In July 2012 mechanical equipment was used to excavate trial trenches on Re’uven Street, c. 180 m southwest of the excavation on Ha-Rakevet Street (Permit No. A-5863). In three of the probes a thick layer of flint containing Paleolithic flint tools was discovered. Therefore, the aim of the current excavation was to examine whether the flint layer is part of the layer of erosion identified on Ha-Rakkevet Street or it represents another archaeological site.
An excavation square (5 × 5 m) was opened just west of one of the trial trenches (Area D; Fig. 1). Most of the area was dug using mechanical equipment, except for the eastern section that was manually excavated. Diagnostic flint tools were collected during the excavation with the backhoe and when the section was cleaned. Five strata were identified; the bottom three correspond to those identified at Ha-Rakkevet Street (Fig. 2).
Stratum 1 (0.4–0.5 m). Dark clay fill containing modern artifacts.
Stratum 2 (0.2–0.3 m). Floor remains of a modern building, including a stone pavement installed on top of gravel and sand.
Stratum 3 (1.0–1.1 m). A layer of dark clay, the upper part of which contained several worn pottery sherds and flint items.
Stratum 4 (1.0–1.1 m). A layer of flint pebbles (conglomerate) bonded inside light colored clay sediment. Paleolithic tools characteristic of the Acheulean culture, including hand axes, were found among the river pebbles (Fig. 3).
Stratum 5. Hard limestone rock of the Bina Formation.
The excavation results showed that the flint layer on Re’uven Street is a continuation of the ancient erosion layer found at Ha-Rakkevet Street (which was dated to 243,000 YBP using OSL methods). Like at Ha-Rakkevet Street, the flint layer contains tools characteristic of the Acheulean culture of the Lower Paleolithic period (c. 1,500,000–300,000 YBP). Although the finds were not in situ, their intensity and the diversity of tool types are indicative of an extremely important Acheulean site. It is impossible to estimate the original size of the site because the material was not discovered in situ. Nevertheless, it seems that the original site was located near the flint sources in the vicinity of the national watershed and was used by members of the Acheulean culture over tens of thousands of years.
The documentation of the flint layer on Re’uven Street contributes to our understanding of the intensity of the erosion process which was identified over a distance of at least 300 m along the ancient river channel that drained into Nahal Refa’im. It is important to note that large river pebbles, weighing as much as tens of kilograms, were found in this layer. These characteristics are indisputable evidence attesting to a different hydrology in the past, which is indicative of large amounts of rainfall in the Early Stone Age in the ‘Emeq Refa’im basin.