In December 2013, a salvage excavation was conducted along the shoulder of Highway 443, near Mizpe Modi‘in (Permit No. A-6977; map ref. 196100–200/650900–50; Fig. 1), after A. Danziger identified damage to antiquities in the course of routine inspection of development work. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by P. Spivak, with the assistance of Y. Amrani (administration), A. Peretz (field photography), M. Kunin (drafting), C. Ben-Ari (GPS) and M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing).
Three natural caves (F1–F3; depth c. 2 m, width 3–4 m; Figs. 2–4), which were damaged by mechanical equipment in the course of the development work were documented. Conditions did not permit excavation in the caves, but the sections that were exposed were cleaned.
All three caves had a shaft-like entrance from the top, which sloped from east to west, and there may have been other entrances.
Cave F2 was used for burial. Remains of two adults and a child, with their heads facing south (L3) were found. The bones and teeth were well-preserved, and the age and sex of the deceased could be determined (see Eshed below). The bodies were interred next to the cave’s western wall, and funerary offerings were placed near their heads. These included a small complete juglet (Fig. 5:2).
The pottery in the cave was dated to the end of the Chalcolithic period and included a bowl (Fig. 5:1), a small intact juglet (Fig. 5:2) and ledge handles (Fig. 5:3, 4).
The bones of three individuals were exposed while cleaning the section of Cave F2: robust postcranial bones of an adult over 19 years of age; very delicate postcranial bones of an adult female, also over 19 years old; postcranial and cranial bones and teeth of a child, lying in a north–south orientation, with its head to the south. The age of the child, was determined according to the development stage of the teeth as 5–6 years of age.
Cave F2, in which the burial was found, seems to be the only cave that was cut by the mechanical equipment along its center. Presumably the other two were also used for burial. The caves are a few meters apart, face in approximately the same direction, and are almost identical in size. In all likelihood more than three individuals were interred in each. In the Chalcolithic period there was a preference for group burials of extended families rather than for small tombs containing only the nuclear family. No funerary offerings such as jewelry or copper artefacts were discovered, only pottery vessels. However, the limited scope of the excavation makes it impossible to assess the social status of the deceased.
To date no graves or settlements from the Chalcolithic period have been found in the vicinity of the excavation area. The closest remains were documented in the area of Shoham (van den Brink 2005) and in the Buchman neighborhood in southwest Modi‘in (van den Brink 2007).