In April–May 2014, an excavation was conducted along the northeastern slopes of Tel Zanoah (Permit No. A-7110; map ref. 200539–613/625581–658), prior to the installation of a water pipeline. The excavation, undertaken by the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by Y. Paz, with the assistance of A. Melman and D. Dmitriev, N. Nahama (administration), A. Hajian, M. Kunin and M. Kahan (surveying), D. Porotzki (plans), I. Lidski-Reznikov (pottery drawing), S. Gendler and P. Betzer.
The excavation area (Fig. 1) was located on the northeastern slopes of Tel Zanoah
, which were documented in the past in the survey of the Map of Nes Harim (Weiss et. al. 2005
: Site 85) and in several small excavations carried out in its immediate vicinity (Dagan 2010
: Site 157.1).
The excavation was conducted after remains of field walls, which crossed the area in a general north–south direction, were revealed in trial sections. In addition, it was intended to examine an ancient road aligned in a general east–west direction and visible in the area which led to Tel Zanoah. Due to the paucity of finds, it was impossible to determine with certainty when the walls or the road were constructed.
Five squares were opened to the north and south of the planned route of the water pipeline. The bedrock throughout the excavation area was extremely close to the surface, and the accumulated fill usually did not exceed a depth of 0.5 m.
The ancient road (width c. 5 m) that probably led to Tel Zanoah was exposed in the southern square. It was delimited by two parallel curbs (W107, W108; Figs. 2–4, 10) founded on alluvium. The curbs were built of boulders generally arranged in a single row. A surface built of small stones (L103) extending between the curbs served as a pavement. No datable finds were discovered on the surface or between the stones of the walls which could assist in determining the date of road’s construction. The fill (L104) between the road pavement and the bedrock was examined in a probe excavated in the eastern part of the square. Light brown soil was found that contained small stones; pottery sherds from the Iron Age, including a krater (Fig. 5:1) and a holemouth (Fig. 5:2); and jars from the Roman–Byzantine period (Fig. 5:3–5). Other sherds discovered in the fill are of uncertain date: a base of a jar or jug (Fig. 5:6), a jar handle (Fig. 5:7) and a spout of a Gaza-ware vessel (Fig. 5:8). The accumulation that predated the construction of the road was discovered only in this spot.
Two segments of a long field wall (W109; min. length 30 m; Fig. 6, 7) were excavated to the north of the road; the walls and road might have been contemporary. The wall is oriented in a general north–south direction and built of boulders of various sizes in a variety of construction methods. The wall was haphazardly built on brown alluvial fill that covered the bedrock (L106). A wall (W111; Fig. 8) exposed to the north consisted of two sections as well: a northern and a southern one. Its northern part had two courses with the lower course founded on bedrock, whereas the southern part was a single course set on alluvial fill deposited on bedrock (L102). Tiny potsherds and two iron nails that were discovered in the excavation area are of no aid in dating the walls.
A section of another wall (W110; Fig. 9) was found inside a deep bedrock pocket that sloped eastward, c. 10 m east and parallel to W111. It was constructed of two to four courses of medium-sized stones and an overlying course of larger stones. The finds in and around the wall were meager; thus, the wall could not be dated.
The excavation area at the foot of Tel Zanoah yielded sections of walls related to local agricultural activity. An additional find, and of particular interest, is a segment of an ancient road that led to the tell. The road was mapped by means of an RTK instrument over more than 100 m (Fig. 10). It was evidently used by the local inhabitants to pass between cultivation plots. Rock-hewn installations, winepresses and cupmarks were discovered along its route (Fig. 11). It was apparent that the road was severed where there were concentrations of installations, but the road continued beyond these clusters. The meager finds collected in the excavation were insufficient for dating the road and the field walls.
Dagan Y. 2010. Ramat Bet Shemesh Regional Project: The Gazetteer
(IAA Reports 46). Jerusalem.
Weiss D., Zissu B. and Solimany G. 2005. Map of Nes Harim (104) (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.