During November 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted in the northern part of Karm er-Ras (Permit No. A-4621; map ref. NIG 23164/73960; OIG 18164/23960), in the wake of private construction. The excavation, carried out on behalf of the Antiquities Authority and financed by the landowner V. Elias, was directed by Y. Alexandre, with the assistance of Y. Laban (administration), V. Essman and V. Pirsky (surveying), H. Smithline (photography), E. Belashov (drafting) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
The excavation, located on a gentle slope, was the most northerly excavation so far undertaken at the site. Two squares (50 sq m) were excavated and an additional adjacent square was abandoned because of inundation. Topsoil (depth c. 0.4 m) was removed with a backhoe and the excavation reached bedrock at a depth of c. 0.7–0.8 m below the new ground level.
Two periods were uncovered in the excavation (Fig. 1).
Strata X, IX, Iron IIA-IIB periods (tenth–ninth centuries BCE), included several floors with no walls, but with considerable quantities of pottery.
Stratum III, the Middle Roman period (second–third centuries CE), included a single circular stone installation.
The limestone bedrock in this area was rather uneven and covered over with a thin layer of soil (0.15–0.30 m) that leveled it out (L1025, L1029, L1031, L1032) and contained a very flimsy row of small stones (W1035) and a few potsherds.
Strata X, IX
Directly above the soil layer, a packed-earth floor (L1022, L1026, L1028; Fig. 2), strewn with an extremely large quantity of Iron IIA-IIB large potsherds, in situ and in the accumulated fill directly above it (L1023), was exposed. An additional packed-earth floor (L1020, L1021) overlaid the fill. No mud-brick or stone walls were found in the accumulated fill (L1023), apart from a row of variously sized stones (W1027), which resembled more the remains of a poor terrace wall. Nonetheless, it is clear that the Iron Age pottery was in situ, on two superimposed packed-earth floors, which may have been part of a courtyard between two houses, or of a building that once had mud-brick walls. The pottery included dozens of bowls, cooking pots and holemouth jars, with hardly any storage jars, an unusual composition of a repertoire, datable to Iron IIA-IIB. Ridged-rim cooking pots prevail, although a few triangular rims are present on both the lower and the upper floors.
A circular installation (L1030; diam. 1.5 m), built of three–four courses of small stones, was found dug into the Iron Age debris. It contained a few potsherds dating to the Middle Roman period.
The archaeological finds from Area V add a further dimension to the understanding of the Iron Age settlement at Karm er-Ras. It is evident that the Iron Age occupation, possibly agricultural processing activities, extended beyond the walled settlement on the upper hill.