In July 2019, a salvage excavation was conducted at the site of Tel Nov (Permit No. A-8560; map ref. 27420–5/74820–9; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a water pipe. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by Mekorot Water Company Ltd., was directed by H. Mamalya (field photography) and T. Badihi (area supervision), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), S. Fridman (pottery), A. Kleiner (photography), H. Tahan-Rosen (map, plan and pottery drawing), O. Zingboym and K. Covello-Paran (scientific consultation) and a team of laborers from Kabul and Kafr Yassif.
The site of Tel Nov in southern Golan Heights is mentioned in several ancient texts. The Canaanite town of ‘Enu ‘Anabi mentioned in the Amarna Letters (Letter No. 256, fourteenth century BCE) is identified by some scholars as Nov (Weksler-Bdolah 2000:13*). The settlement of Nov is listed among the forbidden towns in the Sussita district (Shevi‘it 4:10; Jerusalem Talmud Demai 22:4), and it is mentioned in the mosaic inscription in the synagogue at Rehob (Sussman 1975:125). Surveys and excavations have been conducted at Tel Nov since the nineteenth century CE. In a survey from the 1880s, G. Schumacher mentions a spring feeding a pool built to the northeast of a ruin (Schumacher 1888:233). During the Emergency Survey in the Golan Heights, pottery from the Roman and Byzantine periods was identified (Epstein and Guttman 1972:283, Site 162). A survey of the abandoned villages in the Golan in 1968–1970 found ancient architectural features incorporated in the buildings of the Syrian village at the site (Urman 1985:204), and a 1983 survey identified ancient agricultural installations there (Ben-David 1998:30). The site was first excavated in 1993 when four strata were identified: the Iron Age II, Persian period, Late Hellenistic period and Late Roman period (Weksler-Bdolah 2000). A later excavation conducted in 2007, 15 m southeast of the current excavation site, uncovered a wall used to divert water to the pool and finds from the Ottoman period and the British Mandate era (Daniel 2008).
The current excavation (50 sq m) extends along the western bank of Nahal Nov, on the southern slopes of Tel Nov and the edge of a partially built ancient reservoir. Two settlement strata were uncovered (II, I), containing the remains of walls dating from the Hellenistic period (third–first centuries BCE; Fig. 2).
Stratum II. A section of a wall (W52) was uncovered. It comprised a single course of large basalt fieldstones with straight upper faces. Some of the stones were placed close together with dark well-compacted soil between them. The wall was set on a layer of tamped earth mixed with small fieldstones (L112; thickness 0.45 m) laid on top of the bedrock. The wall was superimposed by a layer of accumulated soil containing numerous collapsed stones (L102; Fig. 3).
Wall 52 ran parallel and in proximity to the northwestern edge of an ancient reservoir (1–6 m, depending on its water level). This reservoir was built within the drainage basin of the streambed and was used during the Ottoman period and British Mandate era (Daniel 2008). Perhaps, the wall served a ledge along the ancient margins of the reservoir, whose waters lapped the wall’s southern face.
Stratum I. A wall (W50; Fig. 4) built of small and medium-sized basalt fieldstones and preserved to a height of two courses (0.4 m) was revealed in the northeast of the excavation area. The wall’s southern part widened slightly where a partially preserved corner was noted. However, no remains of an adjoining wall were found. Meager remains of a tamped earthen floor (L108) were uncovered on the wall’s western side. They were set on a bedding of dark coarse-grained soil and variably-sized stones (L106; thickness 0.3 m) deposited on bedrock (L111). Approximately 4 m west, a section of another wall (W51) was found, whose elevation and construction method were very similar to those of Wall 50. Although no architectural connection was observed between the two walls, they were attributed to the same stratum and may have even been part of a single structure that postdated Wall 52.
The pottery from Strata II and I date from the Hellenistic period (third–first centuries BCE) and consists mainly of bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), jars (Fig. 5:3–6) and a red-slipped oil lamp (Fig. 5:7).
Ben-David H. 1998. Oil Presses and Oil Production in the Golan in the Mishnaic and Talmudic Periods. ‘Atiqot 34:1–61 (Hebrew).
Epstein C. and Guttman S. 1972. The Survey in the Golan Heights. In M. Kochavi ed. Judaea, Samaria and the Golan: Archaeological Survey in 1967–1968. Jerusalem. Pp. 244–295 (Hebrew).
Schumacher G. 1888. The Jaulan. London.
Sussman Y. 1975. The Inscription in the Synagogue at Rehob. Qadmoniot 4(32):123–128 (Hebrew).
Urman D. 1985. The Golan: A Profile of a Region during the Roman and the Byzantine Periods (BAR Int. S. 269). Oxford.
Weksler-Bdolah S. 2000. An Excavation at Tel Nov. ‘Atiqot 39:13*–26* (Hebrew; English summary, pp. 194–196).