The excavation was conducted at the southeastern end of an elongated hill bordering the southern side of the Naḥal Ḥuqoq valley, on a geological seam of basaltic rock exposed on the slope of the Menuha Formation chalk hill. A survey of the site carried out in 2009 documented a few remains of walls, rock-hewn cupmarks and Roman-period pottery (Cinamon 2013: Site 10). A trial excavation carried out in December 2011 exposed an agricultural terrace wall and pottery dating from the Middle Bronze II and the Roman period (Berger 2012).
Three areas were excavated (100, 200, 300; Figs. 2, 3). Areas 100 and 200 were located where building remains and soil accumulations between bedrock outcrops were visible on the surface. Area 300 was opened where quarrying marks were identified on the limestone bedrock, but this area was only partially excavated due to safety considerations, as it lay at the edge of the cut hewn in the hill for the road. The excavation uncovered building remains dating from Middle Bronze IIB (Stratum II), and field walls, an agricultural watchtower and a quarry dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Stratum I). Iron Age I pottery, including scattered sherds of a casserole (Fig. 4:1), a cooking pot (Fig. 4:2) and a flask (Fig. 4:3), were also retrieved at the site, reflecting limited Iron I activity; a few Early Islamic and Ottoman-period potsherds were also found.
Stratum II—Middle Bronze IIB
Area 100 (Fig. 5). The excavation uncovered remains of a building comprising two rectangular rooms (L124, L125) built in a natural dip in the bedrock. The walls (W1081, W1082, W1141, W1201, W1251) were built on the bedrock surface that served as the floor. Wall 1081 clearly extended to the north, probably enclosing two additional rooms. An opening with a stone socket in W1201 (Fig. 6) attested to an entrance door into the building. The soil accumulation in Rooms 124 and 125 yielded in situ MB IIB domestic pottery, basalt grinding implements and flint artifacts (see Appendix). Similar finds were retrieved in the soil accumulations beneath the surface next to the building (L108), as well as in Stratum I fills and soil accumulations. A rock-hewn cupmark (L131) was uncovered on a rocky outcrop east of the area.
Area 200 (Fig. 7). The building comprised at least three rectangular rooms (L230/279, L270, L271), with walls mostly built of two rows of medium-sized stones with a small-stone core, the construction method and the finds on the floors resembling those in the building in Area 100. The building was delimited on the south by a natural limestone rock terrace, preserving the ancient remains beneath the accumulated soil layer. Room 230/279 (2.3 × 5.0 m) was divided widthwise by an internal wall built of a single stone row (W2302) that abutted the walls, indicating that it was a later addition; it may have been a partition wall dividing the room into two parts or a step between two levels in the room. The lower floor on the southern side of the room (L279) yielded a limestone mortar (Basket 27901/1) and a basalt grinding stone (Basket 27901/2; Fig. 8). Room 270, apparently extending to the west beyond the excavation limits, had a narrow partition wall (W2703), and it was cut by a later field wall (W2402; Fig. 9). An opening in the southeastern corner of Room 271 led eastward to a courtyard or room (L235) where the remains of a tabun (L234) were found, and another room or courtyard (L276) lay north of Room 235. A rock-hewn cupmark (L280) was found on the bedrock floor east of Room 276, above which a terrace wall (W2001) was later built. Fragmentary remains of walls (W2002, W2620) next to the rooms support the existence of additional buildings, rooms or courtyards.
In the western part of Area 200, the higher bedrock exposed a concentration of small rock-hewn installations, including ten cupmarks (Fig. 3:1–11), four basins (Figs. 3:12–15; 10) and a shallow elongated rock cutting whose function was unclear (Figs. 3:16; 10). The soil layer accumulated over the rock cuttings (L206, L216) yielded fragments of basalt grinding implements similar to those uncovered in the adjacent building, some basalt grinding tools from the building exactly matching the dimensions of the cupmarks (Fig. 11).
Stratum I—Roman and Byzantine Periods
Field Walls. The Middle Bronze Age remains in Areas 100 and 200 were overlain by several field walls, oriented north–south in alignment with the contour of the slope (W2, W1041, W1191, W2001, W2401, W2402), some of which were probably agricultural terrace walls. The walls incorporated the stones of the Stratum II Middle Bronze Age walls and were built on top of their foundation courses. The soil accumulated west of the walls yielded pottery sherds dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods and a coin dated to 330–340 CE (IAA 138495), these finds complementing the finds from the survey and the previous excavations (Berger 2012; Cinamon 2013).
