During July–August 2006, a trial excavation was conducted at the site of Wasset (Permit No. A-4852*; map ref. NIG 2686–7/78273–6; OIG 2186–7/28273–6), in the wake of plans to develop a public park. The excavation, on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by the JNF, was directed by H. Bron, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), V. Pirsky (surveying), M. Hartal (photography and ceramic consultation), H. Tahan (pottery drawing) and workers from the Druze village of Buq‘ata.
Probe trenches that were dug in the area slated for the park exposed antiquities, which called for a trial excavation. The excavation had begun by Y. Alexander who was forced to suspend fieldwork after one day due to the commencement of the Second Lebanon War. Excavation was resumed by the author and occasionally interrupted by the security situation in the region.
The site of Wasset in the northern Golan Height is situated on a basalt plateau, near a crossroad between Moshav Sha‘al and Qibbuz Merom Golan. A small excavation was undertaken at the site in 2005 (Permit No. A-4646) and surveys on and around the site proved that it was inhabited as of the Early Bronze Age until its abandonment in 1967.
Two squares, Sq A1 in the north and Sq A2, 10 m to the south, were opened. Building remains from the Roman period that included walls, floors and a tabun, as well as pottery from the Early Bronze Age and the Hellenistic and Roman periods were discovered in both squares.
Square A1. Three levels were exposed in this square (Fig. 1).
Level 1. A badly preserved wall (W112), oriented north–south, was uncovered within the surface layer. It consisted of two large stones and a door lintel in secondary use (length 1 m) and was preserved 0.4 m high. Potsherds near and around W112 belonged mainly to the Rashaya el-Fukhar ware that came from South Lebanon and dated to the nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE. Wall 112 is therefore a remnant of the Syrian village that existed at the site until 1967.
Level 2. Wall 112 was set directly on top of Wall 102 and used part of it as foundation. Wall 102 (length 3.6 m, width 0.8 m; Fig. 2) ran in a southwest–northeast direction through the center of the square. It was built c. 0.2 m above bedrock of medium-sized fieldstones, placed on their flat side to the north, thus creating a smooth exterior face.
Pottery recovered from both sides of W102 (L105, L106) dated its earliest use to the Early Roman period (bowl, Fig. 3:1). It continued to be in use until the late Roman period (base and rim fragments of jar, Fig 3:2). Due to the small area exposed it was impossible to determine its function.
Level 3. A dark colored layer above bedrock and below W102 contained pottery fragments from Early Bronze II (base of jar and body fragment, Fig. 3:3, 4), although no architectural remains from this period were discovered.
Square A2. Two different occupation layers were discerned in this square (Fig. 4).
Layer 1. An extensive floor (L107) that consisted of pebble-sized stones and abutted Wall 108 was exposed within the surface layer. The entire area was covered with modern debris together with an abundance of mixed potsherds, including rim and bases of bowls (Fig. 5:1–3) and a jar (Fig. 5:4), mainly of the late Roman period, but also fragments of a Persian/Hellenistic jar (Fig 5:5), which point to the span of occupation in this area. Floor 107 and W108 were the remains of the Syrian village that existed at the site until 1967.
Layer 2. Directly underneath Floor 107 were the remains of walls (W109, W110; Fig. 6), a floor and a tabun. It seems that this area represented the northwestern corner of an open courtyard whose floor (L113), composed of compact earth and small stones, survived only by a small fraction in the corner between W109 and W110.
The large tabun (L111; diam. 0.9 m, preserved height 0.4 m; Fig. 7) was placed in the center of the exposed area. It was built of a hardened dark red mud layer set within a circle of stones. The upper part of the tabun was covered with numerous large flat potsherds that belonged to different types of vessels, including a base fragment of a late Roman bowl (Fig. 5:6). This might indicate that the tabun had to withstand high temperatures, which could imply an industrial use, although no refuse was found in or around it. Two flat stones on the east side of the tabun served as a working area.
All the pottery above Floor 113 and on the north side of W109 dated to the late Roman period and included bowls (Fig. 8:1–5), a cooking pot (Fig. 8:6), an amphora base (Fig. 8:7) and jugs (Fig. 8:8, 9), as well as a complete oil lamp (Fig. 8:10) and a basalt loom weight (Fig. 8:11).
Bedrock was not reached in this area and it seems plausible that earlier settlement remains are still present, as also implied by the pottery assemblage that contained potsherds from the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods.
The excavations at Wasset show that the site was occupied during Early Bronze II, although the exact location of the site from this period is still elusive. After a long gap, the site was reoccupied during the Hellenistic period, terminating at the late Roman period, similar to other sites on the northern Golan Height. No evidence to the effect that the site was settled during the Byzantine period was found.
A large part of the ceramic assemblage belonged to the Golan Ware pottery, which indicates that this area of the northern Golan was populated by the Iturean people during the Early and late Roman periods. Further use of the site began during the Mamluk period and continued until recent times (1967).