Two main settlement sites lie within the survey area: from the Middle and Late Bronze Age (27), and from the Crusader/Mamluk and the Ottoman periods (17; a declared site–Horbat Hemer).Apart from these, the following antiquities sites were documented in the survey: three megalithic buildings (13, 15, 28); eight dolmens (1, 2, 7, 10–12, 21, 31); ten tumuli (1, 4[?], 8[?], 14, 20, 22, 24, 25, 30[?], 31); dozens of stone piles, probably clearance heaps (3–6, 8, 23, 26, 29, 30[?], 33); two sheikh’s tombs and one Muslim cemetery (9, 16, 18); ancient stone animal pens (19); an abandoned cultivation plot (32); an ancient fruit garden (34); and a rock-hewn installation (31).
1—Dolmen (map ref 248302/762394; Fig. 2). A tumulus (diam. 10 m, height 0.5 m) built of small, unworked limestone. A small cell built of two large stones (each 0.7 × 1.0 m), without covering stones is located in the northern part of the dolmen, which seems to have been plundered. Another small cell is probably concealed within the southern part of the tumulus.
2—Dolmen (map ref 248252/762308; Fig. 3). Two or three very large limestone rocks (0.4 × 0.5 × 1.5 m), set in place unevenly near a rectangular depression (2×4 m) that is filled with small stones. This seems to be a dolmen whose overlying tumulus has been removed and it was plundered and destroyed. Apparently one covering stone is still in situ, and a very large stone that may have originally come from the side of the cell or its ceiling is resting up against the eastern side of that covering stone.
3—Concentration of Stone Piles (map ref. 248324/762130; diam. 50 m; Fig. 4). About ten heaps of stone (average diam. 5 m, average height 0.5 m) that comprise small unworked limestone that was apparently heaped together when stones were cleared from the area.
4—Concentration of Stone Piles (map ref. 248374/762078; diam. 50 m; Fig. 5). About seven heaps of stones (average diam. 7 m, average height 1.0–1.5 m) composed of mostly small and a few medium-sized fieldstones.Some of the stone piles resemble clearance heaps. The others were probably piled up during the course of some other activity.
5—Concentration of Stone Piles (map ref. 248740/762331; diam. 50 m; Fig. 6). About ten piles of stone (average diam. 5 m, average height 0.5 m), comprising small unworked limestone rocks that were apparently heaped together when stones were cleared from the area.
6—Concentration of Stone Piles (map ref. 248685/762407; diam. 50 m; Fig. 7). About ten piles of stone (average diam. 5.5 m, average height 0.6 m), comprising small unworked limestone rocks that were apparently heaped together when stones were cleared from the area.
7—An Elliptical Building and a Dolmen (map ref. 248101/762560). The two structures are c. 10 m apart. They were excavated in 1990 (ESI 10:73–75) and at the current survey, they were still standing and undamaged.
8—Concentration of Stone Piles (map ref. 248603/761142; diam. of site 300 m). About 40 stone piles (average diam. 7 m, average height 1 m) that mostly comprise small and a few medium-sized limestone fieldstones.It seems that most of the piles, if not all, are clearance heaps; however, it is possible that several of them were piled up as a result of some other activity. Four stone piles in this cluster (A–D) were measured and documented in detail:
Pile A. A heap of small unworked limestone (map ref. 248567/761146; diam. 10 m, height 1.5 m; Fig. 8).
Pile B. A heap of small unworked limestone (map ref. 248656/761127; diam. 10 m, height 2 m; Fig. 8).
Pile C. An elongated pile of small unworked limestone (map ref. 248630/761202; 4×25 m; Fig. 9).
Pile D. A heap of small and medium-sized unworked limestone (map ref. 248580/761238; diam. 7 m, height 1 m; Fig. 9). A wall, built of fieldstones and preserved four courses high (1 m), encloses the pile’s eastern side.
9—Sheikh’s Tomb (map ref. 248479/761677; Fig. 10). A Muslim grave monument (1.5 × 3.0 m, height 1 m), built of small worked limestone and standing on a small, stone-built podium. The tomb is referred to as ‘the tomb of Sheikh er-Rifai’ on old maps. The identity of the deceased is unknown; however, it should be noted that at the foot of Mount Canaan, within the former al-Akhrad quarter, a cave that was a zawiyah (a place of prayer and ceremony) of the Sufit Muslim sect ‘al- Rifai’ was discovered and inside it was an inscription from the year 1287 CE that mentioned the sect. The head of the Rifai sect in Zefat during the Mamluk period is probably buried in this tomb (Y. Stepansky 1990. Archaeological News on the Caves in the Eastern Galilee. Niqrot Tsurim 17:21–34 [Hebrew]; Y. Stepansky 2002. A Mamluk Zawiyah in Zefat. In: E. Shiller and G. Barkay [eds.], Zefat and its Surroundings [Ariel 157-158]. Jerusalem, pp. 56–57 [Hebrew]). ‘Al- Rifai’ is also the name of an old Zefat family and they were probably related to the deceased (the family’s descendants reside in Jordan and two of them were former prime ministers).