Agricultural watchtower (Fig. 10). On the western side of Area 200, a rectangular structure was built on the soil accumulation (L206) overlying the bedrock in which the Stratum II basins and cupmarks were hewn. The structure (L268; 5 × 6 m, preserved height 1.3 m) yielded a few small worn pottery sherds dating from the Middle Bronze Age and the Roman and Byzantine periods, as well as an Ottoman-period copper pendant. This structure may have been an agricultural watchtower (shumera) associated with the field walls, and the fields may have belonged to the nearby Roman- and Byzantine-period village of Huqoq; the watchtower may possibly have been built later.
Quarry. In Area 300, a small courtyard quarry containing at least three quarrying steps was hewn in the limestone rock (Fig. 12). In the trial excavation, the upper step visible on the surface was misidentified as a winepress; in the current excavation, signs of stone quarrying and severance channels were identified. The eastern part of the quarry was destroyed by the Route 65 roadworks. No diagnostic finds were retrieved in the soil accumulated in the quarry. Similar stone quarries were visible on the hill slopes north of the excavation area (Fig. 2). Similar limestone quarries dating from the Roman and Byzantine periods have been found in Lower Galilee (Berger 2013; Zingboym and Dalali-Amos 2013; Cinamon 2014; Cinamon and Porat 2015), including on the periphery of the adjacent Roman–Byzantine-period settlement of Huqoq (Dalali-Amos 2014). The Horbat Kalanit quarries were probably the southern part of the Roman and Byzantine quarries of Huqoq.
Middle Bronze IIB Pottery
The Middle Bronze Age pottery is mostly characteristic of the early phase of MB IIB in the southern Levant, with a few sporadic potsherds dating from the early phase of MB IIA. The assemblage predominantly comprises plain domestic wares made of a coarse fabric containing multiple grits and has parallels in the Strata XVII–XVI pottery assemblages from nearby Tel Hazor.
Bowls, cups and goblets (Fig. 13:1–4). The assemblage includes open bowls with a curved wall and inward folded rim (Fig. 13:1, 2), a red-slipped cup (Fig. 13:3), and a carinated bowl (Fig. 13:4) that probably served as a drinking goblet (Amiran 1969:94–97, Pl. 27; Bonfil 2019:80–81).
Cooking pots (Fig. 13:5–13). The most common vessels are straight-sided, thick-walled cooking pots with a flat base and no handles. The pots, usually bearing soot marks, are handmade of a coarse fabric containing multiple grits, and the vessel base bears marks of the straw on which they were prepared. A thick clay band, sometimes decorated with deep thumb imprints, was applied beneath the rim, some pots having pierced holes above the clay band, either shallow or penetrating the vessel wall. These are characteristic cooking pots at MB IIB–C rural sites, for example, along the central mountain ridge of Israel (Cole 1984:61–64). They are rare in urban contexts, for example, a few pots appearing in Tel Hazor Stratum XVII (Bechar 2017:217, Fig. 7.11:1, 2). No pots of this type were found at Tel ‘Akko (Be’eri 2008:219–324) or at sites in the Jezreel Valley, such as Tel Qashish, Tel Yoqne‘am and Tel Megiddo (Bonfil 2019:83–84). Similar cooking pots were recently discovered at Haspin, a Middle Bronze Age fortified site in the Golan Heights (Tzin and Bron 2022).
Open cooking pot (Fig. 13:14). This cooking pot has a curved or slightly carinated wall and a rounded, outward folded rim. Similar pots have a rounded base and no handles, and the body diameter is usually the same or larger than that of the rim. These pots are characteristic of MB IIB–C and are common throughout the Levant (Bonfil 2019:84, Pl. 1.3.15:7–14).
