In August–September 2014, a salvage excavation was conducted at ‘En Zippori (Permit No. A-7177; map ref. 225832–6095/737182–399), prior to widening Highway 79. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the National Transport Infrastructure Company, Ltd., was directed by A. Yaroshevich (field and studio photography), with the assistance of F. Abu Zidan, A. Mokary and Z. Matskevich (area supervision), Y. Bibas and Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), R. Mishayev, M. Cohen and R. Liran (surveying and drafting), the Griffin Aerial Imaging Company (aerial photography), I. Milevski and N. Getzov (ceramics), M. Shemer (flint implements) and Y. Nagar (physical anthropology). The author wishes to thank D. Avshalom-Gorni, M. Peleg and D. Barshad for the logistical assistance and A. Shapiro for help in preparing the location map.
Pre-Pottery Neolithic B
Area N6. Compacted dark brown soil containing flint tools was discovered in the southwestern part of the area.
Area N7. Several sections of a plaster floor (Fig. 5) were exposed. A circular pit (diam. c. 0.5 m, depth c. 0.3 m) paved with small stones was revealed in the best preserved section (L717). In addition, accumulations of compacted dark brown soil were found, containing arrowheads (Fig. 6) and sickle blades (Fig. 7) which are characteristic of the period.
Area N5. Settlement remains were found, and four phases were identified (Fig. 2). (1) In the earliest phase, a rectangular building (4 × 6 m) was founded on fine-grained soil, which contained several pottery and flint items. The walls of the building (W154, W160, W161, W172, W174; width 0.5–0.6 m) were preserved to a height of two–three courses. The entrance to the building was probably in the western wall. The eastern wall (W160) continued north beyond the presumed corner it formed with W154. Remains of a plaster floor which was laid over small stones were discovered in the building. To the west and to the south of the building were levels of light-brown fine-grained soil rich in animal bones, pottery and flint tools; these levels may conceivably have been inner courtyards or rooms in the building. East of the building a level of small packed stones was exposed, which may have been a street, a passage or an open paved space. (2) Broad massive walls (W137, W144, W152, W180; width 1.3 m; Fig. 8) preserved to a height of two–four courses, were discovered above a layer of soil (thickness 0.10–0.25 m) that had accumulated over the building remains of the early phase. These walls may have belonged to two buildings separated by a narrow passage, or they may have been part of the same building. The construction and the plan of the walls are unique, unknown from anywhere else. (3) Wall sections (W127, W151), column bases and remains of plaster floors on foundations of small stones were discovered. A jar containing skeletal remains of an infant was found in situ (Figs. 9, 10), in the foundations of one of the floors. This floor sealed W137 of Phase 2. A circular installation (Fig.11), built of large stone slabs was uncovered on the stone foundations in the eastern side of the area. (4) Floor foundations (L113, L120, L128) made of small stones were exposed in the southern part of the area.
Area N6. Settlement remains were discovered, and five phases were identified. (1) The earliest phase was exposed in the southwestern part of the area. An accumulation of light-colored soil was uncovered, as well as pits (L360, L368; Fig. 12) dug within each other, and an installation built of mud bricks. A thick plaster fragment was revealed in the middle of one of the pits. It seems that the pit damaged a PPNB plaster floor, which was partly exposed in the past, west of the excavation area (Area N2). The floors of Pits 360 and 368 were only 0.2 m above the plaster floor that was uncovered in Area N2. (2) A floor with concentrations of small stones, apparently installations (Fig. 13), and an impressive built tomb (Fig. 14) were discovered. The tomb was constructed of large rectangular fieldstones, covered with three large stone slabs and marked by a circle of stones. The skeleton of an adult male lying in a semi-flexed position inside the tomb was covered with packed dark brown soil, which is characteristic of the PPNB strata at the site. A long sickle blade that was knapped using the naviform technology characteristic of the PPNB, was recovered from the sopil above the deceased; it is not clear if the object was placed there intentionally. Similar soil containing PPNB flint tools and a small number of pottery-fragments was exposed north of the tomb. The tomb was apparently dug into a PPNB level. (3) A level of small stones in light gray soil, rich in flint tools and pottery sherds was exposed. (4) Remains of walls (W331, W340, W342, W356, W364, W366, W386, W387) and abutting floors were discovered. A fragment of a bone figurine (below) was found on one of the floors (L365). A concentration of burnt bricks was discovered on another floor. (5) Remains of walls (W318, W329, W337, W362), floors with small stone installations on them, and column bases were discovered.