10—Dolmen (map ref. 248357/761641; Fig. 11). A concentration of large limestone rocks, which could be a special type of dolmen (4×6 m, height 1 m), having no covering tumulus. The dolmen is most likely composed of three built cells covered with large stone slabs.
11—Dolmen (map ref. 248756/761530; Fig. 12). A cell (1.2 × 1.7 m), oriented north–south and built of three upright stones and a large covering stone (1.5 × 2.0 m). The entrance to the dolmen was from the south. The dolmen was discovered without a covering tumulus; however, it is surrounded by a low heap of small stones. The dolmen is a Type 1B of C. Epstein’s classification (‘Atiqot 17:20–58); it is a common type among the basalt-built dolmens in the Ramat Korazim region and the Golan Heights, yet it is relatively rare in the calcareous Upper Galilee.
12—Dolmen (map ref. 248712/761599; Fig. 13). A cell (1.2 × 3.0 m) built of four large hard limestone rocks; three are standing and form the sides of the cell and the fourth one, which covers the cell, is especially large (2.5 × 3. 5 m, thickness 0.3 m). The dolmen is overlain with a tumulus (diam. 10 m, height 1.5 m). The stones forming the sides of the dolmen are natural slabs in the shape of orthostats. The cell is aligned east–west and the entrance was located in the west. The dolmen is Type 1B of C. Epstein’s classification (‘Atiqot 17) and is one of the biggest limestone-built dolmens that has been discovered to date in the mountainous Upper Galilee.
13—Building (map ref. 248333/761454; 4 × 4 m; Fig. 14). Wall remains (max. height 1.5 m) built of large hard limestone fieldstones and preserved one–two courses high.
14—Tumulus (map ref. 248144/761476; Fig. 15). A large tumulus (diam. 8 m, height 2 m) built of large limestone rocks. The tumulus probably covers a sealed dolmen.
15—Building (map ref. 248100/761330; 4×4 m; Fig. 16). Wall remains enclosing a building (max. height 1 m), built of large hard limestone rocks and preserved one–two courses high.
16—Sheikh’s Tomb (map ref. 247604/761878; Fig. 17). A burial monument (1 × 2 m) of cement, aligned east–west and surrounded by a stone wall (8 × 8 m). Short Arabic inscriptions are engraved on its southern side. The tomb is not ancient and probably dates to the twentieth century; a Bedouin sheikh is probably buried inside it and no cemetery is visible around it.
17—Horbat Hemer (map ref. 247549/762006; c. 10 dunams; Figs. 18–20). A small settlement, where remains of dwellings (in the western part), courtyards and stone animal pens, are visible. The building walls, preserved a maximum of eight courses high (2 m), especially in the residential structures, were built of limestone, which was partly unworked and partly roughly hewn. The northern slope of the ruin descends north toward Wadi Hamra, and a few farming terraces overlain with potsherd scatterings and building foundations were discovered. Potsherds dating to the Crusader or Mamluk and the Ottoman periods were discovered in a previous survey at the site (IAA Reports 14:40, Site 328). A few flint cores and flint tools (Neolithic?) were discerned in current survey. It seems that the site was a small agricultural settlement or farmstead that existed during the Middle Ages, when Zefat was prosperous, and its residents also engaged in raising cattle, sheep and goats. The settlement’s source of water was probably ‘En Hemer, in the Wadi Hamra stream channel, c. 300 m north of the ruin and c. 50 m below it. There is a lovely view from Horbat Hemer to the north, toward Wadi Hamra and the slopes of Mount Canaan east of Zefat; however the hill with the citadel, which is located in the heart of the city, cannot be seen from the ruin.
18—Muslim Cemetery (map ref. 247599/761979; 20 × 20; Fig. 21). A concentration of c. 10 tombs (average size 1 × 2 m), each marked by a single course of fieldstones arranged in the shape of an ellipse or rectangle, without any upright gravestones. The tombs are aligned east–west. Some of them are small and may contain the remains of children. The cemetery is quite a distance from the sheikh’s tomb (Site 16), and there seems to be no connection between them. The interred deceased were probably inhabitants of nearby Horbat Hemer.