Kraters (Fig. 14:1–6). A large deep krater with a triangular, out-folded rim (Fig. 14:1) usually has a rounded carination on the upper third of the wall and a high ring base (sometimes triangular), the maximum body diameter being the same as the rim diameter. The kraters usually have a high ring base and three wide loop handles between the rim and the shoulder, others having two handles or none (Bonfil 2019:82, Pls. 1.3.12:3; 1.3.13:6–9). These kraters are characteristic of MB IIB–C. Two closed kraters have a thick-walled globular body, no neck and a flat rim (Fig. 14:2, 3), the former more open with a slightly inverted rim; some kraters have a spout below the rim. This characteristic MB IIA vessel type has parallels at Tel Qashish IXa (Ben-Tor and Bonfil 2003: Figs. 89:18; 90:17, 18) and Tel Hazor XVI (Bechar 2017:214, Fig. 7.7: 1, 5, citing additional parallels), also appearing in MB IIB at Tel ‘Akko III (Be’eri 2008:243–244, Pl. 7:1). Deep closed kraters with a globular body and no neck (Fig. 14:4, 5) resemble the contemporary cooking pots in profile. The type is characteristic of late MB IIA and MB IIB (Be’eri 2008:246, Pl. 7:7, and see further references there). A closed krater has a flat rim with a central ridge and a wheel-combed decoration below the rim (Fig. 14:6). This type is characteristic of MB IIA and early MB IIB in the northern Levant, with parallels from contemporary sites in Syria. Similar vessels appear at Tel Hazor (Covello-Paran 2007: Fig. 15:13), at Tel ‘Akko Stratum III, and in Syria in Stratum G9 at Tel el-Mushrifeh/Qatna and Tel Nebi Mend (Be’eri 2008:245: Pl. 7:5, and see parallels there).
Jars (Fig. 14:7–11). The excavation yielded well-fired, wheel-made Canaanite jars with elliptical, ovoid or globular bodies, a concave neck with a ridged outer join between the rim and the neck, and either long, outward-folded elliptical rims (Fig. 14:7–9) or short, upright rims with a depression on the interior (Fig. 14:10). Some jars have no handles and others have two loop handles on the shoulder (Fig. 14:11; Ilan and Marcus 2019:15, Fig. 1.2.15:9–15). The jars reflect the MB IIA workshop tradition along the Levantine coast and they were transported in ships that plied the Levantine coastline (Ilan and Marcus 2019:15). This jar tradition continued into MB IIB in regions inland from the Levantine coast, especially along Israel’s central mountain ridge, whereas different, more varied jar shapes gradually evolved in the coastal region (Be’eri 2008:260–266, Pl. 9).
Pithoi (Fig. 15:1–7). The pithoi usually have an upright or outward-folded oval rim. Several sherds of the upper parts of pithoi retrieved could not be classified typologically as they lacked a neck and rim. Pithoi are rare in MB IIA, becoming gradually more prevalent in MB IIB–C.
Jugs and juglets (Fig. 16:1–6). The jugs and juglets include various forms, but typological comparisons are limited as only the rims were retained. Three jugs have an everted triangular rim (Fig. 16:1–3). A large plain dipper jug (Fig. 16:4) has a similar profile to a dipper juglet (Fig. 16:6). Dipper jugs/juglets are usually plain and have a long, narrow elliptical body, a loop handle from rim to shoulder, a funnel-shaped neck and a plain upright rim (sometimes with an interior groove) or a slightly inverted pinched rim, their form designed for scooping liquids out of storage vessels and pouring them into serving vessels in domestic contexts, storerooms and burial complexes (Be’eri 2008:278, Pl. 16). A shoulder sherd
of a Levantine Painted Ware storage jar or jug, made of well-levigated and well-fired clay, is painted with a wide matt horizontal red band between two black bands (Fig. 16:5). This decoration is characteristic of the early phases of MB IIA, for example, vessels from a tomb at Kibbutz Hagosherim (Covello-Paran 1996:81, Fig. 9:5). Simple geometric decorations—either monochrome or bichrome red and black—are found on jars, jugs and juglets (Bagh 2002; Ilan and Marcus 2019:20).
