During July 2000 a trial excavation was conducted alongside the road between Zikhron Ya‘aqov and Wadi Milkh (Permit No. A-3251*; map ref. NIG 1968/7200; OIG 1468/2200), prior to widening the road. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the Public Works Department, was directed by R. Kletter, with the assistance of Y. Dangor (administration), Z. Gil and E. Oren (area supervision), V. Pirsky, A. Hajian and R. Graff (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography) and H. Tsion-Cinamon (GPS system), as well as N. Getzov, E. Yannai and E.C. van den Brink (pottery) and Z. Tsuk (water installations).
Two excavation areas (A, B; Fig. 1) were opened on the eastward-facing slope of the Zamarin spur, west of the road. A modern channel and pottery fragments from different periods were discovered in Area A. An Ottoman water channel, farming terraces and segments of walls from the Roman or Byzantine periods were exposed in Area B. Surface remains visible on top of the spur, including a fortress, road, winepress, walls, farming terraces and rock-cuttings, were documented. The major discovery of the excavation was an Early Chalcolithic site.
Three squares were opened on a terrace along a steep slope. The terrace was created due to the construction of an open drainage channel (more than 2 m wide) by the Carmel Winery, which contained finds from the twentieth century. Around and inside the channel were pottery fragments, not in situ, some dating to the Early Chalcolithic, Middle Bronze Age II and the Persian and Hellenistic periods, although the majority dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods. Some of the early ceramic finds came probably from the vicinity of the fortress, which was located on a hilltop above Area A.
Area B (Figs. 2, 3)
Nine squares were opened on a gentle slope (a total area of 170 sq m), c. 30 m southwest of Area A. Remains of the winery’s drainage channel and other modern disturbances had damaged the ancient remains.
Water System. A water channel, extending in a general northeast-southwest direction, in accordance with the contour of the wadi through which the road passes, was discovered. The excavated segment of the channel was aligned east–west. Its western end was covered with flat stone slabs that were preserved for a distance of 1.8 m. This segment (width 0.85 m) was connected to a wider channel (L205; length 8.5 m, width 1.0 m; Fig. 4) that turned in an easterly direction. Channel L205 was covered with a vault that was not preserved, although it is noted by the inward slant of the channel’s walls (Fig. 2: Section 1-1). Its floor was a white plaster layer overlain with a small stone layer and an accumulation of clayey soil that was probably deposited by the water. A probe beneath the channel’s floor (L207) revealed a gray soil fill, which contained fragments of pottery vessels, mainly from the Early Chalcolithic period. The walls of the channel (W1, W2) were built of an inner row of small, carefully dressed limestone blocks coated with a whitish-colored plaster and an exterior row of fieldstones. The walls’ foundations were constructed from large, coarsely dressed stones. This section of the channel ended in a bend to the northeast, the channel opening into L210 (Fig. 5) and W1 turned south at a right angle. In the passage from L205 to L210 a floor of flat stones that sloped to the northeast was discovered. It appears that the water may have flowed from the channel into a pool. The continuation of the channel to the north was not preserved. Based on the construction technique and the ceramic finds inside the channel, it should be dated to the end of the Ottoman period (one hundred years ago). The flow of water from the springs in the wadi did not justify such a wide channel and therefore, this channel was probably not an aqueduct. In all likelihood, the water from the springs was conveyed via this system to a trough, on the other side of the wadi that served for watering herds until the beginning of the twentieth century (S. Dagan 1988, From Zamarin to Zikhron Ya‘aqov:125, 131 [Hebrew]).
Farming Terraces. Two farming terraces (W3 [not in plan], W4) built of a single course of fieldstones were discovered. Masonry stones in secondary use were incorporated in W4.
Walls. Walls (W5–W7) that predated Terrace 4 were discerned. They were built directly on bedrock and consisted of soft carefully dressed limestone (0.22 × 0.40 × 0.60 m). Walls 6 and 7, which formed a corner and were preserved a single course high, were severely damaged by the winery’s drainage channel. Floors relating to these walls were not found and the ceramic finds around them were miscellaneous. The plaster coating one of the stones in W6 included fragments of ribbed potsherds, which indicate that the walls were probably built in either the Roman or the Byzantine period.
The Zamarin Spur
Most of the Zamarin spur is exposed bedrock, higher than the excavation area and devoid of any archaeological remains. The following features were documented (Fig. 1):
Fortress (map ref. NIG 19689/72010; OIG 14689/22010; Fig. 6). The northeastern corner of a fortress and another section of its northern wall slightly to the west were discerned on a small hilltop, overlooking Area A. The walls were built of very large fieldstones. Surface pottery fragments were dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods. The fortress has a commanding view of the mouth of Wadi Milkh, Fureidis village and the Me’ir- Shefeya spur, as well as direct control over the ‘Ein el-Qusub spring in the wadi, at the foot of the fortress.
Paved Road (map ref. NIG 19665–73/72006–8; OIG 14665–73/22006–8). A road paved with small stones, whose curbs consist of large and medium stones, was visible at the top of the Zamarin spur. The features of the road indicate that it was apparently paved during the Ottoman period or at the beginning of the twentieth century and may have accessed the spring. Another road for wagons was paved by the first Jewish settlers in Zikhron Ya’aqov to reach the settlement (A. Samsonov 1943, Zikhron Ya‘aqov: 67, 68, 100 [Hebrew]).
Winepress (map ref. NIG 19668/72002; OIG 14668/22002). A large winepress was recorded. It comprised a treading surface and collecting vats and probably dated to the Byzantine period, on account of its components.
