In July 2019, a trial excavation was carried out on the southern edge of Horbat Darkemon near Kibbutz Nahsholim (Permit No. A-8569; map ref. 193484–612/724005–55; Fig. 1), prior to development. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Israel Railways, was directed by D. Golan, with the assistance of Y. Amrani and E. Bachar (administration), R. Mishayev (survey and drafting), I. Jonish (field and aerial photography, photogrammetry), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology), Y. Tepper (scientific guidance), P. Gendelman (consultation), K. Segal (preliminary inspections), the Aquaculture Research Station in Dor (water supply), K. Raveh and R. Yizre’eli from Kibbutz Naḥsholim, B. Zilberstein from Ha-Mizgaga Museum of Archaeology and Glass, L. Talmi, M. Hater and K. Sa‘id.
The excavation area abutted the road to Nahsholim, which cuts through the kurkar ridge along the beach, c. 1 km east of Tel Dor. It revealed three quarries, four rock-cut tombs, a wall and an aqueduct.
Horbat Darkemon, which appears on the Palestine Exploration Fund survey map as Khirbat Dureihemeh, was surveyed and excavated in the past (Ovadiah 1985; Sari 1999; Olami, Sender and Oren 2005:53–56; Mahajna 2007). Numerous tombs hewn in the kurkar were documented, along with winepresses, a columbarium and other installations, settlement remains and sherds from the Persian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
Quarries. Three quarries were unearthed in the eastern (5 × 10 m, depth 4.8 m; Fig. 2), central (0.7 × 9.5 m, depth c. 4 m; Fig. 3) and western (10 × 30 m, depth > 3 m; Fig. 4) parts of the site. A wall at the northern edge of the eastern quarry, built of two rows of large fieldstones interspersed with small stones and soil, was preserved to a height of one course. A layer of crushed kurkar (thickness c. 0.7 m) at the bottom of the trench excavated near the wall was likely quarrying debris discarded at the bottom of the quarry. Above the debris was a layer of dark brown soil (thickness c. 0.4 m) and upon it was a wall, which clearly postdated the quarrying activity.
Detachment channels in the middle quarry bore marks attesting to vertical use of a detachment tool (crowbar?). A trial trench dug in the quarry revealed a layer of crushed kurkar (thickness 0.28 m) below a layer of dark brown soil (thickness 1.2 m). Above the western edge of the quarry was a broad and high rock step with two round perforations (diam. 0.35 and 0.43 m, depth 0.48 and 0.75 m, respectively) in its walls; these may have served to anchor wooden beams of an apparatus to lift stones cut in the lower part of the quarry to the surface.
The western quarry, of which only the western part was excavated, resembled the middle quarry and displayed quarrying marks of dressed stones. Large chunks of kurkar on the southern side of the quarry appear to have been the roof of a collapsed cave; this area was not excavated due to safety concerns.
The pottery discovered in the quarries dates from the Hellenistic to the Ottoman periods. Finds from the Byzantine period were particularly prominent; thus, it may be proposed that the quarries were in use mainly at that time.
Tombs. Three hewn north–south oriented tombs and one east–west tomb were uncovered (Fig. 5). The sides of one of the tombs are rounded toward their bottom, apparently the result of a chisel or pickaxe used in a circular motion (Gorzalczany 2007:41). In another tomb only the short sides were hewn at a slope similar to that of the first tomb. In the additional two tombs, shelves were cut above the sides to accommodate cover slabs (Fig. 6). Either one or two natural or hewn round holes were found in the bedrock floors of both tombs, the likes of which were also documented on the surface. Some of the artifacts found in the tomb were either disturbed or in a state of deterioration. The tombs had been robbed, and so far they have been difficult to date. Future exploration may help date them.
Aqueduct. A segment of the channel of the aqueduct to Dor, known from previous excavations (Ovadiah 1985:164; Peleg 1989; Olami, Sender and Oren 2005:62), was uncovered. It is U shaped (excavated length c. 7 m; Fig. 7) and hewn on a roughly northwest–southeast axis; some of the slabs that had covered it were preserved in situ. There were two layers of plaster at the bottom of the channel, separated by a fill layer (thickness c. 0.1 m). Plaster samples from the aqueduct were sent for analysis and radiocarbon dating; these will help in dating the aqueduct and understanding the plaster production technology.
Gorzalczany A. 2007. Stone Quarries at Horbat Gilan, in the Menashe Hills. ‘Atiqot 55:37–44 (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 55–56).
Mahajna S. 2007. Horbat Darkemon (East). HA-ESI 119.
Olami Y., Sender S. and Oren A. 2005. Map of Dor (30) (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.
Ovadiah A. 1985. Soundings on the Hadera-Haifa Road Between Nahsholim and Habonim. ʻAtiqot (ES) 17:161–167.
Peleg U. 1989. Two Aqueducts to Dor. In D. Amit, Y. Hirschfeld and Y. Patrich eds. The Aqueducts in Ancient Palestine. Jerusalem. Pp. 109–114 (Hebrew).
Sari K. 1999. Horbat Darkemon. ESI 19:103*–104*.