During December 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted at Kafr Nafah (Permit No. A-4643; map ref. NIG 26937/77425; OIG 21937/27425), in the wake of installing an electric cable. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Electric Corporation, was directed by F. Abu Zidan, with the assistance of Y. Ya’aqobi (administration), A. Hajian (surveying), E.J. Stern (pottery reading), L. Porath (pottery restoration), H. Tahan (pottery drawing), D.T. Ariel (numismatics) and M. Sadeh (archaeozoology), as well as workers from Maghar and Hazor.
Kafr Nafah is situated c. 500 m southwest of the Armored Corps Junction, on the northern bank of a tributary that flows into Nahal Gilbon in the northern Golan Heights.
Surveys conducted in the area indicate that the abandoned Syrian village was built on top of ancient buildings remains from the Roman and Byzantine periods, which followed the Haurani construction style (Schumacher G. 1888. The Jaulan. London; Hartal M. 1989. The Northern Golan, Site 3.62). Architectural elements from these periods, incorporated in the buildings of the village, were documented (HA 56:3–4 [Hebrew]). The potsherds collected in the surveys suggest that the village was first established in the Roman period, expanded in the Byzantine period (IEJ 33, 1983:189–206), was reoccupied in the Mamluk period, when the settlements in the Golan had flourished and was settled by Turkmens during the Ottoman period.
Two squares were opened next to a building on the southwestern side of the village (Fig. 1). Remains of buildings and courtyards with ovens were exposed in three settlement strata: the twentieth century CE (1), the thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE (2) and the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE (3).
A two-room building was uncovered (Figs. 2, 3).
The eastern room was preserved almost in its entirety. Its rectangular plan (5.0 × 8.5 m)
was partitioned widthwise by two arches. The walls were built of dry construction, utilizing coarsely dressed basalt ashlars and the ceiling consisted of basalt slabs that rested on basalt cornices in the wall on one side and on the two arches that spanned the room, on the other (Figs. 4, 5). A doorway in the western wall evidently connected this room with the one to its west.
The western room was mostly destroyed and its walls (W507, W509, W510, W519) were preserved two to three courses high. Only the foundation of W507 had survived and it seems that initially, it delineated the room from the west. Wall 507 was later dismantled and the room was expanded with the construction of W510 and the laying of a new cement floor that abutted its walls. At the western end of the excavation, a wall (W515), built on a surface of flat stones (L536) from Stratum 2, was exposed.
The ceramic finds included krater fragments (Fig. 6:6, 7) and a jar spout (Fig. 6:8) of Rashaya al-Fukhar ware, dating to the Ottoman period, as well as bowls (Fig. 6:1–5) from the thirteenth–fourteenth centuries CE, which apparently belonged to Stratum 2.
Based on the stone dressing (M. Hartal, pers. comm.) and the Rashaya al-Fukhar pottery, which was still in use in the Golan at the time of Syrian rule, it can be assumed that Stratum 1 belonged to the abandoned Syrian village.
A room and a courtyard with a tabun to its east were exposed (Figs. 7, 8).
The room, enclosed by walls (W523, W541, W542) built of medium, undressed stones, had a floor of flat fieldstones (L543). A wall (W557), in which two fragments of a threshold stone were incorporated, partitioned the room. A flat stone work surface (L536) abutted W523 from the west.
The courtyard was located to the north of the room. Wall 508 enclosed it on the north and its eastern wall seems to be a continuation of W542. A tabun (L526; Fig. 9) was set on the courtyard’s tamped earthen floor (L530).
The ceramic assemblage included bowls (Fig. 10:1–4), kraters (Fig. 10:5, 6), cooking pot (Fig. 10:7), jars (Fig. 10:8, 9), jugs (Fig. 10:10, 11) and bases of glazed vessels (Fig. 10:12, 13), dating to the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries CE. While dismantling Floor 530, a silver dirham of Sultan Beybers I, struck at the Cairo mint (1261 CE; IAA 102298) was found, as well as an antoninianus of Emperor Provos (Antioch mint, 276 CE; IAA 102300).
A corner of a building and a courtyard with a tabun to its east were exposed.
The building corner (W554, W555) was located at the western end of the excavation area. The walls, built of large and coarsely dressed basalt stones, were different from the construction of the upper strata. The walls extended into the western balk of the excavation.
The courtyard, to the east of the building corner and below the floor of Stratum 2, had a tamped-earth floor (L547), with a tabun (L551) placed on top of it. A floor of an identical elevation (L560) was discerned below W557.
A stone collapse (L545) that probably stemmed from the adjacent building (W554, W555) was found in the southwestern corner of the area. While pulling the collapse apart,
a fals of Al-Salah Ismail of the Zanji dynasty (the Damascus mint, 1173–1181 CE; IAA 102299), was found.
The potsherds on top of the floor included bowls (Fig. 11:1–4), a cooking pot found above Floor 547 (Fig. 11:5), jars (Fig. 11:6–9) and bases of glazed vessels (Fig. 11:10, 11), dating to the twelfth–thirteenth centuries CE.
Bedrock exposed directly beneath the floors of Stratum 3 was overlain with a few fragments of pottery vessels from the Roman and Byzantine periods. These apparently represented the initial settlement at the site, which according to surveys was mostly located north of the excavation area.
Two coins, one of Salah al-Din Yusuf II (1236–1242 CE; IAA 102297) and the other of Sha‘aban II (1368 CE; IAA 102296), were discovered on the surface.
Analysis of the archaeozoological finds from the courtyards of the houses shows that the predominant species of raised livestock were cattle, sheep and goat.