In August 2013, a trial excavation was conducted southwest of Zippori (Permit No. A-6884; map ref. 224650–824/737944; Fig. 1), prior to the construction of a road and relocation of a sewer line. The excavation, conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, was directed by O. Zidan, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), A. Shapiro (GPS), R. Mishayev and M. Kahan (surveying and drawing), W. Atrash (scientific guidance), Y. Bibas (photography) and H. Tahan-Rosen (artifacts drawing) .
Excavations were conducted along Highway 79, southwest of Zippori, exposing two caves (A, B) and a limekiln (C). Cave A and the limekiln are dated to the Roman period on the basis of ceramic finds, while Cave B is undated. The excavated area belonged to the agricultural hinterland of ancient Zippori.
In the past, finds ascribed to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, Early Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Ages I and II were discovered east of the excavation, both south and north of Highway 79 (Milevski and Getzov 2014
). A wall dated to the Roman period, which diverted rainwater to a stream, was exposed c. 400 m east of the excavation (Zidan 2014
). Building remains and caves that were part of the Arab settlement of Saffuriya were exposed west of the excavation area (Abu Zidan and Yaroshevich 2013
Cave A. The cave consisted of two rooms (L14, L15; Figs. 2, 3) hewn in soft limestone bedrock. The southwestern part of the cave had been severed as a result of development work. Room 14 was round (diam. 1.8–1.9 m, height 1.8 m; Fig. 4). No entrance shaft was preserved, but one was probably hewn in its ceiling due to construction work. An accumulation of light brown soil discovered on the floor contained pottery sherds dating to the Roman period, among them a cooking pot (Fig. 5:7). A tunnel (width 0.65 m, height 1.12 m) leading to Room 15 was hewn in the eastern wall of Room 14, at a height of 0.1 m above the floor level. Room 15 was elliptical (diam. 1.7 m, height 1.2 m). Its floor was overlain with light brown alluvium containing pottery sherds dating to the Early Roman period, among them a bowl (Fig. 5:1). A circular installation (diam. 0.4 m, depth 0.25 m; Fig. 6) was hewn in the center of the floor. Another tunnel (width 0.5 m, height 1.45 m) that might have led to an entrance courtyard was hewn in the southwestern part of the room. The cave may have been used for storage.
Part of a wall (W16; Figs. 2, 7) built on a leveled bedrock surface and aligned in a northeast–southwest direction (preserved height 1 m) was exposed south of the cave. West of the wall was gray soil (L10) containing numerous small fieldstones and pottery sherds dating to the Early Roman period, including a bowl (Fig. 5:2) and two jars (Fig. 5:8, 9). An accumulation of light brown soil exposed east of W16 yielded pottery sherds dating to the Roman period, including two jars (Fig. 5:10, 11).
Cave B. A natural cave, devoid of any artifacts, was exposed in soft limestone bedrock (Figs. 8, 9).
Limekiln C. A circular, rock-cut limekiln (diam. 3.7 m; Figs. 10, 11), whose western half was severed during the course of development work, was exposed. A thin burnt layer overlain with lime and limestone (L19) was exposed on the installation’s floor. The bottom portion of the kiln was lined with nari fieldstones. Evidence of fire was clearly visible on the kiln’s wall. Light brown soil (L11) discovered in the upper part of the kiln contained many small fieldstones and pottery sherds dating to the Roman period. These included Kefar Hananya Type 1B vessels—a bowl (Fig. 5:3), two kraters (Fig. 5:4, 5) and cooking pot (Fig. 5:6)—and three jars (Fig. 5:12–14).