The burial cave whose ceiling had collapsed was discovered on the western hill of the site, on the upper part of the northern slope, along the edge of the forest. Cemeteries of the ancient settlement are known to be located in this region. The antiquities’ robbers dug a pit in the cave, thereby causing extensive damage to the levels and context of the artifacts. Dozens of fragments of MB IIB pottery vessels were recovered from the soil dumps, including bowls (Fig. 2:1–5), jars (Fig. 2:6–10), juglets (Fig. 2:11, 12), a dipper juglet (Fig. 2:13), a lamp (Fig. 2:14) and a potsherd decorated with a painted branch (Fig. 2:15).
An excavation square (4 × 4 m) was opened around the pit that had been cut by the antiquities robbers (diam. 1.5 m, depth 1.2 m). Initially, the soil fill around the robbers’ pit was excavated to reach a uniform, undisturbed level and subsequently, the excavation continued throughout the entire cave area.
A level of large stones, 1.5 m below surface, was probably the collapsed ceiling of the cave.
Below it were dozens of smashed pottery vessels that had most likely been broken by the caved-in ceiling. Another level, c. 0.3 m below the upper one, included a beaten-earth floor that was overlain with pottery vessels and numerous human bones. At the same level in the northern corner of the excavation area, two intact pottery vessels, a jug (Fig. 3:2) and a cylindrical juglet (Fig. 3:3) were found; no remains of the collapsed ceiling were discerned in this area, which was probably the front courtyard of the cave.
Most of the artifacts included small and medium-sized pottery vessels, such as carinated bowls (Fig. 3:1), juglets with a two-strand handle (Fig. 3:4) and juglets with a button base, as well as scarabs and human bones. This assemblage is characteristic of MB IIB burial caves.
The scarabs are made of steatite and still bear traces of their original glaze. The raw material was probably imported from Egypt, while the scarabs themselves were crafted in Canaan, using Egyptian motifs. Three scarabs were found at the bottom of the robbers’ pit. Scarab 1001 (Fig. 4:1) is decorated with a head of Hathor, a winged sun disc and papyrus plants. Scarab 1002 (Fig. 4:2) has an image of an Egyptianized man with a falcon’s head, holding a flower in his hand; this decoration is common to Canaanite scarabs of MB IIB date. On Scarab 1003 (Fig. 4:3) two ankhs and a spiral are depicted, which imitate an Egyptian design. Another scarab (1014; Fig. 4:4), which bears an image of a lion that is also popular among Canaanite scarabs of the period, was discovered during the excavation around the robbers’ pit.
A probe (1.0 × 1.5 m, depth 0.7 m) was excavated in the southern corner of the square where the top of a fieldstone-built wall was exposed c. 1.95 m below surface. The fill alongside the wall contained fragments of pottery vessels that dated to Early Bronze II, including a krater with rope decoration and white lime (Fig. 5:1), a holemouth jar (Fig. 5:2), jars (Fig. 5:3–6) and an amphoriskos (Fig. 5:7), as well as an irregular shaped bronze fragment.
The excavation was suspended before the entire assemblage could be exposed (c. 2.5 m below surface). During 2005, antiquities’ robbers returned to the cave and breached the southern part of the excavation square into the rest of the cave. The soil from this illicit dig filled the original excavation square and was not examined.
Our conclusions are essentially incomplete due to the limited excavation and the disturbances caused by the antiquities’ robbers to the cave. It seems that the cave was hewn into the side of the slope during Early Bronze II; however, it is not possible to determine its use in this phase. During MB IIB, the cave was used for burial and funerary offerings were placed in it. Two levels were discerned, separated by a soil accumulation that could indicate a gap or an intentional covering, which may point to two separate burial phases in this period. At a later unknown point in time, the ceiling of the cave collapsed.