During May 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted at Kh. Janba (Permit No. A-4795; map ref. NIG 21375–400/58525; OIG 16375–400/08525), in the wake of a survey along the route of the separation fence that exposed a concentration of flint and stone artifacts. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Defense, was directed by E. Aladjem (photography), with the assistance of K. Golan and S. Gendler (area supervision) and V. Esmann and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting).
The site is located southeast of Kh. Janba, on the southern slope of a hill. The artifacts, discovered to the southeast of the hill’ top together with earthen pockets and several cupmarks, were washed over the natural rock surface. Flat plains, damaged by modern agricultural plowing, were to the east and south of the slope, as well as a dense concentration of flint artifacts.
Three areas were opened in the excavation: Area A, on the southern slope of the hill; Area B, on a flat plain at the southern foot of the hill and Area C, on a flat plain at the top of the hill to the east. The earth from the excavation was sieved and all flint artifacts were collected. The finds included flakes, retouched bladelets, cores and lunates, dating to the Ramonian (13,500 BCE) and Natufian (14,000–12,000 BCE) periods.
Area A is characterized by exposed rock surfaces and earth pockets between them (Fig. 1). A large quantity of cupmarks was discovered at the top of the hill, north of Area A (Fig. 2). Therefore, it seems that the flint artifacts were not in situ, but rather washed over. Apart from two soundings (max. depth 0.3 m), the depth of the excavation ranged from 0.1 to 0.5 m. The most common tools within the flint artifacts, which indicated the existence of a microlithic industry, were retouched flakes and bladelets. Microburin technique was used at the site, mostly for the production of Ramon points and long lunates with abrupt back retouch.
The excavation in this area (12 sq m) revealed the lowest concentration of flint artifacts, indicating this area may have been at the outskirts of the site. Preliminary processing of the material showed the same characteristics as exhibited in Area A and likewise, the finds were washed over from the top of the hill.
Area C contained a large concentration of flint artifacts, as well as several basalt and limestone pestles. The prehistoric living surface appears to have been at the same elevation as the modern-day surface. A pit, related to the prehistoric surface and not disturbed by recent activity, was excavated (Figs. 3, 4). An ash layer in the pit (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.2 m) contained translucent flint chips and three Ramon points. The flint tools from Area C were indicative of a flake and bladelet industry. The most common types were bladelets, blades, microburins, retouched flakes and long lunates modified by abrupt retouch.
The numerous flint implements evidence the existence of a large Natufian and Ramonian-Mushabian sites in the environs of Kh. Janba. The flint assemblage included elongated lunates that point to the Natufian period.In addition, the Ramon points in Area C could indicate an occupation of the site, whose scope is unknown, during the Ramonian-Mushabian period.
A number of Natufian sites to the north of Kh. Janba were surveyed by F. Valla, O. Bar-Yossef and Y. Gilead during the early 1970s. Those sites (Sansana 1, Ira 15 and Lehavim 2), found washed out from their original location, contained rock-cut cupmarks, similar to the ones in our site. Of the known Natufian and possibly Ramonian sites in this area, our site represents the southernmost settlement during this period.