Five strata were revealed in the excavated area (50 sq m; Fig. 1): Stratum V—rock-cuttings of shafts (?) in the bedrock surface, which dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age based on the ceramic evidence; Stratum IV—wall remains from the Hellenistic period; Stratum III—remains of a building that was destroyed by fire and dated to the Umayyad period; Stratum II—remains ascribed to the Umayyad period following the destruction of the building and Stratum I—accumulations attributed to the Middle Ages and later.
Stratum V. Two rock-cuttings in the bedrock surface (3 sq m; Fig. 2) were exposed. The eastern one (L116; diam. 0.8 m, max. depth 0.35 m; Fig. 3) was circular and its purpose was unclear, perhaps a shaft that was not completed. The western rock-cutting (L115; diam. 1 m, max. depth 1 m) was elliptical and became deeper toward the southeast, where jar fragments that seem to be characteristic of the Intermediate Bronze Age were found. The quarrying of the shaft openings may be installations or openings of Intermediate Bronze Age shaft tombs, in which case they indicate a possible expansion of the cemetery known to exist on the topographic terrace on the western side of the tell.
Stratum IV. Above the western shaft opening was a wall foundation (W104A) that sealed Stratum V and two walls perpendicular to it (W112, W103A, height 0.5 m), built of limestone and basalt (Fig. 4). The walls delimited a room whose eastern side was missing; the room contained fragments of pottery vessels, including hemispherical bowls, amphorae that mainly date to the Late Persian and the Early Hellenistic periods, and a fragment of a lamp dating to the Persian period (Fig. 5:1). In addition, a tiny fragment of a fibula and four pieces of unfired clay weights (Fig. 5:2, 3) were found. Although the purpose of the building is unclear, the pottery enabled to date the architectural remains to the Hellenistic period.
Stratum III. Three stone walls that delimited a building that included three rooms (L101, L102, L105, max. height 1.35–1.85; Fig. 6) were exposed above the remains of the wall tops of Stratum IV. The construction incorporated basalt stones and several roughly hewn lime stones. A tamped chalk floor was exposed in Rooms 101 and 102. It was overlain with numerous fragments of pottery vessels, which were also discovered inside the floor and below it; these included a bowl (Fig. 7:1) of Late Roman C/Phocaean Red Slip [PRS], Type 10c (Hayes J.W. 1972. Late Roman Pottery. London. Pp. 323–324), with a rim whose upper part is flat and elongated, dating to the mid sixth–early seventh centuries CE.
All the jar fragments belonged to barrel-shaped jars that have a wide body, molded neck and two loop handles on the vessel’s ribbed shoulder (Fig. 7:4–6). Such jars are very common to many assemblages from the Byzantine and beginning of the Islamic periods in the country and throughout the Galilee. An unusual sherd that belonged to a jar (Fig. 7:7) is an imitation of the White Painted jugs that are characteristic of the eighth century CE. Other pottery vessels consisted of a cooking pot with a thickened rim (Fig. 7:3) dating to the Byzantine period and a lid (Fig. 7:2) that resembles a deep bell-shaped bowl, which was apparently used to cover jars. The lid has a flat everted rim and broad ribbing. This type of lid is characteristic of the Late Byzantine period.
The vessels are typical of the seventh and early eighth centuries CE and allow us to date the construction of the building and the time of its use to the Umayyad period. Four basalt pestles (Fig. 5:4) and fragments of a limestone mortar were found on the floor of Rooms 101 and 102. The pottery, grinding and pounding vessels are indicative of a residential building. A layer of black ash mixed with burnt fragments of pottery vessels was found on top of the floor in Room 102. The accumulation of black ash (average thickness 1.3 m) and the collapse of building stones above the floors of the stratum indicate that the building was destroyed by fire.
Stratum II. Two meager walls (W108, W109) that formed a corner and were preserved two-three courses high were exposed on top of the collapsed remains of Stratum III. The walls were part of an installation in whose center was the remains of a tabun (Fig. 8). The potsherds recovered from the tabun and around it date to the Umayyad period. It seems that Stratum II represents the uninterrupted continuation of the settlement after the destruction of the building from Stratum III.
Stratum I. An accumulation layer overlying the remains of Stratum II contained numerous building stones and glazed potsherds that are characteristic of the Mamluk and Early Ottoman periods. Remains of a modern structure penetrated the stratum and severely damaged the ancient building from Strata III and II to such an extent that it could not be identified.
The five strata exposed in the excavation represent the history of the settlement on the hilltop of Nahf, which extended with gaps from the Intermediate Bronze Age to the modern era.