19—Concentration of Animal Pens (map ref 247532/761896; diam. of c. 50 m; Fig. 22). Four or five ancient stone animal pens (average diam. 15 m), built of hard unworked limestone (max. height 0.5 m). The animal pens are clearly visible in aerial photographs (see Fig. 1). A handful of potsherds dating to the Middle Bronze Age (one sherd), the Hellenistic period (one sherd?) and Byzantine or Early Islamic period (two or three sherds) were found scattered in the area, but they are insufficient for dating the animal pens.
20—Tumulus (map ref. 247511/761655; diam. 5 m, height 1 m; Fig. 23). The tumulus, built of small and medium fieldstones, is enclosed within a peripheral wall of medium-sized limestone. A kind of opening with a ‘doorjamb’ that was placed in its northern side is visible in the east of the tumulus.
21—Dolmen (map ref. 247363/761696; Fig. 24). A cell (2 × 4 m) aligned north–south and topped with three large in situ covering stones. The entrance to the dolmen seems to be in the south. The dolmen is covered with a large tumulus (6 × 8 m, height 1.5 m) built of small, medium and large limestone rocks (max. dimensions 0.6 × 0.8 m). An entrance to a corridor, oriented east–west and leading toward the cell in the middle of the heap is located in the western side of the tumulus. The corridor was apparently breached after the dolmen had been built and it was blocked at some point after its construction.
22—A Large Tumulus (map ref. 247330/761553; diam. 8 m, height 2 m; Fig. 25). The tumulus is built of small, medium and large fieldstones of hard limestone. It is not enclosed within a peripheral wall.
23—Concentration of Stone Clearance Heaps (map ref. 247956/761612; A–D; diam. of the site 150 m). Four large adjacent stone clearance heaps, built of small hard limestone fieldstones. They are clearly visible in aerial photographs (see Fig. 1). These are the largest stone clearance heaps in the surveyed area.
Heap A (map ref. 248004/761596; Fig. 26). Diam. 15 m, height 3 m.
Heap B (map ref. 247969/761648; Fig. 26). Diam. 15 m, height 3 m.
Heap C (map ref.247909/761649; Fig. 27). Diam. 10 m, height 2.5 m.
Heap D (map ref. 247908/761592; Fig. 27). 5×10 m, height 2 m; piled on top of a small slope.
24—Tumulus (map ref. 248127/761561; diam. 10 m, height 1.5 m; Fig. 28A). The tumulus is built of medium-sized unworked hard limestone, particularly at its top and small stones. Architectural remains are apparent in the tumulus.
25—Tumulus (map ref. 248216/761659; diam. 10 m, height 2 m; Fig. 28B). The tumulus is built of small, medium and large hard limestone fieldstones. Architectural remains are apparent in the tumulus.
26—Concentration of Stone Clearance Heaps (map ref. 247865/761382; diam. of site 100 m). Eight adjacent clearance heaps (diam. 5–10 m, each 1.0–1.5 m high). The largest heap (A; map ref. 247895/761387; diam. 10 m, height 1.5 m; Fig. 29) is composed of small unworked hard limestone.
27 (1)—Settlement Remains
(map ref. 248700/761800; c. 10 dunams; Fig. 30, 31). Remains of walls (max. height 1.5 m) built of unworked limestone and preserved 3–4 courses high; a few stone piles were also documented. Potsherds and flint tools discerned on the surface during the survey dated to the Chalcolithic period, Middle and Late Bronze Ages and the Ottoman period, as well as a few surface potsherds from the Roman or Byzantine period. A trial excavation was conducted at the site in 2010 (HA-ESI 123
) and remains of a permanent settlement that dated to Middle Bronze II and early Late Bronze Age were exposed; the excavation yielded an abundance of artifacts, including a bronze bracelet, a scarab and numerous pottery vessels. This settlement may be related to the dolmens and megalithic buildings, which are located in the Ramat Razim region.
28 (2)—Building (map ref. 248477/761798; 6 × 6 m, height 1 m; Fig. 32). Remains of a square structure built of large, hard unworked limestone and preserved three courses high. The building’s interior is filled with small and medium stones. It is probably connected to the ancient settlement at Site 27, which is located nearby. The building was documented in 1982 (IAA Archive, Ramat Razim Inspection File, Neg. 157204).
