During November 2005, a salvage excavation was conducted at Horbat Humra (Dhahrat el-Humraiya; Permit No. A-4616; map ref. NIG 17538–44/64851–62; OIG 12538–44/14851–62), prior to the installation of a water pipe. The excavation, undertaken on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and underwritten by the Mekorot Water Company, was directed by E. Yannai (photography; find drawing in the field), with the assistance of E. Bachar (administration), N. Zak (drafting) and M. Ajami, F. Volinsky and D. Barkan of the IAA central district.
The excavation area extended across a flat spur south of a low kurkar
hill, c. 50 m north of the Nah
al Soreq channel (Fig. 1). Two large tells whose remains are dated to the Bronze and Iron Ages: Tel Mah
oz (Tell es-Sultan) east of the site and Yavne-Yam to its west (HA-ESI 118
: Fig. 1:1, 11), are located in this region, which has extensive sand dunes on its north and south.
Nine squares aligned east–west were opened; eleven pit graves were discerned, based on changes in the color of soil. The excavation was suspended by the contractor shortly after it had begun and therefore, only four graves were partially exposed in the eastern side of the area (1, 3, 10 11; Fig. 2). The graves and their contents were documented; no artifacts were removed and once the recording was completed, the graves were covered over.
The four graves were discovered 0.3 m below surface as four concentrations of pottery vessels and small finds alongside bone remains of probably four individuals. The graves, dating to Middle Bronze IIB, contained complete pottery vessels that were poorly preserved, i.e., the paint had flaked off and several vessels disintegrated upon exposure. Grave 1 (Fig. 3) contained three bowls (Fig. 4:1–3), two of them (Fig. 4:2, 3) placed one inside another and the bowl in Fig. 4:3 has a rounded base, unlike the ring base of the other two, as well as a jar (Fig. 4:10), a jug (not drawn), a dipper juglet (Fig. 4:9) and a Cypriot White-Painted VI juglet (Fig. 4:6). Tomb 3, damaged by a sewer trench, was survived by a Cypriot White-Painted VI juglet (Fig. 4:8) and two jars (Fig. 4:11, 12) with a folded rim, concave on the exterior. The handles of the jar in Fig. 4:12 had been torn off prior to being interred in the tomb. Tombs 10 and 11 were dug one inside the other and it was impossible to determine the stratigraphic relation between them. Tomb 10 contained two bowls (Fig. 4:4, 5), a jar (not drawn), a jug (not drawn) and four Cypriot White-Painted VI juglets (identical to Fig. 4:6). Only two Cypriot White-Painted VI juglets (Fig. 4:7) were found in Tomb 11. The Cypriot White-Painted VI juglets are made of very light yellow or white fabric, their surface is vertically pared and they are decorated with dark brown and gray stripes. These juglets can be compared to ones found in the Megiddo tombs and on Tel Megiddo, indicating that they were imported into the Land of Israel as of the late MB IIB and at the beginning of Late Bronze I.
On top soil in the area of the excavation, small finds were collected. These apparently surfaced from the excavated graves or from adjacent ones that were not examined, when the ground was plowed. The finds included a bronze toggle pin (Fig. 5:1), a bronze dagger (Fig. 5:2), a weight of red stone (Fig. 5:3) and another of metal (Fig. 5:4), as well as a black-stone scarab whose bottom is engraved with a floral design (Fig. 5:5).
The graves exposed in the excavation belong to a cemetery that extended along the edge of the hill, next to Nahal Soreq. A complex of sixty-three tombs, mostly attributed to MB IIB and a few to Late Bronze Age, had previously been excavated by J. Ory (1948. QDAP 13:75–91) in this cemetery, probably slightly south of the current excavation (the precise location of Ory’s excavation was not recorded). A site surrounded by a rampart and ascribed to MB IIB is located opposite Horbat Humra and slightly south of the Nahal Soreq channel. It is assumed that the cemetery belonged to this site. In light of this geographic proximity and the complete absence of any vessels later than MB IIB in the excavation, the cemetery should only be dated to MB IIB.