During April–May 2006, a salvage excavation was conducted in Moshav ‘Aminadav (Permit No. A-4782*; map ref. NIG 213253/628665; OIG 163253/128665). The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and sponsored by the moshav, was directed by I. Milevski, with the assistance of R. Abu Halaf (administration), A. Hajian, T. Kornfeld and V. Essman (surveying and drafting), N. Zak (preparation of plans), A. De Groot (pottery), C. Hersch (drawing of finds), G. Solimany, A. Nagorsky and H. Stark (Jerusalem Region).
Tumulus 8 was excavated on a hilltop overlooking Nah
al Refa’im (Fig. 1). The tumulus (30 × 22 × 2.5 m), which was identified by Albright (BASOR
10:1–3) and Amiran (IEJ
8:205–227, No. 8), was damaged on its northwestern side. Tumulus 2 was excavated by Albright; Tumuli 5 and 6 were excavated by Amiran; and Tumulus 4, in ‘Ir Gannim, by G. Barkay, R. Greenberg and G. Cinamon (Tel Aviv
33:229–243); O. Sion (HA/ESI 120
) exposed quarries c. 50 m southwest of Tumulus 8.
In Tumulus 8, two and a half squares (I–III; 4 x 12 m; depth 2.5 m; Figs. 2–4) were excavated to the chalk bedrock, which is covered with a layer of nari. Three phases were discovered in the excavation. Phase C (the earliest) was a terra rossa fill covering bedrock into which cupmarks and traces of quarrying were hewn (Loci 7, 10, 14). The pottery vessels from these loci dated to Iron II. Phase B, the main phase, is the phase associated with the fill of the tumulus, which consisted mostly of various sized quarried undressed stones and a small amount of orange-brown soil (Loci 4, 12, 13). Some of the fill eroded downslope (Loci 6, 11). The shape of the stones and absence of patina indicate that they were probably quarried in the vicinity of the tumulus. Most of the pottery vessels that were found in the fill also date to Iron II. The latest phase, Phase A, consisted of the surface level that was disturbed by a number of trees whose roots penetrated into the tumulus, and by modern debris that was discarded on the tumulus (Loci 1–3) in recent decades.
The Iron II potsherds included bowls with rounded rims treated in the red-slipped and burnished tradition. Bowl shapes included rounded bowls (Fig. 5:1, 2), carinated bowls (Fig. 5:3–5) and straight bowls (Fig. 5:6), most of which have a ring base (Fig. 5:8, 9). Also found were kraters with rims and bases that are similar to the bowls (Fig. 5:7, 10–12), some of which were treated with a light color slip. The storage jar sherds are conspicuous; some of them are bag-shaped with ridged handles (Fig. 6:1) and low thickened rims (Fig. 6:3). A handle that is reminiscent of a lmlk storage jar handle (Fig. 6:4) and a body fragment with a potter’s mark (Fig. 6:2) were found. In addition, holemouth jars with barrel-shaped body (Fig. 6:5, 6) and jugs with a handle attached from the rim to the shoulder and a ring base (Fig. 6:7–10) were also identified.
Most of the vessel types have parallels from sites in Judah and the southern Shephelah. Similar bowls, kraters and jars appeared in Tumuli 5 and 6 and some of these vessels were found in excavations that were conducted around Tumulus 4. The pottery assemblage from Tumulus 8 resembles that from Lakhish Stratum III and, like it, dates to the eighth century BCE.
Tumulus 8 belongs to a group of small tumuli (Nos. 7–11) that were found inside Moshav ‘Aminadav and its environs, unlike the larger groups of tumuli (Nos. 2–6) that were found in the Giv‘at Massu’a and ‘Ir Gannim neighborhoods in which building remains were discerned. Albright, Amiran and Barkay proposed connecting the tumuli to cultic activity and even burials. Nevertheless, it should be noted that all of the tumuli that were excavated and surveyed, including Tumulus 8, were erected in an agricultural region, close to agricultural installations and there is no evidence for burial or cultic practices. Tumulus 8 was built next to a quarry, and it seems that the available quarrying debris was used in its construction. All of the tumuli look out over Nahal Refa¹im and its environs and they constitute landmarks that are visible from afar. According to Greenberg and Cinamon the tumuli in general, and Tumulus 8 in particular, were probably connected to some sort of agricultural activity, or they may possibly have been a means of overseeing or marking areas of agricultural control.