In August 2015, tombs damaged during the installation of a water pipeline were documented north-west of Horbat Hoga (map ref. 16380/60217; Fig. 1). The tombs were documented by S. Ganor, O. Shmueli (field photography) and M. Oron (drafting) on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority.
The tombs were dug in the loess in an east–west direction and were lined and covered with dressed stone slabs, which were only partially preserved. The tombs differ from each other in their building method and hence may represent different phases of the cemetery. No bones or other finds were discovered in the tombs but pottery sherds from the Byzantine period, including fragments of a Gaza Ware jar (below, Tomb 4), were found alongside them. Cist tombs are characteristic of burials in the western Negev and Be’er Sheba‘ during the Byzantine period (see for example, Gilʽad and Fabian, 2008
Tomb 1 (outer dimensions 1.1 × 1.9 m, inner width 0.55 m). Only a single in situ chalk slab (0.3 × 0.5 × 1.1 m) was preserved from the covering of the tomb. The sides of the tomb were apparently unlined.
Tomb 2 (inner width c. 0.4 m). Two kurkar slabs from the sides and a single kurkar slab (0.3 × 0.5 × 1.1 m) from the covering (Fig. 3) survived in the eastern part of the tomb (width c. 0.4 m).
Tomb 3. Fragments of two thin chalk slabs (thickness c. 7 cm) were preserved.
Tomb 4 (1.0 × 1.9 m) sustained practically no damage from the work conducted there. Only the upper portion of the tomb’s covering stones was exposed (Fig. 4). The tomb was covered with kurkar slabs, which included two large rectangular slabs (c. 0.5 × 1.0 m) and smaller square slabs in between. Fragments of an in situ Gaza Ware jar were discovered in the western part of the tomb, next to the covering slabs; the jar may have been intact before the tomb was damaged.
Tomb 5. Only a few broken kurkar stones were preserved, which were probably part of the covering of the tomb.
Tomb 6. The center of the tomb was damaged. Several kurkar slabs survived from the tomb’s covering. It was apparently similar in size and construction to Tomb 4.
Gil‘ad Y. and Fabian P. 2008. 7,000 Years of Settlement: The Archaeological Remains in Be’er Sheva‘ from the Sixth Millennium BCE until the End of the First Millennium CE. In Y. Gradus and E. Meir-Glitzenstein eds. Beer Sheva: Metropolin Be-Hithavut. Jerusalem. Pp. 303–331 (Hebrew).
Gophna R. 1970. Sites from the Iron Age II in Southern Philistia. ʽAtiqot 6:25–30 (Hebrew).
Huster Y., Master D.M., Pierce G.A. and Press M.D. 2015. Ashkelon 5: The Land Behind Ashkelon. Indiana.
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