Two concentrations of tombs (Area A in the north and Area B in the south; Figs. 1–7) were discovered in the excavation, yielding 18 arcosolium tombs and four tombs whose quarrying was not completed. The tombs, which were partially excavated, were hewn in various directions in the limestone bedrock, and they included a shallow rectangular shaft on either side of which were arcosolia, each containing a rock-cut burial trough (Figs. 8–10). The shaft openings were sealed with either a large, thick slab that was sometimes curved or several smaller slabs that were sometimes affixed to the bedrock with plaster. The ceilings in several of the tombs were not preserved, and it seems that they were removed while preparing for previous excavations (e.g., Figs. 10, 11). The tombs were filled with an accumulation of brown soil, and the artifacts found in them were in an extremely poor state of preservation, largely due to plunder in ancient times.
In Area A, bones representing at least twenty individuals were discovered in nine graves, amounting to at least two inhumations per tomb. Despite the poor state of preservation and the hasty examination of the finds, which had to place in the excavation area, three children (aged 4–5, 4–8, 9–10 years) and sixteen adults — of which two were male and one was a female — were identified.
Human bones were discovered in three tombs in Area B. Only one burial bench was excavated in each tomb. Two of the tombs had a single adult each. In the third tomb were nine individuals. These included three adults—two females and one male—which were placed on the bench, indicating that they were the first to be buried. In addition, there were five children and one fetus; most of them were placed in the upper burial layer, indicating that they were the last to be interred in the tomb. The broad demographic dispersion in such a small sample leads to the conclusion that this was a cemetery for an ordinary civilian population.
Pottery sherds, glassware and a variety of metal artifacts were discovered inside the tombs. Most of the uncovered finds were personal objects of the deceased, such as bracelets and earrings. Noteworthy among them is a cross pendant that was discovered in one of the tombs, and which may allude to the deceased’s religion. Judging by the finds, the burial can be dated to the Byzantine period (late fourth–early fifth century CE).
In addition, several pottery vessels dated to the transition period between the Byzantine and the Umayyad periods (late seventh century CE) and a number of vessels ascribed to the Abbasid period (second half of the eighth century–second half of the tenth century CE) were found inside the tombs.
Tombs whose quarrying had only begun but for unknown reasons was never completed (Fig. 11) were identified in four locations.
The excavated tombs date from the Byzantine period (late fourth century–early fifth century CE) and are part of the necropolis of Horbat Zikhrin. The double arcosolium is a type of tomb that is known from other sites of the Byzantine period in Israel as well. The quarrying of the tombs in the Byzantine period was done in an orderly manner, whereby tombs uniform in size were hewn side by side, without damaging each other. This indicated that the burial at the site was the responsibility of an entity that dealt with the quarrying of the tombs. Few funerary offerings were discovered in the excavated tombs, due to plundering. The pottery vessels from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods may indicate that the tombs were robbed then, or that earlier tombs were used for later burials. This issue will be examined later-on in the research. The results of the excavation and those of previous excavations at the site indicate that the necropolis of Horbat Zikhrin extended south of the settlement, over an area 300 m long.