In August 2013, a trial excavation was conducted c. 350 m northeast of Ras ‘Ali, 200 m north of Nahal Zippori and c. 1 km southwest of ‘Adi (Permit No. A-6879; map ref. 214842–5266/742338–431; Fig. 1), following damage to antiquities during the installation of a water pipeline. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Mekorot Company, was directed by B. Hanna (photography), with the assistance of M. Kahan (surveying), Y. Yaakobi (administration), N. Getzov (pottery reading), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing) and laborers from Nazareth.
The current excavation was conducted in the preserved, northern part (width 5.5 m, depth 3.5 m, height 1.8 m) of a natural cave that was used for habitation during the Pottery Neolithic period. The cave’s roof was mechanically dismantled prior to the excavation, as it was fissured and in an unstable condition. The cave entrance was probably on its southern side, which was damaged during the installation of the pipeline.
The cave was found full of accumulations: upper layers of alluvium deposits overlaying an archaeological accumulation (thickness c. 1 m), which lay on the cave’s floor (Fig. 2). The southern part of the cave’s bedrock floor was leveled, whereas sloped steeply in the northern part of the cave (Fig. 3). The archaeological deposit found the floor—light brown soil (L102)—contained numerous small stones and potsherds, including bowls (Fig. 4:2–4) and jars (Fig. 4:5, 6) dated to the Pottery Neolithic period. This deposition was covered by boulders that collapsed from the roof of the cave, which were overlain with a thick layer of dark brown soil (L101) that contained a Hellenistic bowl fragment and Pottery Neolithic potsherds.
A niche (1.4 m wide, 1 m high, 1.6 m deep; Fig. 5) was discovered in the west wall of the cave. The earth which filled the niche (L104) yielded a large quantity of flint debitage, numerous bowls (Fig. 4:1) and two spindle whorls (Fig. 4:7, 8), all dating from the Pottery Neolithic period.
The excavation results seem to indicate that most of the caves surveyed on the hill were used for habitation in antiquity, probably in the Pottery Neolithic period.
Olami Y. and Gal Z. 2003. Map of Shefar‘am (24) (Archaeological Survey of Israel). Jerusalem.