Other documented remains included lines of walls, farming terraces, rock cuttings and possibly rock-cut tombs. A concentration of pottery finds and the soil of a ruin were noted close to the buildings on the Zamarin spur; these were probably ancient settlement remains. The rubbish dump that covered part of the spur made it difficult to locate ancient remains.
Early Chalcolithic period. Most of the finds were analogous to the Wadi Rabah and Jericho VIII cultures, which are identified in the research literature as Late Neolithic or Early Chalcolithic. There are different opinions concerning the nature of the phases––were they chronological phases or regional cultures that overlapped in time. The finds consisted mainly of jars or pithoi with upright everted rims (Fig. 7:1, 3) and holemouth jars with plain or cut rims (Fig. 7:2, 4–7); it is possible that the vessels in Fig. 7:2, 4 are deep bowls. Some of the potsherds had a red slip and the rim of one jar (Fig. 7:3) had a dark burnish. The single almost complete vessel was a holemouth jar (Figs. 2; 7:7), sometimes defined as a krater, which was discovered on bedrock in L208. Its complete shape is indicative of site remains and not merely scattered potsherds that originated from somewhere else. Garfinkel ascribed this vessel type to the Middle Chalcolithic period, or the Qatifian culture, based on its loop handles and the absence of a slip or decoration (Y. Garfinkel 1999, Neolithic and Chalcolithic Pottery of the Southern Levant (Qedem 39): 170, 190–191). Red-slipped sherds decorated with incised chevron patterns (Fig. 7:8) and small lug handles (Fig. 7:13) were characteristic of the Wadi Rabah culture. Other fragments included a lid (Fig. 7:9, cf. Garfinkel, above: Fig. 5), a handle (Fig. 7:12) that probably belonged to a churn or a bowl and two jar handles (Fig. 7:10, 11). The handles in Fig. 7:10, 12 may have belonged to the Late Chalcolithic period.
Early Bronze Age I. A single holemouth jar rim was discovered (Fig. 8:1). A small oval spindle weight with a hole in its center (Fig. 8:2) also belonged to the early periods, but could not be dated more accurately.
Middle Bronze Age II. Numerous fragments of pottery vessels were discovered: jars with a thin upright and everted rim (Fig. 8:3), jars or pithoi with a thickened and molded rim (Fig. 8:4, 5) and an unusual vessel, which may be a jar or a krater with a thickened rim and narrow body (Fig. 8:6). Other sherds belonged to wheel-made cooking pots with a gutter rim or thickened rim (Fig. 8:7, 8), a red-slipped dipper juglet (Fig. 8:9), a jar with a ridge on the neck (Fig. 8:10) and the base of a bowl (Fig. 8:11). The assemblage is dated to a later phase of MB IIA or the beginning of MB IIB.
Persian, Hellenistic and Roman Periods. The potsherds from the Persian period included several mortaria fragments (Fig. 8:12, 13), two fragments of Attic vessels from the fifth–fourth centuries BCE, a flat base probably from a lekythos (Fig. 8:14) and the base ring of a bowl (Fig. 8:15). The potsherds attributed to the Hellenistic period consisted of the rim of a black-slipped bowl (Fig. 9:1), the base of a slipped and burnished bowl (Fig. 9:2) and what may be the rim of an amphora (Fig. 9:3). A jar rim (Fig. 9: 4) with comparisons from Ramat Ha-Nadiv was ascribed to the Roman period.
Byzantine Period. A large quantity of pottery fragments from this period included imported bowls (Fig. 9:5, 6), a jar (Fig. 9:7), Gaza jars (Fig. 9:8, 9), a cooking krater (Fig. 9:10) and a jar stopper (Fig. 9:11). It seems that the rim with the stamped decoration (Fig. 9:12) should also be dated to this period.
Crusader and Mamluk Periods. Several sherds from these periods included the rim of a bowl from the Crusader period with a triangular cross-section and yellow-brown glaze (Fig. 10:1), a bowl fragment with a brown glaze over a white slip and a jar or basin fragment that had a thickened rim and brown, green and yellow glaze over a white slip, dating to the Mamluk period (Fig. 10:2, 3).
Ottoman Period. Fragments of a gray Gaza jug (Fig. 10:4), Marseilles tiles (Fig. 10:5) and several other modern finds were discovered. The two basalt bowls (Fig. 10:6, 7) cannot be accurately dated. Most of the finds were from a later phase of this period.
The flint finds did not form a homogenous assemblage and it seems they had derived from several periods. This repertoire of random implements included some that were not representative. Sixty-eight items were counted; 59% were made of homogenous flint (Eocene?), occurring in shades ranging from light gray to brown and the rest were of flint that contained white inclusions, stripes or light pink-colored flint. Most of the debris was of broken blades and bladelets with a triangular cross-section (width 1.3–1.9 cm) and the cores were used for knapping blades and bladelets (max. length 4.1 cm). Tools formed 63.2% of the items, mostly flakes and retouched blades. A bifacial sickle blade (Fig. 11:3) is distinguished by pressure flaking typical of the Neolithic period (Jericho IX phase). One bifacial tool came from the excavation (Fig. 11:4) and should probably be dated to the Chalcolithic period. Another sickle blade (Fig. 11:1) had a trapezoidal cross-section, reminiscent of Canaanean sickle blades, and should probably be dated to the Early Bronze Age. A tool with a rectangular cross-section (Fig. 11:2) was similar to the geometric sickle blades of the later phases of the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age.