In May 2014, a trial excavation was conducted south of Moshav Zanoah (Permit No. A-7137; map ref. 200422–559/625667–716; Fig. 1), prior to the installation of a water pipeline. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, was directed by N. Ben-Ari (field photography), with the assistance of A. Melman (preliminary inspections), M. Kahan and A. Marco (surveying and drafting), N. Zak (plans) and I. Lidsky-Reznikov (pottery drawing). Additional assistance was rendered by D. Ben-Ami, Y. Paz, S. Gendler and R. Greenwald.
Area A. Two excavation squares (A1, A2; Fig. 3) were opened where ancient walls were discovered during the preliminary inspection. Toppled stones (L107; Fig. 4) in Sq A1 probably collapsed from a field wall. Beneath them was a layer of light colored soil (L104) overlying white chalk bedrock. Pottery sherds from this square date mostly from the Byzantine period; these included a bowl (Fig. 5:4) and a jar (Fig. 5:5). Sherds that date to the Iron Age II, such as a bowl (Fig. 6:1) and a krater (Fig. 6:6), were also discovered in this square. A fill consisting of small stones (L105; Fig. 7) was exposed over most of Sq A2. It abuts a section of a field wall (W106; Fig. 7), probably a retaining wall of an agricultural terrace. Stone fills similar to Fill 105 are characteristic of agricultural terraces; they were meant to facilitate the drainage of excess water and stabilize the soil (Gibson 2001:114–115). Most of the sherds discovered in this square were from the Iron Age II, such as a bowl (Fig. 6:2), kraters (Fig. 6:3, 5), an amphoriskos (Fig. 6:6) and a jug (Fig. 6:7). Pottery dating from the Byzantine period, such as the bowl in Fig 5:1, was also discovered.
Area B. Two excavation squares were opened (B1, B3; Fig. 8) where preliminary inspections revealed a section of an ancient agricultural road oriented along a north–south axis. The continuation of the road, which apparently led to Tel Zanoah, was clearly discerned 100 m south of the excavation area (Fig. 9). Chalk bedrock (L203) was exposed near the surface in the western part of Sq B1. The eastern part of the square yielded collapsed stones from a wall (W211; Fig. 10) whose southern continuation was clearly visible beyond the limits of the square. West of the collapsed stones was a narrow strip comprised of a fill of small stone (L204; Fig. 11) that probably abutted the wall in the past. Wall 211 ended south of the square, next to large boulders, some of which had quarrying marks on them (L212). Since the wall ended near to the rocks, it is evident that it was not part of the road, but rather a field wall, the purpose of which remains unclear. Pottery sherds dating from the Byzantine period were discovered in Sq B1.
Another section of the ancient road was exposed in Sq B3. The continuation of the road was visible north and south of the square. The wall that bordered the eastern side of the road (W208; Fig. 12) was discerned on the surface prior to the excavation. The remains of the wall that bordered the road on the west (W207; Fig. 13) are mostly collapsed stones. Between the two walls was a fill of small stones (L209, L210; Fig. 14) that abutted W208 and presumably abutted W207 as well. As was the case with Fill 105 in Sq A2, Fill 209 was probably intended to facilitate the drainage of excess water and to stabilize the soil. The pottery sherds from the square are mainly from the Byzantine period. These include bowls (Fig. 5:2, 3) and a handle with a potter’s mark (Fig. 5:6). Several sherds from the Iron Age II were discovered as well. The ceramic finds are of no assistance in determining with certainty the date of the road’s construction or the duration of its use.
The road, a small section of which was exposed in the excavation, is one of several roads that led from the settlement at Tel Zanoah to the surrounding agricultural areas (such as the one recently excavated; see Paz, Dmitriev and Melman 2015). The ceramic finds from the excavation, dating from the Iron Age II and the Byzantine period, resemble ceramic assamblages from similarly dated sites excavated in the past in the vicinity. Furthermore, settlement remains dated to these periods were surveyed on nearby Tel Zanoah.
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Paz Y., Dmitriev D. and Melman A. 2015. Nahal Zanoah. HA-ESI 127.