During July, September and October 2003, two seasons of salvage excavations were conducted at the foot of Tahunat et Tabkha, south of She’ar Yashuv (Permit No. A- 3952; map ref. NIG 26025/79160; OIG 21025/29160), prior to the digging of a drainage channel. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the Mevo’ot Hermon Regional Council, was directed by M. Hartal in the first season and by H. Smithline in the second season, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration) and V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying).
Two squares, revealing six strata, were opened.
Stratum 1. Beneath surface was a layer of gray soil and potsherds that dated to the Middle Bronze Age, Iron Age, Hellenistic period and the Middle Ages, with no building remains, other than a concentration of stones that may have been the remains of a wall in the northern corner of the excavation.
Stratum 2. Part of a courtyard that had a tabun lined with jar fragments was excavated. The courtyard’s northern side was missing and to its north was stone collapse. The ceramic finds in the courtyard and the potsherds that lined the tabun dated the stratum to the Hellenistic period (third century BCE).
Stratum 3. Potsherds from the Persian period (fifth–fourth centuries BCE) were found without any building remains. They included fragments of bowls, cooking pots, jars and lamps. Noteworthy among them was a bronze seal and the head of a ceramic male figurine.
Stratum 4. Potsherds dating to the time of the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel (eighth–seventh centuries BCE), without any building remains, were found. A small Assyrian bowl (Fig. 1) was among the finds.
Stratum 5. A wall build of large stones (width 1 m) and an earthen pavement next to it dating to Iron II (ninth–eighth centuries BCE) were exposed. Numerous cooking-pot fragments were found.
Stratum 6. A bedrock surface was exposed in the eastern square. It was covered with travertine that extended across the area south of the excavation. The surface was severed in the north by a rock-cutting, at least 3 m deep, at whose bottom was a thick layer of clay. This seems to have been part of a water reservoir. A channel that conveyed water to the reservoir was hewn along the bedrock surface. Potsherds dating to Middle Bronze II were recovered from the fill in the reservoir, which was sealed with a thick layer of travertine that had accumulated from water flowing over it and upon which the wall from Stratum 5 was built.
The excavation, undertaken in an area east of the tell, probably lies beyond the limits of the settlement. During Middle Bronze II, bedrock was hewn in preparation for a water reservoir of unknown dimensions, whose depth exceeded 3 m. The reservoir was sealed after it was no longer used. A layer of travertine was deposited by water that flowed over the surface prior to Iron II, at which time a wall, whose function could not be determined, was built on top of the reservoir. During the period of the Assyrian conquest and in the Persian period no construction took place in this area and the pottery vessels found here had probably originated from the layers on the tell. During the Hellenistic period a courtyard with a tabun was built, yet the remains of the building to which it belonged were not discerned within the limited excavation area.