During July 2003 a limited excavation was conducted in the southern part of the Peqi‘in village (Permit No. A-3950; map ref. NIG 2312/7640; OIG 1812/2640), in the wake of damage to a prehistoric settlement caused by digging foundations for a building. In addition, a survey was conducted to define the ancient settlement area in Peqi‘in (Fig. 1). The excavation and survey, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority, were directed by N. Getzov, with the assistance of A. Grishna (registration), H. Tahan (drawing), M. Smilanski (flint drawing) and R. Getzov (GPS surveying). Y. Lerer, F. Abu Zidan and R. Getzov participated in the survey.
Three strata were revealed; the two bottom strata (III and II) dated to the Late Chalcolithic period and the upper stratum (I) was from Early Bronze IA.
Stratum III. A single course of a wall (W16; Fig. 2), built of large ashlar stones, was exposed on virgin soil. A pavement (L18; 547.07 m above sea level) composed of small stones, numerous potsherds and flint items abutted the top of the wall from the east.
Stratum II. This stratum consisted of an accumulation, surmounted by a pavement (547.38 m above sea level) that was similar to the one in L18.
Stratum I. An accumulation of soil and stones superposed by a pavement of small stones (547.70 m above sea level) was exposed. Above this layer was a deposit of alluvium (0.8 m thick) that did not yield any significant archaeological finds.
The finds from Strata III and II, which should be ascribed to the Late Chalcolithic period, included potsherds that are characteristic of the Galilee and are mostly are slipped red, as well as several vessels of the Golan pottery tradition. Among the artifacts recovered from Stratum I were residual potsherds from previous strata and a few potsherds that can be ascribed to Early Bronze IA, including gray-burnished vessels.
Four plots with artifacts from the Chalcolithic period and the Early Bronze Age were discerned in the survey; no artifacts were found in five other plots. The prehistoric settlement at Peqi‘in is estimated to have covered an area of c. 100 dunams (c. 200 × 600 m). It is impossible to assess whether the settlement was densely built or if groups of buildings within it were spread out some distance from each other. Nevertheless, it should be noted that the artifacts recovered from the four plots were from the two settlement periods found in the excavation.
Early Bronze II potsherds were collected from farming terraces near the tomb of Rabbi Yosey and ‘En Yosey, which lie beyond the limits of the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze IA settlement, on the slope below the ancient core of the village. A settlement had probably been established there.
The excavation and survey indicate that a large protohistoric settlement existed in the eastern part of the Peqi‘in Valley during the Late Chalcolithic period and the beginning of the Early Bronze Age.
The discovery of the Chalcolithic settlement significantly contributes to the interpretation of the finds from the large burial cave excavated on the other side of Nahal Peqi‘in, c. 400 m outside the limits of the settlement (ESI 16:22–24). During Early Bronze II a new settlement was established on a higher terrace beyond the boundaries of the previous one.