In September 2015, a trial excavation took place in Kafr Kanna (Permit No. A-7525; map ref. 232107–166/738667–720), following the exposure of stones and pottery sherds in trial trenches dug in a private building plot, prior to construction. The excavation, on behalf of the Israel Antiquity Authority, was directed by E. Bron (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Ya‘akobi (administration), Y. Harel (trial trenches), H. Tahan-Rosen (pottery drawing), M. Smilanski (flint drawing), K. Covello-Paran (scientific guidance) and A. Shapiro (GPS).
The plot was situated c. 200 m east of the spring (Fig. 1). Over the past twenty years, several excavations carried out in the vicinity of the spring uncovered remains from the Early Bronze Age IA. The most significant one was carried out by H. Smithline in a nearby plot to the east, where settlement remains and a massive fortification wall were discovered (A-5346, A-5566; Fig. 1:1). Other remains from this period include rock hewn installations and a burial cave to the northeast of the fortification (Covello-Paran 2015a
[Fig. 1:2]; Covello-Paran 2015b
[Fig. 1:3]), as well as building remains to their south (Be‘eri 2015
[Fig. 1:4]), southwest (Covello-Paran 2013
[Fig. 1:5]), west (A-4695, A-4972 [Fig. 1:6]) and northwest (van den Brink 2019
[Fig. 1:7]; A-6723 [Fig. 1:8]; A-4977 [Fig. 1:9]). All these excavations have led to the understanding that there was a large, fortified EB IA settlement at Kafr Kanna.
The current excavation comprised a single square, exposing a thick layer of dark brown soil and modern construction waste down to the bedrock surface (L100; Fig. 2). No architectural remains were uncovered. Several pottery sherds and flint tools were retrieved in this layer, although not in a stratified context.
The pottery sherds are storage, cooking and table wares. There are several holemouth jars with a variety of rims: one holemouth jar has an elevated rim, a shallow rope decoration and an orange grain-washed slip (Fig. 3:4); another has an inward folded rim and a gray grain-washed slip on the exterior (Fig. 3:5); and a third has an elevated squared-off rim and an orange grain-washed slip (Fig. 3:6). The storage jars also exhibit some variety: some jars are short-necked, with a rope decoration and a brown-orange slip (Fig. 3:7, 8); other jars are straight-necked, with a thick orange and brown slip (Fig. 3:9, 10); and one jar has an outward-folded rim, a shallow rope decoration and an orange slip (Fig. 3:11). The Gray Burnished Ware (GBW) includes bowls and jars. The well-levigated bowls are noteworthy, exhibiting either a glossy gray surface (Fig. 3:1) or a bright yellowish burnished surface (Fig. 3:2). A small rim fragment (Fig. 3:12) with a similar contour to GBW jars is made of a coarser ware and has a rather matt, dark brown slip; it is probably a local imitation.
An early type of GBW carinated bowl body sherd (Fig. 3:3), a small bow-rim of a jug with a matt orange and yellow slip (Fig. 3:13), a brownish orange grain-wash slipped jug base (Fig. 3:14) and a ledge handle fragment (Fig. 3:15)—all pinpoint the date of the ceramic assemblage clearly within the EB IA period. No pottery sherds from later phases of the Early Bronze Age were encountered.
The flint tools are agricultural or domestic implements. These include sickle blades (Fig. 4:1, 2), a retouched blade with abrupt retouch at the point (Fig. 4:3), a Canaanite blade with shallow denticulation on the active side (Fig. 4:4), a blade triangular in section with a retouched notch at the tip (Fig. 4:5) and a borer tip exhibiting pressured retouch (Fig. 4:6).
The plot where the excavation took place had obviously been dug up and refilled mechanically, leaving no in situ remains. Nonetheless, the EB 1A pottery as well as the flint tools suggest that the settlement of that period extended to the excavated area, north of the fortification wall. The absence of any later Early Bronze finds may suggest that no structures were built over the EB 1A remains in this area during the remainder of the Early Bronze Age. Future excavations in adjacent, undamaged plots may substantiate this understanding.
Be’eri R. 2015. Kafr Kanna. HA-ESI 127.
Brink E.C.M. van den. 2019. Kafr Kanna. HA-ESI 131.
Covello-Paran K. 2013. Kafr Kanna. HA-ESI 125.
Covello-Paran K. 2015a. Kafr Kanna (A). HA-ESI 127.
Covello-Paran K. 2015b. Kafr Kanna (B). HA-ESI 127.