In April 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted at Zufim (Judea and Samaria License No. 09-03-14; map ref. 201362/677918; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Judea and Samaria Archaeology Officer and funded by the Samaria Regional Council, was directed by O. Varoner (flints) and E. Freiman (field photography and surveying), with the assistance of O. Marder and Y. Peleg, who first identified the site.
The settlement of Zufim is located on an exposed hill (180 m asl) in western Samaria, c. 3 km southeast of Kochav Ya’ir–Zur Yig’al. The hill is composed of Cenomanian–Turonian limestone rock containing Eyal Formation flint outcrops, overlain by alluvial soil. The identification of concentrations of flint items dispersed on the surface in a development survey carried out at the site, led to the decision to undertake an excavation and to systematically collect the flint items and raw materials.
Three excavation areas—Area A (23 squares, 92 sq m), Area B (10 squares, 40 sq m), and Area C (4 squares, 16 sq m)—were opened, and a field-walking survey was conducted between Areas A and B (Fig. 2). The excavation method involved collecting and sieving all the finds. A shallow trial excavation (depth 10 cm) was conducted in squares that yielded a concentration of finds, in order to assess the presence of in situ living surfaces. Craters and quarrying faces attesting to flint-nodule mining, were also documented.
In the course of the excavation, c. 15,000 flint items were collected, most of which were well preserved. The flint items belong to all the knapping stages, and include cores made of thin, good-quality flint chunks, with a natural striking platform and characterized by the removal of flakes and blades, mainly from the sides of the flint chunk. The assemblage of diagnostic tools included a few bifacial items, including transverse removals on the working edge that are characteristic of Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (Barkai 2011). Apart from the flint assemblage, the excavation yielded evidence of flint mining, including many shallow, round or oval craters (Fig. 3) and vertical rock cuttings (Fig. 4).
The site joins a group of Pre-Pottery Neolithic A sites uncovered in recent decades (Rosenberg and Groman-Yaroslavski 2005; Zbenovich 2006; Marder et al. 2007; Zbenovich 2012; Malinsky-Buller et al. 2013; Zbenovich 2014
). The site characteristics and its flint assemblage resemble the Tzur Natan site, which was probably a temporary site where various activities took place, including flint mining and processing vegetal resources (Marder et al. 2007:95–98). Based on its characteristics, similar activities may also have taken place at the Z
ufim site, and the two sites may belong to the same PPNA settlement system.
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