In September 2016, an excavation was carried out at the Hosha‘ya Junction, north of Hosha‘ya (Permit No. A-7792; map ref. 227782–8043/741544–655; Fig. 1), prior to construction of an interchange. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Netivei Israel National Transport Infrastructure Company, was directed by A. Mokary (field photography), with the assistance of R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting), Y. Alexandre (pottery), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and Z. Turgeman-Yaffe (archeozoology).
The excavation took place in a natural cave discovered during a preliminary survey; near the cave were pottery sherds from the Early Roman period (first century CE). Previous excavations and exploration in the nearby area uncovered a segment of a Roman imperial road and a second-century CE milestone station (Archives of the Israel Milestone and Roman Roads Committee) to northeast of the cave, on the southern outskirts of the village of Rumat el-Heib. Additional segment of a Roman imperial road three milestones from the second and the fourth centuries CE were uncovered near the Eshkol Reservoir (Tepper 2014; Tepper 2018; Fig. 1: A-6330). Remains of a rural road from the Roman–Byzantine periods and a row of stones and hewn installations (Tepper 2016; Fig. 1: A-7330) to the northwest of the cave. Another section of a Roman imperial road, from the fourth century CE, leading to Sepphoris-Diocaesarea, was found to the southwest, with a rural road found beneath it (Covello-Paran and Tepper 2011; Fig. 1: A-5752).
The cave (2.3 × 6.0 m, height 3.7 m; Fig. 2) was found half filled with alluvium and collapsed stones, in which three layers were discerned. The upper layer (L100) yielded a few pottery sherds and 25 animal bones of several species; the bones apparently do not belong to the archaeological context of the cave. The middle layer (L111) comprised stones that had fallen from the roof and walls of the cave and was devoid of artifacts. The lower layer extended down to the floor of the cave, covering five natural depressions (L102, L104, L107, L108, L109; depth of each c. 0.6 m; Fig. 3). Marks on the walls of these depressions indicate that they were intentionally enlarged. Another depression, paved with small, flat limestones (L106; Fig. 4), was found in the western wall of the cave, c. 0.7 m above the cave floor.
A layer of accumulated soil excavated to the east of the cave (L103) revealed a natural depression in the rock (L101; depth 0.7 m) which led into the cave via a round opening (diam. 0.6 m) near its ceiling. Depression 101 contained pottery fragments of a bowl (Fig. 5:1) and of two storage jars (Fig. 5:4, 5) dating from the Early Roman period (first century CE). Other potsherds found in and around the cave are similar in date and include a storage jars (Fig. 5:2, 3, 6, 7) and jugs (Fig. 5:8, 9).
Covello-Paran K. and Y. Tepper. 2011. Zippori (North). HA-ESI 123.
Tepper Y. 2018. A Milestone Station in the Bet Netofa Valley, North of Zippori, and its Place in the Roman Imperial Road System in the Galilee. ‘Atiqot 93:1*–24* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 163–165).