In November 2018, a salvage excavation was carried out in Metulla (Permit No. A-8389; map. ref. 254304/797754; Fig. 1), prior to construction of a bicycle path. The excavation was funded by the Metulla Local Council, and directed by M. Bekker-Shamir (photography) on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘akobi (administration), K. Covello-Paran (archaeological supervision), M. Peleg (photography and photogrammetry), Y. Gorin-Rosen (glass), A. Shapiro (map), H. Tahan-Rosen, N. Zach (plan), E.J. Stern and D. Avshalom-Gorni (pottery), D. Strauss-Doron (writing consultation) and workers from Majd el-Kurum.
Two very small excavation squares (1, 2; 1.5 × 2.5 m, 1.5 × 3.0 m), located 7 m apart, were opened near the junction of Rakefet St. and Ha-Tayelet St. on the southern hill slope of Metulla. Meager building remains of uncertain date were uncovered.
In the Metulla Survey Map, remains of a ruin associated with sherds from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods were documented at ‘Ein Metula in the vicinity of the excavation site (Shaked and Shemesh 2016: Site 2
). In previous excavations, burial caves from the Roman and Byzantine periods (Tfilinski and Tzaferis 1968
; Tzaferis 1982
), and winepresses from the Roman and Byzantine periods, as well as pottery from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, were uncovered in the vicinity (Alexandre 2009
[Fig. 1: A-3754]; Jaffe 2010
[Fig. 1: A-5183]). West of the excavation, at Khirbet Aryaq onthe summit of Har Z
efiya, scant remains of a settlement from the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods were recorded (Shaked and Shemesh 2016: Site 1
), and a Greek inscription on a marble fragment was discovered here (Ilan 1975
). The site of Khirbet Aryaq was badly damaged during construction of a new neighborhood.
The excavation squares were opened east of a section of earth fill (depth c. 1.5 m), cut mechanically during the construction of a bicycle path. At the outset, disturbed building remains and patches of bedrock were visible in the squares. In Sq. 1, a single dressed limestone was exposed (W4; 0.32 × 0.51 m, 0.55 m high), apparently the remnant of a wall built on the bedrock (Fig. 2). A soil layer containing pottery vessel sherds from the Mamluk and Ottoman periods (L3). was also exposed. In Sq. 2, part of a rounded installation was uncovered (L7), associated with an earth layer (L6; Fig. 3). The installation comprised one row of medium-sized fieldstones set directly on bedrock, and preserved to a height of one to two courses. Northeast of the installation, signs of rock cuttings were discovered, perhaps cut to level the bedrock prior to construction of another installation that was not preserved.
The soil fills exposed in the section west of the two excavation squares, contained mixed potsherds, due to the disturbance of the site (Fig. 4). The pottery includes body sherds of vessels dated to the Roman and Byzantine periods (not illustrated), bowl sherds dating to the Mamluk period (Fig. 5:1, 2), and body sherds of Rashaya el-Fukhar vessels, dating to the Ottoman period (Fig. 5:3–5). A glass bracelet fragment dating to the Mamluk period was also discovered (Fig. 5:6). Due to the disturbance of the excavation area, it was not possible to date the remains of the structures uncovered; nonetheless, the pottery reflects the settlement periods at the site.
Ilan Z. 1975. A Greek Inscription on Har Zefiya. HA 51–52:1.
Shaked I. and Shemesh N. 2016. Map of Metulla (7) (The Archaeological Survey of Israel) (Hebrew).
Tfilinski N. and Tzaferis V. 1968. A Burial Cave at Metulla. HA 20:3–4 (Hebrew).
Tzaferis V. 1982. A Tomb Near Metulla. ‘Atiqot 8:26–30 (Hebrew; English summary, p. 3*).