The excavation area, located in the northwestern part of Rosh Ha-‘Ayin, c. 10 m west of the Naal Raba riverbed, is characterized by hard dark clayey alluvial soil. The site was first excavated in 1952 when two settlement layers of the Chalcolithic period were uncovered (Kaplan 1958). The upper stratum comprised a rectangular structure attributed to the Ghassulian culture, whereas the lower stratum comprised a structure assigned to the Wadi Rabah culture. Additionally, finds of the Pottery Neolithic period (Yarmukian and Jericho IX cultures) were also found (for periodic and cultural terminologies, see Getzov, Milevski and Khalaily 2019: Table 1). Two other excavations were conducted in the immediate vicinity of the current one (Fig. 1:1, 2; Permit No. A-5579). They uncovered remains of walls, circular stone-paved installations, and habitation levels containing pottery, flint and stone tools attributed to Jericho IX culture of the Pottery Neolithic period, the Wadi Rabah culture of the Early Chalcolithic period and the Ghassulian culture of the Late Chalcolithic period.
The surface level (thickness c. 1 m) was removed prior to the manual excavation. Two squares were opened (50 sq m; K5, K6; each 4 × 4 m; Figs. 2–4), and three phases were discerned. The earlier two (III, II) consisted of earth and stone surfaces that produced pottery, flint tools, several stone tools and a few animal bones, whereas the late phase (I) included a wall and a pit, as well as pottery and flint artifacts. Most of the excavation finds are attributed to the Jericho IX, pre-Ghassulian and Ghassulian cultures. The excavation also yielded a few finds of the Wadi Rabah culture. Generally stated, the remains were poorly preserved, and postdepositional processes rendered the distinction of phases and their dates difficult. It is also possible that some of the mixtures of finds can be attributed to the site’s occupants reusing its various features.
Phase III. In Sq K6, light brown sandy soil (L307) with potsherds and flints was observed. The sediment differs significantly from that in the overlying layers.
Phase II. The sandy soil in Sq K6 was superimposed by a stone surface (L303; Fig. 5) rich in pottery and flint, probably a habitation level. Its southern part featured an eastward slope, producing a c. 0.4 m elevation difference between its western and eastern ends. The northern part of the surface is inclined to the north and east. A section dug in the lower part of the surface showed that it was 0.4 m thick (Fig. 4: Section 3–3) and that the frequency of the finds decreased toward the bottom. The dismantling of the surface produced numerous potsherds and various flint items, predominantly micro-drills.
Phase I. The base of a wall (W304/W305; length c. 3.5 m; Fig. 6) was uncovered in Sq K5, c. 1 m below the surface and above the level of L303. The wall extended into the western section, and its upper part was not preserved. Perhaps, it collapsed southward, where scattered stones were found (L308). Potsherds and flint items were found at the base of a probe (L311) dug in W304. A trial trench dug before the excavation cut the wall and found beneath it a potsherd-lined pit (L310; Fig. 4: Section 2–2). Significantly, the elevations of both Wall 304/305 and Pit 310 were higher than those of Surface 303, suggesting they postdate it.
Pottery. The assemblage from the excavation includes c. 60 diagnostic pottery sherds dating from the Pottery Neolithic to the Late Chalcolithic periods: Jericho IX, Wadi Rabah, pre-Ghassulian and Ghassulian cultures (Figs. 7, 8). Given the absence of coherent assemblages that can be specifically attributed to each culture, presented here are several diagnostic specimens. Specimens attributable to the Jericho IX culture are knob handles (Fig. 8:6, 7); items attributable to the Wadi Rabah culture include holemouth jars with flat inwardly inclined rims (Fig. 7:5, 6), one of which has a black burnished rim, and strap handles (Fig. 8:8–10); and specimens attributable to the Ghassulian culture include a krater (Fig. 7:4) with flat rim, a jar (Fig. 7:7), a pedestal (Fig. 8:4), and a pierced lug handle with a triangular section (Fig. 8:12).
Flint Finds. The assemblage comprises 19 cores and 39 tools. The raw material of the cores varies, and its quality is irregular. In some cores, calcareous nodules were noted, implicating less durable, lower-quality items. The cores were extensively exploited and bear scars in multiple directions. Most are flake and flakelet cores, while some also bear bladelet scars (Fig. 9:1, 2). One unique item in the assemblage is a blade core (Fig. 9:3). The observation that most cores were used to produce flakes is supported by the 4:1 flake-to-blade debitage ratio.
However, among the tools, blades constitute the more dominant component (64%), suggesting they may have been produced elsewhere. The most common tool in the assemblage is the micro-drill (N=9; 23.1%; average length 2 cm, average width 1 cm; Fig. 10:1–6) with an abrupt retouch on both edges. On some items, the retouch continues to the tool’s proximal end and forms a point (Fig. 10:1, 3, 4), while others appear to have a truncated proximal end (Fig. 10:2, 5, 6). A single standard-sized drill was also found (Fig. 10:7). Interestingly, most drills were found in Stone Surface 303 in Sq K6. Other tools include backed bladelets (N=4) also recovered from L303, delicately retouched bladelets (N=9; Fig. 10:8, 9) retrieved from various parts of the site, and sickle blades (N=4; Fig. 10:10–13): three from Sq K6, probably its lower sections and one (Fig. 10:12) from the topsoil layer in Sq K5. Notably, three blades (Fig. 10:10–12) are attributed to the Wadi Rabah culture, and one (Fig. 10:13) is attributed to the Jericho IX culture. Less common tools include truncates with ventral retouch (Fig. 11:1) or retouched edges (Fig. 11:2), a scraper (Fig. 11:3), a notch (Fig. 11:4) and an awl (Fig. 11:5).
Stone Items. Five stone tools made of river pebbles or light-colored limestone were found. The items are relatively large (length and width 5–10 cm) and include an adze made of a river pebble (Fig. 12:1), two stone flakes (Fig. 12:2, 3) and a chopper made of a limestone pebble (Fig. 12:4).
The current excavation indicates that this part of the site was also inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period and in the various phases of the Chalcolithic period. Furthermore, the excavation lent additional support for the existence of the Wadi Rabah settlement at the site, first revealed by Kaplan. The drills concentration in L303 suggests that a drill-production workshop or, alternatively, an industry that used these tools, such as a bead industry, may have operated at the site.