In May 2020, a salvage excavation was conducted in Kafr Kanna (Permit No. A-8704; map ref. 232797–870/739245–355; Fig. 1), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Sharif family, was directed by A. Efron (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi and Y. Lavan (administration), A. Kleiner (aerial photography and photogrammetry), A. Shapiro (GPS), H. Tahan-Rosen (plans), Y. Alexandre (pottery), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), L. Kupershmidt (metallurgical laboratory), D. Gazit (coin photography) and J.A. Sánchez Streger (numismatics). K. Haku, T. Lang, J. Peled, M. Peleg and E. Bisharat of the Israel Antiquities Authority, R. Khasibun and D. Binstock (students) and laborers from Kafr Manda participated in the excavation.
The excavation was conducted in the northern part of the Jebel Khuwweikha neighborhood, on the slope of a spur that drops down to the Bet Rimon valley. On the slope are outcrops of nari rock and it is naturally terraced (for background and references to previous excavations, see Alexandre 2013). The current excavation uncovered quarries and a courtyard(?) that may have been an entrance to a burial cave. The rock-hewn remains are difficult to date, but they were evidently covered with alluvium by the end of the Roman period, at the latest.
Quarries (L12–L16; Fig. 2). Quarry 12 was larger than the others, comprising several quarrying steps (step height 0.25–0.30 m, total height 1.50 m; Fig. 3), severance channels (width 0.10 m), and an undetached stone (0.25 × 0.50 × 0.60 m; Fig. 4). In the center of the quarry, above a soil accumulation (L5), a wall (W3) was noted, possibly collapsed stones. Quarry 13 comprised a single step (height c. 0.25 m) and a depression (depth c. 0.3 m) in its northern part. Quarry 14 (depth c. 0.3 m; Fig. 5) sloped eastward along the hill slope, and next to it, Quarry 15 comprised a hewn pit (1.1 × 1.2 m, depth c. 1.1 m; Fig. 6) whose sides were rounded near the bottom. The pit contained an accumulation of light-brown soil and chalk fragments (thickness c. 0.2 m). Quarry 16 comprised a single quarrying step (height 0.3 m; Fig. 7). Alluvium accumulated in the quarries yielded Late Roman pottery (not drawn).
Courtyard (?). A rock-hewn rectangle (L11; 2.1 × 2.9 m, excavated depth 1.1 m; Fig. 8) to the east of Quarry 16 may have been the entrance to a burial cave; only its southwestern corner was excavated. The hewn feature, widening to the west and south, probably led to an underground cavity that was blocked by small fieldstones (not excavated). A similar courtyard, leading to a burial cave, was found in a nearby excavation (Alexandre 2013). An accumulation of light brown soil excavated in the upper part of the hewn feature yielded a few potsherds, which were probably swept to the site. Four fragments of glassware (not drawn) were also found, including one diagnostic piece: a bowl or jug base made by adding a strip of hot glass to the bottom of the vessel to form a raised base; the base retains tooling marks at the place where it was fused to the body. Such bases date from the Late Roman–early Byzantine period (mostly fourth–early fifth century CE). Two very small rim fragments probably date from the same period. The current excavation also yielded a coin of Constantius II, minted in 337–361 CE (IAA 167541). The obverse of the coin shows the emperor’s bust facing right and the reverse shows the emperor facing left, holding a scepter in his left hand and a globe in his right.
Alexandre Y. 2013. Kafr Kanna (B). HA-ESI 125.