In April 2020, a salvage excavation was conducted at Tel Menora, to the northwest of Kibbutz Tirat Zvi (Permit No. A-8731; map ref. 249530–920/703320–820; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a road. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Kibbutz Tirat Zvi, was conducted by N. Harash (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi and Y. Lavan (administration), A. Ibrahim (surveying and photography), H. Tahan-Rosen (plan and pottery drawing), A. Shapiro (map), R. Kapul (antiquities inspection), R. Be’eri (scientific guidance), K. Covello-Paran (pottery), U. Berger (flint photography), Y. Tzur and B. Hanna.
Tel Menora (area c. 5 dunams) rises c. 10 m higher than its surroundings and has a low easterly spur (Kohn-Tavor 2008: Site 56). The soil on the tell is gray rendzina soil deriving from weathered calcareous tuff. Previous surveys of the tell recovered pottery from the Early Bronze I, the Middle Bronze I and II, the Late Bronze Age, the Iron Age I and II, and the Persian, Hellenistic, Byzantine and Early Islamic periods (Kohn-Tavor 2008). Approximately 250 m north of Tel Menora, remains were excavated in the past of an Iron Age building overlain by a sixth-century CE synagogue containing a mosaic pavement decorated with a menorah and a shofar (Goldschmidt 1973:39–40). In the past, burial caves and tombs from the Early Bronze I and II, the Intermediate Bronze Age and the Iron Age I, and remains of buildings from the Byzantine period were uncovered in Kibbutz Tirat Zvi (Tsori 1975). Settlement remains from the Intermediate Bronze Age, including installations, rock-hewn cisterns and cupmarks, were previously uncovered c. 230 m northeast of the excavation squares (Har’el 2013; Fig. 1: A-6119).
The excavation took place on the southeastern slope of Tel Menora. Two excavation squares were opened (Figs. 2, 3)—first with mechanical equipment, to a depth of 0.7 m, and then manually. The soil accumulation that had not been disturbed yielded potsherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age, the Middle Bronze IIB and the Late Bronze Age, and one flint item.
The Intermediate Bronze Age pottery includes holemouth jars (Fig. 4:1–3), small jars (Fig. 4:4, 5) and a folded shelf handle (Fig. 4:6). Similar pottery was found in the Intermediate Bronze Age settlement remains excavated c. 230 m to the northeast (Har’el 2013). The Middle Bronze Age II pottery includes open bowls (Fig. 4:7–12), basins (Fig. 4:13–15), cooking pots (Fig. 4:16, 17), jars (Fig. 4:18, 19) and a small jar (Fig. 4:20). The Late Bronze Age pottery consists of a single open bowl (Fig. 4:21). Similar pottery from the Intermediate Bronze Age has been found in settlement remains, tombs and at other tells in the Jordan Valley (e.g., at Sha‘ar Hagolan; Eisenberg 2012: Fig. 41:1, 2). The single flint item recovered from the excavation is a Canaanite sickle-blade bearing sickle sheen (Fig. 5). Blades of this type were used mostly in the Early and Intermediate Bronze Ages (Rosen 1997:107–109). No building remains were discovered in the excavation; it is possible that no such remains were preserved due to intensive agricultural work in the excavation area. The pottery finds suggest the presence of tombs from the Middle Bronze Age, but no tombs were discovered.
Eisenberg E. 2012. The Early Bronze Age IV Site at Sha'ar Ha-Golan. ‘Atiqot 69:1–73.
Goldschmidt S. 1973. Synagogue Remains at the Mound of Kefar Qarnaim. Eretz-Israel 11:39–40 (Hebrew).
Rosen S.A. 1997. Lithics after the Stone Age: A Handbook of Stone Tools from the Levant. Walnut Creek–London–New Dehli.
Tsori N. 1975. Middle Bronze I and Early Iron I Tombs Near Tel Rehov in the Beth-Shean Valley. Eretz-Israel 12:9–17 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 117*).