Tell el-Yahudiyeh juglet (Fig. 16:7). Tell el-Yahudiyeh ware first appears in the northern Levant at the end of MB IIA (Bietak and Aston 2019:137) and the tradition continues into MB IIB in the Levant, in Egypt and in Cyprus. Most vessels were reduction-fired, producing shades of gray and black, whilst some, including this sherd, were oxidation-fired, better sealing the vessel and producing an attractive sheen. A single body sherd with a dark brown-red slip and vertically burnished has several horizontal and vertical bands of punctures filled with white chalk and two incised geometric motifs of a triangle and three concentric circles. The fragment is attributed to the early Levantine Tell el-Yahudiyeh Ware, comprising globular, pear-shaped or biconical juglets bearing patterns of triangles, spirals and occasionally concentric circles (Bietak and Aston 2019:137). A few examples of concentric circles resembling an eye were incised on zoomorphic vessels, for example, at Tel Poleg (Gophna 1969:33–35; Cohen-Weinberger 2016: Fig. 8). In the northern Levant, several globular Tell el-Yahudiyeh juglets bearing concentric patterns within horizontal bands were found, for example, at Tel Hazor, at Ginossar and at Majdalouna in southern Lebanon (Amiran 1969:118, Photo 121, Pl. 36:14, 19, and further references there). No other examples of concentric and triangular motifs appearing on the same vessel are known.
Ritual Stand(?) (Fig. 16:8). The excavation yielded a fragment of a clay cylinder with a narrow opening and a straight plain rim, and a decorative thumb-imprinted plastic strip applied at the junction of the rim and the neck. The item is handmade from coarse clay full of brown grits and it is soot-marked on the exterior. The rim, decoration, and the clay composition resemble the straight-sided cooking pots.
Stopper(?) (Fig. 17; L245, B24507). A complete oval object was handmade from two pieces of light-colored clay. An upstanding rectangular piece with a perforated hole in the center was attached to an elliptic-shaped piece with a concave upper surface and a convex base. The object may have been a stopper for a narrow-mouthed storage vessel, and the hole may been intended for holding or hanging the object on a handle(?).
Roman and Byzantine Pottery
The pottery dating from the Roman and the Byzantine periods comprised only small worn sherds of vessel forms characteristic in Galilean pottery assemblages (not illustrated). Several sherds were recognized as Kefar Hananya forms and were probably manufactured at the nearby Kefar Hananya workshop, located only c. 5 km northwest of the site. These vessels included open bowls and cooking pots dating from the late first to mid-fourth centuries CE (Adan Bayewitz 1993:87–109, 112–115, 124–125). The storage jars were Roman-period bag-shaped jars with straight necks and various rims, similar to jars found in second to early fourth century CE assemblages at Capernaum (Loffreda 2008:122–126, ANF 10–12) and Zippori (Balouka 2013:37–39, Pls. 17–19). A small fragment of a piriform-shaped oil lamp with a small filling hole and bearing a vegetal motif near the short handle was similar to Roman-period lamps from ‘Ibbilin (Feig and Hadad 2015:110, Fig. 17). A couple of small, well-burnished pinkish orange rim sherds were Late Roman Red Ware bowls dating from the Byzantine period, the fifth to sixth centuries CE.
Stone Items
The excavation yielded 53 stone items, 47 made of basalt (c. 90% of the assemblage), two of tufa and the others of flint, sandstone, limestone and a river pebble. Apart from one bowl classified as a prestige object (see below Fig. 19:5; Rowan 1998:230), all the items are groundstone tools for various domestic activities and production processes (Rowan et al. 2006:576). The largest group comprises mostly intact basalt upper grinding stones of uniform shape between ellipsoid and circular (N=29; 55% of the assemblage; diam. 8–13 cm, thickness 3–6 cm; Fig. 18:1–4); four have striking marks in the center, indicating that they were also used as pounding stones. The large number of upper grinding stones suggests that there was an organized stone-working industry at the site. A group of intact round pounding stones are made of basalt, apart from one item made on a river pebble (N=7; diam. 6.5–12.0 cm; Fig. 18:5, 6), and a group of intact polishing stones are made of basalt, tufa and sandstone (N=6; 4.8–8.5 cm; Fig. 18:7–11). Three tools are pestles, two of which are bell-shaped and made of basalt (base diam. 5–6 cm; Fig. 19:1, 2), similar tools coming from Tel Yoqne‘am (Ben-Ami 2005: Fig. V.7:13–20) and Tel Jemmeh (Rowan 2014 Fig. 23.2:d). Four basalt implements include two mortars (Fig. 19:3, 4) and two broken thin lower grinding stones (length c. 0.25 m; not drawn), similar to examples from Tel Yoqne‘am (Ben-Ami 2005: Fig. V.6:1, 3), and an unfinished spherical basalt weight (diam. 8.5 cm; not drawn) was probably used as a digging weight on a hoe (Rosenberg 2011:80). The single fine basalt bowl fragment found in a soil accumulation near W2620 (L223; Fig. 19:5) has a rounded rim with an extremely smooth finish, involving lengthy preparation and polishing with considerable precision and skill. Similar vessels were found at Tel Jemmeh (Rowan 2014: Fig. 23.9:g) and Tel Mor (Ebeling 2007: Fig. 10.1:4).