Area N7 yielded mostly accumulations of light-colored soil containing small angular stones (L723, L744, L746); part of the accumulated soil was found inside pits that damaged the PPNB plaster floors. Other pits (L724, L726) were dug into virgin soil down to the bedrock. A concentration of burnt bricks (L748), possibly an installation, was found in the middle of the area. Remains of two walls (W742, W747) were revealed in the western part of the area. Wall 747 was exposed at the bottom of a pit (L719), whereas W742 was exposed at the top of an Early Chalcolithic level. The considerable difference in elevation between the two walls indicates that they belong to two different settlement phases within the Early Chalcolithic period.
The three areas yielded rich assemblages of pottery, including vessels of the Wadi Rabah culture (Fig. 15); flint tools, including sickle blades (Fig. 16) and bifacial tools of the Wadi Rabah culture (Fig. 17); and sling stones (Fig. 18). Two fragments of figurines and a worked river pebble were also found. A fragment of polished bone figurine decorated with incised lines was discovered on Floor 365 in Area N6 (Fig. 19). Similar figurines were found in Israel at Newe Yam (Galili et al., in press), Ha-Gosherim (Getzov 2011) and ‘En Zippori (Milevski and Getzov 2014), as well as in Spain and the Fertile Crescent (Gimbutas 1989). A fragment of a head of a clay anthropomorphic figurine was discovered in the soil (L733) that covered the PPNB plaster floor in Area N7 (Fig. 20). The facial features of the figurine resemble those of a stone figurine from Newe Yam (Galili et al., in press). A flat river pebble incised on both sides was discovered at the top of W154 in Area N5 (Fig. 21).
Early Bronze Age IB
Remains of a wide, north–south wall (W107; width 1.9 m) and a square building with rounded corners that adjoined it from the east (W106, W114, W119; Fig. 22), were exposed in Area N5. Wall 107 was built to conform with the topography, with more courses of stonework where the surface dipped; the wall was preserved to a height of one–three courses. The bottom courses of the wall and the building were incorporated into the Phase 4 foundation of small stones dating from the Early Chalcolithic period. The width of W107, its manner of construction and its orientation are identical to those of the EB IB city wall that was previously revealed north of Highway 79 (Milevski and Getzov 2014; Milevski, Liran and Getzov 2014; Fig. 23); it therefore seems very likely that W107 is part of this city wall. It is possible that building remains that adjoin the wall were the base of a tower or a guard house. Numerous fragments of EB IB pottery were found to the west of W107, but very few to its east. Thus, it seems that this wall enclosed the settlement from the east. The city wall running from north of the section exposed in Area 5 up to Highway 79 was destroyed in antiquity, perhaps during the Roman period (below). Deep pits containing dark-colored soil were identified in the sections there.
Intermediate Bronze Age
In Area N7 an accumulation of small stones was exposed in loose, dark, friable soil (thickness c. 0.15 m).
The Roman Period
Area N5 yielded a wall (W126) constructed of one row of stones, some of them ashlars. It was found near the surface, adn was therefore poorly preserved. The wall was dated to the Roman period on the basis of pottery that was found next to it. The proximity of this wall to the line of the EB IB W107 may indicate that the latter was destroyed in the Roman period.
Area N7. Two wide walls (W714, W715; Fig 4; W714 does not appear in the photograph) were exposed. They are east–west oriented and built of two rows of large fieldstones with small stones between them. Their alignment and construction method indicate they were both part of the large building that was destroyed during the construction of the Highway 79. Pottery discovered at the base of W715 dates the building to the Roman period.
Building remains of the PPNB show that the settlement extended over a large area during that period. Additioal remians of this settlemet were discovered in previous excavations. The remains of the settlement from the Early Chalcolithic period (Wadi Rabah culture) are the principal finds in the excavation, and they include several construction phases with large buildings, an impressive tomb and installations, as well as rich assemblages of pottery, flint tools, stone objects and artistic artifacts. The building remains of the EB IB probably constitute the continuation of the city wall, which was partly uncovered in the past near the excavation area. Scant remains were found from the Intermediate Bronze Age, and remains of walls of a large structure from the Roman period were uncovered.
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Getzov. N. 2011. Seals and Figurines from the Beginning of the Early Chalcolithic Period at Ha-Gosherim. ‘Atiqot 67 (Hebrew, pp. 1–26; English summary, pp. 81*–83*).
Gimbutas M. 1989. The Language of the Goddess. San Francisco.
Milevski I. and Getzov N. 2014. ‘En Z
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Milevski I., Liran R. and Getzov N. 2014. The Early Bronze Age Town of ‘En Zippori in the Galilee (Israel). Antiquity Gallery 339