The site is located on a hill, known locally as Giv‘at Oranim, in the northern part of Kefar Veradim, separating the southern part of Maʻalot from Tarshiha and c. 100 m to the northeast of Khirbat ed-Dabsha (Fig. 1). The site was surveyed and first identified during the Upper Galilee site survey (Frankel et. al 2001:26, Site 169). Prior to construction, an additional, development survey of the hill was conducted in 2010, resulting in the identification of sixteen find-spots (“antiquities sites”) on the hill (Lerer 2012), including architectural remains and potsherds dating from two distinct periods: the Intermediate Bronze Age (IBA) and the Ottoman period. The survey was followed in December 2010 by a small-scale trial directed by G.B. Jaffe (Permit No. A-6072).
The current excavation extended over 1000 sq m (Fig. 2) on three natural bedrock terraces on the lower western slope of the hill, revealing well-preserved architectural remains associated with two strata, from the IBA (Stratum II) and the Ottoman period (Stratum I).
Stratum II — The Intermediate Bronze Age. The excavation uncovered almost in its entirety a single, large multiroom domestic structure (20 × 30 m; Fig. 3). The structure comprised at least 14 rooms arranged on the three natural terraces, and it was surrounded by open activity areas. The rooms were covered by a massive collapse of building stones from the toppled walls that sealed the in situ artifacts that lay on and immediately above the bedrock floors (Fig. 4).
The walls of the structure were founded directly on the bedrock, without foundation trenches, and as they were constructed in accordance with the slope’s angle they are not always entirely straight and many of the corners were rounded. The walls’ lower courses were built as a single row of larger rectangular or squarish stones, whereas their superstructure comprised courses of very large lightly worked limestone slabs. No mud-bricks or mud-brick debris were found above the floors or in the collapse, which together with the massive stone collapse suggest the exclusive use of stone for construction material.
The rooms, varying in size and plan, include both small, square rooms and several broadrooms. In one such large broadroom (c. 3 × 8 m), on the lower terrace, two pillar bases lay directly on the bedrock floor, suggesting the use of wooden pillars to support the roof of this large room as well as in the other similarly large broadrooms in the structure. Storage installations were identified in room corners; they were closed off by a built wall, and some had storage jars. One of the rooms contained three pithoi, of which at least one was set into a rock-hewn pit to stabilize its round base, thus installing it as a stationary storage installation (Fig. 5); once restored, this pithos had a capacity of 510 liters (Fig. 6). The room with the three pithoi is an indication both of the large quantities of storage goods available to this household and of a planned designation of space for such storage.
Two types of cooking installations were identified in the structure: paved areas designated for cooking (‘cooking floors’), and elevated cooking platforms that utilized the level bedrock. Cooking pots and large amounts of charcoaled wood and acorns were found in association with these installations. Radiocarbon samples of some charcoaled remains were dated to the 23rd century BCE (Lev et al. 2021: Table 1). Several stepped bedrock surfaces within the structure served as worktables for grinding, as indicated by the basalt grinding stones found on them.
Bedrock surfaces surrounding the structure were identified as activity zones. Several depressions or cupmarks, which were probably used as mortars for pounding, were hewn into the bedrock surface to the west of the structure on the lower terrace.
The pottery assemblage comprises almost exclusively vessels for the preparation of food and for storage: cooking pots, pithoi and storage jars; and a few chipped limestone discs that evidently served as stoppers for storage jars. The assemblage contains almost no serving vessels, such as bowls, holemouths or spouted vessels. However, potsherd belonging to closed serving vessels of the non-local Black Wheel-Made Ware (BWMW) were retrieved. The assemblage is typical of the western Galilee, as exemplified by the flattened finger-impressed bands on the pithoi. Additional finds included a carved bone handle (Fig. 7) for a copper-alloy awl, two more such awls, a bronze bracelet and flint sickle blades, as well as basalt and limestone mortars and grinding implements.
Stratum I — Ottoman Period. Architectural remains of a single building were found directly above the stone collapse of the Stratum I structure (Fig. 8). Among the features of this structure were pillar bases, a stone-built staircase and well-preserved walls, one of which had an entrance. The building was dated according to the Rashaya el-Fukhar potsherds found in it.
The development survey (Lerer 2012) and the excavations at Kefar Veradim provided a unique opportunity to investigate a hillside site in the western Galilee. The Intermediate Bronze Age (Stratum II) multiroom structure was apparently a farmstead. Although no distinct phases of construction were detected in the structure, it is probable that rooms were added according to the needs of its inhabitants. Two stone heaps c. 100 m east of the excavated structure may be the remains of similar structures. It thus seems that the IBA settlement comprised a few multiroom farmsteads dispersed over the hill. As the excavated structure represents about a third of this rural IBA site, it is the most extensively excavated site of its kind in the upper Western Galilee (Covello-Paran 2020). The retrieval of material-culture markers, such as the BWMW, along with radiocarbon dated material, enable us to date this settlement to the second half of the Intermediate Bronze Age (Lev et al. 2021). The structure was abandoned at the end of the period, as the settlement in the following Middle Bronze Age shifted to the adjacent site of Khirbat ed-Dabsha. The site was resettled only in the late Ottoman period (the nineteenth century CE).