During January–February 2006, a trial excavation was conducted at Horbat Hammim (South) in Modi‘in (Permit No. A-4693; map ref. NIG 19687/64418–25; OIG 14687/14418–25), prior to expanding the Ispro Center. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and funded by A. Noah, was directed by A. Gorzalczany, with the assistance of I. Ohayon (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying and drafting), T. Sagiv (photography), O. Marder (flint implements) and H. Alfredo. Additional assistance was rendered by Y. Dagan, E. Eisenberg, E. van den Brink and I. Milevski.
The site is located northwest of H
orbat Nekhes. Two pairs of excavation squares, revealing building remains and rock-cuttings, dating to Early Bronze IA based on the finds, were opened. Excavations and surveys conducted at the site in recent years exposed settlement remains from Early Bronze I (HA-ESI 119
; Permit Nos. A-3161, A-4310, A-4319, A-4409, A-4415, A-4913).
The Eastern Squares (1, 2). A sequence of three strata (I–III; Fig. 1) was exposed in these squares. A heap of stones (diam. 3 m, height 1.2 m) from stone clearance or the collapse of a building was ascribed to the upper Stratum I. The dismantling of the heap uncovered potsherds from the Early Bronze Age and worn fragments from the Byzantine period, probably ex situ, as well as flakes of poor quality indigenous flint. Stratum II consisted of a brown soil fill that contained ribbed potsherds and separated Stratum I from Stratum III. An especially thick floor (thickness 0.5–0.7 m) of different sized stones (Loci 105, 107; Fig. 2) was exposed in both squares and attributed to Stratum III. Early Bronze IA ceramics were found on the floor, as well as numerous flint flakes and a hearth (L104; diam. 0.7 m; Fig. 3). The possibility that L105 and L107 was not a floor but rather, due to their extreme thickness, the bottom part of the stone heap from Stratum I, was raised. However, it can be negated on account of the hearth and the flint flakes found on the stone floor, as well as the difference in the stone density between the heap and Loci 105 and 107. It should also be noted that similar floors were exposed in previous excavations. Two adjacent walls (W110––exposed length 4.9 m, width 0.4 m; W120––length 3.1 m, width 0.4 m) were also attributed to Stratum III. The walls, oriented southwest–northeast, consisted of a single row of coarsely dressed stones (Fig. 4). Floor 105 abutted W110 on the south and another floor (L119) abutted W120 on the north. A sounding below Floor 107 exposed unstratified brown soil (L112) that extended as far down as bedrock. The sounding below Floor 105 revealed a layer of packed stones (L113) directly beneath it, which were smaller than the stones of Floor 105. Layer 113 abutted the bottom part of W100 and its continuation was discerned in the eastern section of the excavation, where ash was evident. It seems that Layer 113 was an occupation level that should be ascribed to the first phase of the settlement at the site, whereas Floors 105 and 107 were a renovation of this level. Wall 110 apparently continued to be used during the entire period. Below Layer 113 was a soil fill that reached bedrock (L114) and contained fragments of pottery vessels from Early Bronze IA.
The Western Squares (3, 4; Fig. 5). An elliptical rock-cutting (L108), which contained Early Bronze IA pottery, was exposed in the eastern of the two squares. A circular rock-hewn pit (L109; diam. 0.9–1.2 m, depth 0.9 m; Fig. 6), which contained numerous potsherds of Early Bronze IA date, was uncovered in the western square. To the north of Pit 109 were three flat stones and a pavement of small stones (L118) on which signs of a fire were visible. A rectangular rock-cutting (L115; 0.5 × 0.7 m) was discerned south of Pit 109 and beyond the limits of the excavation. To its east was an elliptical cupmark (0.25 × 0.50 m, depth 7 cm) that whether it is natural or hewn, is unclear.
The assemblage of artifacts recovered from the site included a large quantity of flint flakes, flint cores and a few flint tools, including a hammer stone and a fan scraper. The ceramic finds included jar rims, bowls and ledge handles from Early Bronze I. Most of the pottery vessels were made of light color, coarse, unlevigated clay that contained numerous inclusions; on several of the vessels were traces of red painting. The potsherds bore characteristics of the Chalcolithic-period ceramic tradition and it therefore seems that the site should be dated to the transition phase from the Chalcolithic period to Early Bronze IA. Following the abandonment of the site, no further activity occurred until the Byzantine period.