In October 2015, a trial excavation was conducted at Moshav Yesud Ha-Ma‘ala (Permit No. A-7527; map ref. 257329–41/773791–804; Fig. 1), following the discovery of antiquities in a test trench dug prior to the construction of a new house. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by H. Bron (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Yaakobi (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying drafting), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing and plans) and E.C.M. van den Brink (pottery reading).
The excavation (c. 50 sq m), was conducted near the old center of Yesud Ha-Ma‘ala, located in the Hula Valley. Two squares (4 × 4 m each; Figs. 2, 3) were opened, yielding sparse settlement remains of the Early Bronze Age IA ascribed to two strata (II, I); a third strata (III) yielded pottery of this period.
No previous excavations have been conducted within this part of the site. About 250 meters to the northeast of the excavation area are the remains of a building with two rows of columns, which have been excavated in the past; although it was originally identified as a Byzantine-period synagogue, the most clear remains are of a sugar mill from the Mamluk period (Biran and Shoham 1987; for an overview, see Berger, Peterson and Alef 2021
; Fig. 1: A-7530). Further to the northeast, a Late Bronze Age tomb was excavated (Berger 2017
; Fig. 1: A-7649).
Stratum III. At a depth of 2 m, a soft, dark reddish layer (L107) was encountered, containing small stones, pebbles, natural flint fragments and very few pottery sherds, including two rim fragments, on of a Gray Burnished carinated bowl (Fig. 4:1) and the other of a large red-slipped bowl (Fig. 4:2), both from the EB IA. This stratum is a natural accumulation, and the pottery seems to be intrusive from the upper layers.
Stratum II. A layer of gray, loose soil (L105) found directly above L107 included poorly preserved remains of an occupation layer. A very poorly preserved wall segment (W3) was oriented northeast–southwest and constructed of small and medium-sized basalt fieldstones. A floor to its northwest was paved with large and medium-sized fieldstones. A small, circular installation uncovered in the northern corner of the square (L106) contained the fragments of a small jar (Fig 4:7). Didnostic EB IA pottery from Soil Accumulation 105 included a Gray Burnished bowl (Fig. 4:3), two carinated bowls (Fig. 4:4, 5), one of which is Gray Burnished ware (Fig. 4:5), and two fragments of jar shoulders bearing rope decorations (Fig. 4:8, 9). A few, sparse flint items were also found, comprising mainly very small sickle blade fragments (not illustrated).
Stratum I. Two walls constructed of small fieldstones were uncovered near the surface: a northwest–southeast wall (W1) whose central part did not survive, and a curving wall (W2) to its southwest, preserved two courses high. A badly preserved pebble floor (L103; Fig. 5) abutted W2. The damage pattern of the wall and floor and the close proximity of these features to the surface suggest that they were severely damaged by modern ploughs or other agricultural implements. These remains were covered with a reddish topsoil layer (L100) that contained a few the EB IA potsherds, including the rim of a Gray Burnished bowl (Fig. 4:6) and a flat base of a jar (Fig. 4:10).
These remains belonged to an EB IA settlement that lay on the shores of the Hula Lake. Although the remains are sparse, the two strata suggest a long period of occupation, with no traces of activity in either earlier or later periods.
Berger U., Peterson J. and Alef Y. 2021. Yesud Ha-Ma‘ala. HA-ESI 133