Two quarries, a round basin and a burial cave were excavated in the area east of Highway 444 and north of Highway 465 (HA-ESI
115:74*). The excavation of the cave was not completed because human bones were discovered. All these antiquities seem to date to the Byzantine period. An occupation level, dating to the Persian period, was exposed in an excavation along the northern shoulder of Highway 465 (HA-ESI 122
More than twenty sites were documented in this area, including the remains of the Arab village that existed until 1948 (Sites 183–187, 193) and other ancient remains, sometimes beneath those of the village or adjacent to them (Sites 8–26, 83). The more ancient remains among the village ruins indicate that the village was built on an ancient settlement and some of its walls were built on top of ancient walls. The secondary use of cisterns and rock-hewn installations is clearly evident, as is that of building stones. In addition, the openings of shafts and caves were found blocked with fieldstones.
The use of ancient settlement remains and their foundations by Arab villagers from the time of the British Mandate is a well-known phenomenon in archaeological research, as documented at other sites, e.g., Kerem Maharal (HA-ESI 121
), Na‘an (HA-ESI 117
), Tel H
adid (HA-ESI 117
) and H
Meager architectural remains had been discovered at Horbat ‘Ammar (ESI 20:51*), near the area south of Highway 465 and east of Highway 444.
A hewn winepress (Site 192), several stone-clearance heaps, farming terraces (Sites 1, 2) and a rectangular compound enclosed within a fence of large fieldstones (Site 175), were identified.
Cultivated farmland extends across most of the area west of Highway 6 and east of Highway 444, at the end of which is a grove, wherein a farming terrace, oriented east–west, and a number of stone-clearance heaps (Sites 126–131, 191) were identified.
An excavation that revealed a cemetery dating to the Chalcolithic period had been conducted north of the large area rich in antiquities, and west of Highway 6 (HA-ESI 113:62*–63*). Remains from other periods were also discovered in the excavation, among them burial complexes from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, a winepress from the Early Islamic period and a limekiln whose date is unknown.
Many installations hewn in limestone bedrock were discovered in the survey (Fig. 2), particularly rock-hewn cist graves (Fig. 3), cisterns and water installations (Fig. 4), various kinds of channels, quarries and a variety of rock-cuttings (Sites 34–183, 188–190). Multiple cist graves are located on the lower slopes of the streams. Scatterings of potsherds dating to the Chalcolithic period were found on the surface. A large part of the area is covered with debris and thick vegetation, precluding its examination and documentation. An especially high concentration of shafts was found in the high part of Area D, which is in the western side of the survey area. In the wake of the survey, the southern and western parts of Area D (41.5 dunams), which included a section of the slopes east and west of a tributary of Nahal Mazor, as well as the northern slopes of the hill west of the wadi, were exposed. During the exposure, dozens of rock-cut tombs scattered amongst the other hewn remains, were discovered. Several rock-cut cist graves located close to each other were exposed next to a loculi complex, east of the wadi. Thirty-four hewn tombs were documented on a strip of land (length c. 250 m, width c. 30 m), running along the eastern and northern slopes of the hill, west of the wadi; six were discovered in this strip prior to the ground exposure and were added to the high concentration of tombs.
Other rock-cut tombs were identified during the survey south and east of the exposed strip. The western boundary of the examined area was an arbitrary choice and the scope of the cemetery, which so far included dozens of tombs, has not yet been ascertained.
The ceramic finds discovered next to the tombs were scant and included worn jar fragments that probably dated to the Byzantine period. Other remains dated from the Chalcolithic to the Ottoman periods.
Two natural burial caves that contained burial remains from the Chalcolithic period and the Intermediate Bronze Age had been excavated in the area between Highway 6 in the west and Highway 444 in the east (HA-ESI 113: 62*–63*). A large part of Area E is inaccessible because of the fence alongside Highway 6. Centers of ancient activity were identified on the surface of bedrock outcrops, including rock-hewn installations, cisterns and rock-cuttings (Sites 27–33).
The ceramic finds associated with the rock-cut tombs, the rest of the installations, and the other remains documented in the survey, were dated to the Chalcolithic and Byzantine periods. Besides these, a burial cave with loculi of the type common to the Second Temple period was found. Other burial caves and building remains from the Second Temple period were discovered in excavations and probes nearby, conducted prior to paving Highway 6 (see above).
Based on the identification of the building stones and the foundations of ancient walls below the remains of the Arab village in Area A, it can be assumed that it was constructed on an ancient settlement.It is possible that this is part of the ancient settlement that was in the Qula Forest and had been exposed in other excavations. The architectural remains of some five buildings that were dated to the Late Roman and Byzantine periods were discovered in excavations of the Arab village of Qula, less than 1 km northeast of the survey region (ESI 20:51*–53*).
It seems that Areas B and C were mostly used for agriculture. A large burial field that includes rock-hewn cist graves, arcosolia and burial complexes from the Chalcolithic, Roman and Byzantine periods was discovered in Areas D and E. Numerous burial caves from the Chalcolithic period and several burial complexes from the Hellenistic period next to a limekiln and a hewn winepress that were dated to the Early Islamic period were also exposed along the route of Highway 6 (between Areas D and E). In excavations prior to the paving of Highway 6, a cemetery that included dozens of rock-hewn tombs which were used from the Early Roman until the end of the Byzantine periods was exposed. These finds indicate that the area west of the Qula Forest was used for burial from the Chalcolithic until the Late Byzantine periods, at the very least. We can assume that the burial region was used by settlements that existed in these periods in the Qula Forest and its environs, although it is impossible to connect the burial field with any degree of certainty to any particular settlement.
The findings from the survey and the previous excavations suggest a settlement model that was spread across several hills and wadis. On the eastern hill, which is the highest, a settlement that overlooked the hills and wadis to the west, which were used for farmland, industry and burial, was built.