Flint Items
The excavation yielded a total of 243 flint items, of which 25 (c. 10%) were defined as natural nodules, showing no clear indication of human working processes(Table 1). A high percentage of the finds (N=91; c. 37%) was designated debris, as numerous chunks were either too broken or too abraded to be ascribed to any technological category. Only 128 items (c. 53%; Table 2) were defined as artifacts and could be subjected to a techno-typological analysis. Among these artifacts, 15 items (c. 12%) showed indications of additional treatment and were therefore defined as tools. There were ten cores (c. 8%), two of which were ascribed to the Middle Paleolithic Levallois technique. Four sickle blades were the main diagnostic elements, exhibiting features characteristic of Early and Intermediate Bronze Age assemblages (Rosen 1997). One pebble was defined as a hammerstone.
Table 1. Flint Items
Flint items
Artifacts (see Table 2)
Natural nodules
Table 2. Artifacts
Primary elements
Natural-backed knifes
Core trimming elements
Total artifacts
Cores. The cores were relatively small (N=10; length 28–60 mm, width 27–56 mm). Five cores still bore cortex, covering 30–40% of their surface, indicating the use of small flint nodules. Technologically, four cores were amorphous, indicating the use of multiple removal surfaces and striking platforms, and three had a single striking platform. One core was defined as a ‘tested nodule’. The two Levallois cores exhibited a centripetal scar pattern.
Tools. The 15 tools included four sickle blades (Fig. 20:1–4; see Appendix), an end scraper, two side scrapers, six ad hoc tools and two broken tools that bear retouching but were too damaged to allow any typological classification. The sickle blades were defined according to the presence of a characteristic gloss (Anderson 1980; Rosen 1997:55–56). Three blades (Fig. 20:1–3) were made of Canaanean prismatic blades, a technology attributed to Early and Intermediate Bronze Age industries (Rosen 1997). All three were broken, missing one or both of their edges and one was truncated, while the other two were not retouched; the fourth sickle blade was backed and truncated (Fig. 20:4). The ad hoc group includes one truncated flake, one distal edge denticulation, one ventral retouch and three items exhibiting partial, fine retouched “nibbling”.
Despite the small size of the flint assemblage and the relatively high percentage of debris, the diagnostic elements indicate the dominance of Early/Intermediate Bronze Age industries. Although retrieved from loci associated with Middle Bronze Age IIB remains, the assemblage does not contain any clear indication of lithic-related activities from this period. The two, albeit intrusive, Levallois cores imply the presence of a Middle Paleolithic industry in the vicinity of the site.
The pottery and groundstone assemblages retrieved from the Middle Bronze Age buildings consisted almost entirely of plain domestic artifacts. The pottery predominantly comprised cooking and storage wares, indicating that the buildings were part of a rural agricultural settlement. The basalt grinding stones found in the buildings adjacent to the rock-hewn cupmarks and matching their dimensions, support the understanding that the cupmarks dated to the MB IIB occupation layer. Whilst rock-hewn cupmarks are also common at Roman- and Byzantine-period sites (Ahlström 1978), they were cut in a different manner—often in pairs on the sloping surfaces of installations—as, for example, at the nearby site of Huqoq (Tepper and Tepper 2009; License No. S-714/2016). The building remains exposed in the excavation may have belonged to a small Middle Bronze Age farmstead settlement or to a larger rural complex that has not yet been uncovered. Since Middle Bronze II sites with architectural remains have rarely been uncovered on the hillslopes west of the Sea of Galilee (Hartal 2009; Jaffe 2013), the discovery of the site expands our limited knowledge on the Middle Bronze Age settlement pattern in this region.
Apart from limited activity in Iron Age I, the site was deserted until the Roman period. In the Roman and Byzantine periods, the site was exploited for agricultural activity and stone quarrying, probably associated with the adjacent contemporary village of Huqoq.