During July–August 2009, a salvage excavation was conducted at the main entrance to Bir el-Maksur (Permit No. A-5706; map ref. 220326–565/742102–323; Fig. 1), prior the expension of Highway 79. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the National Roads Authority, was directed by A. Yaroshevich (field photography), with the assistance of Y. Lavan (administration), R. Mishayev (surveying and drafting) and A. Shapiro (GPS).
The excavation was carried out east of Highway 79, along the southern bank of Nahal Shevor that flows from northeast to southwest. The site was discovered during road-widening work when an extremely rich horizon of flint items was exposed beneath a layer of alluvium (thickness c. 1. 5 m). Three excavation areas (A–C; Fig. 2) were opened along the route where the road was to be widened and two squares (2×2 m) were excavated in each area.
Area A. A sequence of three strata was exposed. The upper layer comprise dark brown alluvium containing flint artefacts in low-medium density (max. thickness c. 2 m). The middle layer is dark clay sediment (thickness c. 0.3 m) with numerous knapped flint items mixed with small limestone boulders (Fig. 3). The bottom layer, soft lime bedrock, contained knapped flint items and flint nodules embedded in its upper part.
Area B. A deposition sequence similar to that exposed in Area A was revealed; however, the middle layer is rich in flint artefacts, appeared, appeared on an additional layer of brown alluvium situated above the soft lime bedrock (Fig. 4).
Area C. This area was severely damaged during the construction works when only a thin layer (thickness c. 0.1 m; Fig. 5) of clay sediment rich in flint was left intact. Similarly to Area A, the upper part of the soft lime bedrock contained knapped flint artefacts and nodules as deep as c. 0.2 m into the layer.
Two flint industries were identified. The dominant one is characterized by a high frequency items made in Levallois technique – a feature—characteristic of the Middle Paleolithic Mousterian culture (c. 250,000–50,000 YBP; Figs. 6, 7); the items in all the excavation areas were slightly abraded and patinated. The second industry is characterized by production of blades and bladelets, with the items much less abraded and bearing no patina. This industry constitutes c. 5% of the assemblage and is ascribed to later periods, from the Upper Paleolithic until the early Neolithic periods (HA-ESI 123
The location of the site in the stream channel, the topographical characteristics of its surroundings and the physical condition of the predominant assemblage show that the site represents a secondary deposition of items that had been swept away from their original knapping location.
It should be noted that sites dated to the Middle Paleolithic and Neolithic periods are known in the region of Nazareth (HA-ESI 122; Ekshtein 2012). In addition, site dated to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period located on the opposite site of the Highway 79 down the Nahal Shavor stream has been recently excavated (HA-ESI 123).