During April 2010, a trial excavation was conducted north of Tel Gush Halav (Permit No. A-5885; map ref. 241604/770132), prior to construction. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by Halul Shadi, was directed by M. Hartal (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), Y. Nemichnitzer (surveying and drafting) and D. Syon (metal detection).
An area (5×5 m, depth 3.8 m; Figs. 1, 2) was dug with a backhoe, and not manually, until the bedrock was reached. Three layers of fill were exposed. The upper layer (0.5 m below the surface) was light colored soil devoid of finds, and in the northern section of the square was a thin layer of stones, without building remains. The middle layer (thickness 1 m) consisted of dark soil without finds. The bottom layer (more than 2 m thick) comprised inclined strata containing stone fragments and potsherds, the overwhelming majority of which dated to the third and fourth centuries CE. The finds resemble those recovered from the adjacent excavations, but there was a larger amount of soil between the stone fragments in this area. Like the finds in the adjacent areas, the accumulation of stones was resting on a horizontal layer of rock. Due to safety constraints, no manual excavation was conducted and finds were taken from the material removed by the backhoe.
The excavation’s findings and its location at the foot of the tell, where the soil with finds from the tell slid downhill and refuse that was discarded on its slopes, corroborate the conclusions of the previous excavations, in which evidence of a landslide that destroyed most of the remains from the Roman period was discovered. It seems that the accumulations of stones and potsherds are a result of a landslide, probably in the wake of an earthquake in the fourth century CE, most likely the one that occurred in 363 CE. Gush Halav is built on fractured limestone bedrock that splits into small pieces. Earthquakes undermine the bedrock and cause landslides. This phenomenon is well-known at Zefat, which is built on this kind of bedrock.