-Israel Highway Project, was directed by A. Gorzalczany and Y. Baumgarten, with the assistance of V. Nikolsky (area supervision), H. Lavi, Y. Hayyimi and A. Alajem (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), T. Sagiv (photography) and P. Nachshoni, S. Gal, D. Varga and the staff of the Antiquities Authority’s Southern Region.
The identification and ancient name of the site are unknown; Horbat Petora is the modern name. Remains ascribed to the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Early Bronze I and Roman periods were discovered in the earlier excavations at the site (Areas A–F). During the present season, seven squares were opened along the northern fringes of the tell (Area G; Fig. 1). Remains from two periods, the Chalcolithic period (Stratum 4) and Early Bronze Age I (Strata 1–3), were exposed. Several pottery fragments from the Neolithic period were also found. Some of the squares were excavated down to virgin soil (c. 4 m deep) and were devoid of any finds.
Stratum 1. Removing the hard layer that was part of the Mandatory roadbed (Highway 35) revealed several structures that were apparently rectangular and built of indigenous limestone close to surface. All the walls were in an average state of preservation and stood two–three courses high. Some walls were constructed from fieldstones or roughly hewn stones of different sizes. A wall (W10062; width 1 m) in the eastern part of the excavation area was oriented north–south and consisted of two rows of large stones with a core of smaller stones and mud-brick material.
Two walls (W10053, W10106) were uncovered in the western part of the excavation area. Wall 10053 (width 0.6 m) extended in a northeast–southwest direction and formed a corner at its western end with W10106 (width 0.3 m), which was built of one row of stones.
Stratum 2. The most substantial remains in the excavation belonged to this stratum. The remains of an oval building
(4 × 9 m) in the eastern area of the excavation were below W10062. Its walls (W10082, W10018, W10070, W10098) were composed of fieldstones or roughly hewn stones of various sizes (up to 0.9 m long). The meager remains of a curved wall (W10099), discerned north of the building, could have been part of another building that was not preserved.
Remains of a third building (L10100) that was probably rectangular were in the middle of the excavation area. Its walls (W10060, W10097, W10102) were built of roughly hewn stones of different sizes. The building seemed to continue southward, beyond the limits of the excavation. Another wall (W10050; Fig. 2) that abutted W10060 on the north was preserved over a length of 6.7 m.
A building (L10108; width 4 m, length unknown) in the western part of the excavation area had two of its walls preserved (W10046, W10076; Fig. 3). Wall 10046 was curved and built of two rows of roughly hewn stones. Wall 10076, the building’s southern wall, was constructed from two rows of stones (width per row 0.2 m, space between the rows 0.4–0.5 m). A row of stones on the interior side of W10046 may have fallen from the wall, although it seemed to be part of a structure from the earlier stratum. Several floors (L10007, L10022; Fig. 4), overlaid with large quantities of potsherds, flint implements (Fig. 5) animal bones and fragments of wooden beams, were excavated.
A section of a wall (W10019) to the west of Building 10108 was probably curved and part of another building.
South of Building 10108, a double stone wall (W10107; width 0.9 m) oriented northeast–southwest was discovered. It consisted of two rows of stones (width per row 0.15–0.20 m, distance between rows 0.4–0.5 m). Two floors (L10085, L10086) of small flat stones and beaten earth abutted the walls on the east and west.
The finds in this stratum included pottery vessels from Early Bronze Age I, among them jars, holemouth jars, platters, juglets and bowls of various sizes. Numerous fragments of pottery vessels were decorated with white or red-painted stripes, as well as incised or perforated patterns of a wide variety (Fig. 6). A large number of uncarbonized wooden beams in the western part of the area were sealed in the floors in an excellent state of preservation. The beams were rectangular in cross-section and apparently derived from a ceiling that had collapsed. Other special finds included a small furnace for smelting metals, which contained remains of copper and lumps of ochre and bitumen.
Scores of various-sized sickle blades emerged throughout the entire excavation area, as well as flake and blade cores, scrapers, an axe (?) and a considerable amount of debitage, attesting to a developed flint industry.
Stratum 3 included wall sections (W10094, W10095) that were not entirely exposed in the eastern area of the excavation.
Stratum 4 dated to the Chalcolithic period and contained several segments of walls and floors. A mud-brick wall (W10055; width 1 m) aligned east–west and standing one–two courses high was well-preserved on its southern side, whereas the northern side was only partially preserved. The mud-brick sizes were not uniform. South of the wall and possibly related to it were several floors and occupation levels (L10061, L10067). A single row of a stone wall (W10074; width 0.5 m), oriented northeast–southwest, was c. 1 m below W10046 of Stratum 2.
The finds from this stratum included bell-shaped bowls, some of them intact, above Floor 10061 (Fig. 7). Numerous bowls of this type were revealed in the previous excavations at the site. Fragments of churns were recovered from the fill, as well as the pedestal of a basalt chalice decorated with closely incised parallel lines (Fig. 8) and stone items, such as basalt grinding stones and limestone bowls.
66The excavation was limited and did not enable the complete exposure of the buildings. The discovery of Strata from Early Bronze Age I and the Chalcolithic period permitted us to determine the boundaries of the site in the north and to conclude the issue of the settlement’s size and its character. The rich assemblage of finds will contribute to the identification of local typological trends in the pottery and flint tools.