In July 2016, a trial excavation was conducted to the south of Horbat Sasay (Permit No. A-7753; map ref. 212415–3442/742363–3392; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of Road 6. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and financed by the Cross-Israel Highway, was directed by L. Talmi, with the assistance of A. a-Salam Sa‘id (area supervision), E. Oren (supervision), E. Bachar and Y. Amrani (administration), M. Kahan and R. Liran (surveying and drafting), A. Peretz (photography), N. Getzov (scientific advisor), P. Gendelman (pottery), M. Shuiskaya (pottery drawing), Y. Nagar (physical anthropology) and K. Sa‘id.
Rock-Hewn Burial Cave (Fig. 2). The cave comprises an entrance chamber (L101), which was largely destroyed, leading to an oval cavity (L102). It yielded potsherds from the Intermediate Bronze Age (twenty-fourth–twentieth centuries BCE), including an amphoriskos (Fig. 3:1), a jug with a broad strap handle (Fig. 3:2), a jug with a spout (Fig. 3:3), and jug bases (Fig. 3:4, 5). Human skeletal remains were found not in situ. A few long bone fragments were discovered in the entrance chamber, including the femoral shaft of an adult individual and a metacarpal bone whose fused ends indicate that it too belonged to an adult individual (Johnston and Zimmer 1989). A cranial vault fragment, a tibia shaft and a few small non-diagnostic bone fragments were recovered from the oval cavity.
Rock-Hewn Water Cistern (L103; Figs. 4, 5). The walls of the rectangular cistern were coated with plaster with embedded potsherds. The plaster layer is thick (c. 0.5 cm), probably from years of renewed coating and maintenance. Potsherds dating from the Roman period (third–fifth centuries CE), including a lid (Fig. 3:6) and jars (Fig. 3:7, 8), were found in the cistern. It is possible that the cistern was re-used in the Roman period following its use in earlier periods.
The excavation revealed for the first time remains a cave from the Intermediate Bronze Age; the human skeletal remains attest that it was used for burial. The cistern augments other remains from the Roman period discovered in the past at Horbat Sasay, although it may have been hewn in an earlier period.
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