During December 2001, a trial excavation was conducted north of Tell Tahunat et-Tabkha, south of She’ar Yeshuv (Permit No. A-3547; map ref. NIG 26021/79161; OIG 21021/29161), prior to setting an electric pole. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Israel Electric Company, was directed by M. Hartal, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqoby (administration), L. Porat (pottery restoration) and H. Tahan (pottery drawing).
Remains from Middle Bronze II, the Iron Age and the Persian, Hellenistic and Roman periods were found in excavations at the foot of the tell (HA-ESI 119). Remains of a flour mill were found along the western fringes of the tell and Bedouin graves were located at the bottom of its slopes.
One square (3 × 3 m) was opened. Its upper part was dug with a backhoe (1.5 m) and once antiquities were discovered, excavation had continued manually.
Travertine rock was exposed in the northeastern corner of the square; it extended precipitously toward the south and west, reaching a depth of more than 2.5 m below surface. Two walls of an installation were discovered at a depth of 2 m below surface. Built of fieldstones, they had survived a single course high and were probably part of a tomb. The rest of the walls lay outside the excavation area. Numerous densely packed vessels alongside and on top of each other were found in the area enclosed by the walls on the southern side of the square (Fig. 1).
The assemblage included open bowls with a plain rim and a ring base (Fig. 2:1–3); a deep bowl with a curved carination and a concave disc base (Fig. 2:4); bowls with a sharp carination angle and a ring base (Fig. 2:5–7), one of which has a pinched rim that forms four spouts (Fig. 2:8), as well as some twenty dipper juglets (Fig. 3). The many vessels indicate that the installation was used as a tomb; however, no skeletal remains were found. Fragments of carinated bowls, juglets and jars were recovered from the area between the tomb and bedrock and these were probably the outcome of damage caused to the tomb in the past.
The assemblage of vessels is entirely ascribed to MB II and can be used to date the first phase of the settlement on the adjacent tell.