During June 2011, a trial excavation was conducted at Tel Gat Hefer in Mashad (Permit No. A-6199; map ref. 230135–65/738250–300), prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by G.B. Jaffe (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi and H. ‘Iz ad-Din (administration), A. Hajian and M. Kunin (surveying and drafting), W. Atrash (consultation) and H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing).
Two squares (E1, E2; Figs. 1, 2) were excavated along the western slope of Tel Gat Hefer; architectural remains and numerous potsherds from the Early Bronze, Middle Bronze and Iron Ages were exposed.
Square E1. At a depth of c. 0.5 m below the surface, a large accumulation of pottery fragments was exposed, mostly dating to Early Bronze Age III and some to Middle Bronze Age II, the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age II. Below the potsherd accumulation was a crushed chalk floor (L105; Fig. 3) that apparently extended across the entire area of the square. Excavating a probe in the northern part of the chalk floor (L110) ascertained that the floor (thickness c. 0.1 m) sloped toward the north. Fragments of pottery vessels dating to Early Bronze Age III, Middle Bronze Age II and Iron Age II were discovered in the probe.
Square E2. The top of a wide wall that crossed the square (W109; width c. 2.5 m; Fig. 4) was exposed. Presumably, the northern side of the wall was located beyond the northern boundary of the square. Excavating a probe next to the southern side of W109 (L104, L107; Fig. 5) revealed an accumulation of soil that contained fragments of pottery vessels from Early Bronze Age III, Middle Bronze Age II and Iron Age II. Stones that might be the end of a wall were exposed west of the probe.
The considerable ceramic finds from Squares E1 and E2 were mostly probably swept into the excavation area. These finds, which are contemporary to the finds from the previous excavations, include a bowl (Fig. 6:1), a platter (Fig. 6:2), a holemouth jar (Fig. 6:3) and three jars (Fig. 6:4–6), dating to Early Bronze Age III, three jars (Fig. 6:7–9), dating to Middle Bronze Age II, and a bowl (Fig. 6:10), a cooking pot (Fig. 6:11) and a jar (Fig. 6:12), dating to Iron Age II.
The wide wall exposed in the excavation might be part of the system of fortifications of the city on the tell in Early Bronze Age III and the tamped chalk floor might have been associated with it.