Horbat Yo’ah is located on a hillslope (200–250 m asl) in the Menashe Hills between the springs at ‘En Yo’ah and ‘En Bodad. Several small hillocks from various geological periods on the hill’s western side were scoured out by the many streams that cross the area. The site was previously surveyed by Olami (1981:45, Site 69). Surface finds collected by Shlomo Mandel over the years are currently displayed in the local museum at Kibbutz Ramat Ha-Shofet. A previous excavation about 600 m southeast of the current excavations revealed nine settlement strata dating from the Chalcolithic period, the Middle Bronze Age, and the Persian, Roman and Byzantine periods (Yannai 2018).
Seventeen excavation squares and ten half-squares were opened in two rows (Fig. 2). Two probe trenches were also excavated, at the northeastern (TR2) and the southwestern (TR1) ends of the excavation area. Three main strata were uncovered (III–I): remains of a settlement from the Early Chalcolithic period (Wadi Rabah culture; Stratum III); a Late Chalcolithic settlement (Ghassulian culture; Stratum II); and Middle Bronze Age IIA tombs (Stratum I). Fills of farmland and modern debris that covered the archaeological strata yielded small, worn potsherds dating from the Early Chalcolithic to the Late Roman periods.
Stratum III. The remains of a large settlement (Sqs A10–A20, B1–B36; length over 200 m) included walls and various installations; the architectural remains were concentrated mainly in Sqs A15–A20, B11–B36. The buildings’ walls were built of two faces of medium-sized fieldstones and were preserved to a uniform height; they served apparently as foundations for baked mudbrick walls. Rock-hewn and built installations were uncovered in the center of the excavation area and in the south. The flint assemblage from these squares included raw material, knapping debitage, cores and flint tools, indicating the existence of a local flint tool industry.
Stratum II. The stratum contained architectural remains, pottery (Fig. 3), clay and stone spindle whorls, stone artifacts—including basalt grinding tools—flint tools, and animal bones. The settlement remains were concentrated mainly in the center of the excavation area, in Sqs A13–A16, B13–B16. Architectural remains in the western part of the excavation area included massive walls (width 0.8 m, preserved height 1.0 m). Surfaces of small fieldstones abutting the walls probably served as bedding for a floor. The building’s walls and floors were founded on an alluvial layer (thickness 0.3–0.4 m) that contained small fieldstones, streambed pebbles, abundant small worn potsherds, and flint tools.
Stratum I. In Middle Bronze Age IIA, the site began to be used for burial. Six tombs were scattered across the excavation area: four of them were dug into the architectural remains of the Chalcolithic settlement, and two were dug into accumulations that covered the earlier settlement (Fig. 4). Three of the built tombs were found sealed with stone slabs, whereas the fourth built tomb had been robbed and had no covering and hardly any finds. The three sealed tombs yielded human skeletal remains arranged in a pile at the tomb’s eastern end, accompanied by bronze weapons; the tomb’s western end contained many pottery vessels and animal bones. One of the excavated tombs contained an articulated individual and in the other excavated tomb, only a skull, a few ribs, part of an arm and a bronze dagger were preserved.
Since similar tombs were excavated by Yannai (600 m to the east; Yannai 2018) it can be assumed that there was an extensive burial ground at the site in Middle Bronze Age IIA.