In October 2014, a burial was documented on an islet known as Temanun Island (Octopus Island), near the submerged site of Newe Yam (Permit No. G-62/2014; map ref. 193321/731488). The documentation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and Haifa University, was directed by E. Galili, with the assistance of J. Benjamin (Flinders University, Australia) and J. McCarthy (Wessex Archaeology, UK; photography). The burial was found and reported to the IAA by L. Gan and T. Kimchi.
The archaeological remains of a human burial (0.3 × 0.4 × 0.6 m; Figs. 3, 4) were found embedded in a mass of breccia adhering to the kurkar bedrock, 0.6–1.0 m above present sea level. The breccia probably represents the disintegrated grave contents due to ongoing exposure to marine erosion. The human remains included a skull cap (calvaria; Fig. 5); parts of a lower mandible with three teeth and a fourth, unerupted deciduous tooth (Fig. 6); as well as long bones and rib fragments (Fig. 7). Preliminary observations indicate that these represent a primary burial of an infant (1–2 years old) buried with its head oriented to the north (Fig. 3). It was associated with a broken pottery vessel, possibly a bowl, with an elongated nozzle (Fig. 8) and a flint flake, both of which may represent grave goods.
The burial seemingly dates to a time when the sea level was 7–8 m lower than today. At the time, the islet was a prominent kurkar hill on the coast, partly covered by sand, facing the open sea on the west and the village of Newe Yam and Mount Carmel to the east. After the rising sea inundated the Newe Yam village, the hill became a small islet. Wave action removed the covering sand, exposed the burial and eroded the kurkar rock, thus forming an abrasion platform around the islet (Fig. 9).
The burial may be associated with the nearby submerged site of Newe Yam, where dwellings and stone-built cyst graves, belonging to the Wadi Rabah culture, were excavated (Fig. 1). The Newe Yam cyst graves were lined with undressed stones and covered by stone slabs; the disintegration of such a grave may be the source of the breccia found in the Temanun Island burial. Whereas grave goods may have been found in the Temanun Island grave, no grave goods were associated with the Newe Yam cyst graves; however, three concentrations of charred seeds, possibly remains of ritual meals (Galili, Sharvit and Nagar 1998; Galili et al. 2010), and an anthropomorphic bone figurine (Galili, Kolska-Horowitz and Rosen 2015) were found in an area adjacent to the burials. Infant graves containing grave goods are known from other Wadi Rabah sites in Israel, for example at ‘En Zippori, where an infant burial was covered by a holemouth jar (Milevski and Getzov 2014: Fig. 6). A similar grave was recently reported from the same site (Yaroshevich 2016: Figs. 13, 14).
The location of the Temanun Island burial and its associated contents can provide further insights into the development of burial practices in coastal Late Pottery Neolithic/Early Chalcolithic settlements. Salvage excavations are required to save the finds from destruction and to enable further study of the burial and the associated finds. Such work may provide more accurate dating, precise chrono-typological identification of the pottery vessel and further evidence of sea-level changes (Galili et al. 2016: Fig. 5).
Galili E., Cvikel D., Benjamin J., McCarthy J. 2016. Haifa, Kefar Samir (Dado beach). HA-ESI 128.
Galili E., Eshed V., Rosen B., Kislev M., Simchoni O., Hershkovitz I. and Gopher A. 2010. Evidence for a separate burial ground at the submerged Pottery Neolithic site of Neve-Yam, Israel. Paléorient 35/1:31–46.
Galili E., Kolska-Horwitz L.K., and Rosen B. 2015. Newe Yam: Anthropomorphic Figurine. HA-ESI 127.
Galili E. and Rosen B. 2011. Submerged Neolithic Settlements off the Mediterranean Coast of Israel. In J. Benjamin, C. Bonsall, C. Pickard and A. Fischer eds. Submerged Prehistory. Oxford. Pp. 272–286.
Galili E., Sharvit Y. and Nagar A. 1998. Nevé Yam, Underwater Survey. HA-ESI 18:35–36.
Milevski Y. and Getzov N. 2014. ‘En Zippori. HA-ESI 126.