29 (3)—Stone Pile (map ref. 248431/761938; diam. 8 m, height 1.5–2.0 m; Fig. 33). A possible clearance heap, piled with small and medium hard unworked limestone rocks.
30 (4)—Stone Pile (map ref. 248217/761788; diam. 6 m, height 0.5 m; Fig. 34). A shallow pile of scattered stones that consist of unworked hard limestone; most of the stones are small and a few are medium. It is difficult to determine if the pile is the remains of a burial tumulus or a clearance heap.
31 (5)—A Dolmen and a Hewn Installation (map ref. 248791/761677). A tumulus (5 × 10 m, height c. 3 m) built of small, medium and large, hard unworked limestone. It has a rectangular shape and three courses of construction are visible in its foundation, on the northwestern side (Fig. 35A). The tumulus covers a burial cell (1 × 2 m; Fig. 35B) that is also built of hard, unworked limestone. Remains of the cell are visible at the top of the heap. A few potsherds dating to the Roman and Byzantine periods were found around the heap, including a rim of a Kefar Hananya type Galilean bowl that is dated to the third–fourth centuries CE. Next to the southern side of the tumulus is a bedrock surface (2×4 m; Fig. 36) that may be natural or smoothed, with two rock-cut collecting vats: a western vat (diam. 0.5 m, depth 0.25 m) and an eastern one (diam. 0.35 m, depth 0.25 m). A shallow step (width 7 cm, depth 3 cm) is hewn at the rim of the western vat.
32 (6)—Cultivation Plot (map ref. 247905–55/762131–233; 70 × 100 m; Fig. 37). A large plot delineated on the east and west by two stone fences (width 2–3 m, max. height 0.5 m), running along the slope. The fences are built of uneven piles of small stones.
33 (7)—Concentration of Stone Piles and Field Walls (map ref. 248412–75/761982–2037; 1–2 dunams; Fig. 38). Six stone piles that may be clearance heaps (each diam. 4–5 m) and a few field walls built of small and medium hard, unworked limestone. The stones may have been cleared to cultivate the soil, which eroded afterward, or the clearing could have been done for the purpose of building a temporary encampment.
34 (8)—Wadi Hamra Fruit Garden (map ref. 247320/763081; min. dimensions 200×200 m). Ancient agricultural remains in a region that extends north and east of Zefat’s soccer field (Fig. 39A). The surviving finds in the area included farming terraces planted with fruit trees, primarily olive and almond trees. The walls of the terrace are built of hard, unworked limestone. Most of the walls have collapsed (Fig. 39B); however a few are still standing firm (height 0.5–1.0 m; Figs. 40, 41A). To the east, above the Wadi Hamra channel, a section of a narrow road (length c. 100 m, width 2 m; Fig. 41B), oriented north–south parallel to the wadi channel, can be seen. The road is supported on the west by a retaining wall built of fieldstones. A small pool, not ancient, is located in the wadi channel. It is built of stones and cement and collects the water flowing in the wadi from the north (Fig. 42).
Numerous remains of human activity were discovered in Ramat Razim, although the area is very rocky and no permanent sources of water are found there. The remains date to two main periods—the Bronze Age (Middle and Late) and the Middle Ages (the Mamluk and Ottoman periods), which was a time of prosperity for the city of Zefat. The documented remains included two permanent settlements that were built of large fieldstones, monumental burial remains (dolmens and tumuli), Muslim graves and evidence of agricultural activity—cultivation and animal husbandry (sheep, goat and cattle)—evident in the many stone clearance heaps, stone animal pens, the cultivation plot, the field walls, as well as the fruit garden in Wadi Hamra. Muslim historical sources mention extensive agricultural activity around Zefat in the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. It is unclear when the agricultural areas at Ramat Razim were abandoned; however, it can be assumed that the difficult events that transpired during the second part of the Ottoman period (the eighteenth–nineteenth centuries CE), such as the earthquake of 1759 and especially the earthquake of 1837, which severely damaged Zefat and its economy, caused these farmlands, which were difficult to cultivate anyway, to be abandoned. In any case, they were already deserted at the time of the British Mandate (Y. Karmon 1960. The Agricultural Use of the Ground in the Zefat Mountains. BIES 24 :220, Illustration 2). Since then, most of the area has remained desolate, with the exception of the myrtle orchards; the agricultural soil was eroded away over the years and the ground surface became mostly rocky. An exception is the Wadi Hamra channel, the upper tributary of Nahal ‘Akhbera, where still today, there are ancient farming terraces with fruit gardens, mostly planted with olive and almond trees.