In March 2014, a trial excavation was conducted on the eastern fringes of the village of Gush Halav, c. 0.5 km from the site of Safsaf (Permit No. A-7089; map ref. 24276–82/76872–82; Fig. 1), after Middle Paleolithic flint items were found on the surface prior to building a sewage pool. The excavation, conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquity Authority and financed by the regional council of Merom Ha-Galil, was directed by H. Bron, with the assistance of Y. Ya‘aqobi (administration), G. Cinamon (GPS) and H. Tahan-Rozen (pottery drawing).
The site of Safsaf was excavated in the past (Bron 2010
), revealing settlement remains from the Middle Bronze Age and the Iron Age underneath the ruins of the Arab village of Safsaf, which was abandoned during the 1948 war. The current excavation was located in a pasture overlooking the site of Safsaf; the stony top layer of the field was removed at some point in the past, possibly by mechanical means. Several wall fragments could be discerned on the surface to the east of the excavation area, and ceramic and some flint finds that date from the Chalcolithic and Roman periods could be found on the surface. The excavation (Areas A, B; 75 sq m), limited to the confines of the planned pool, yielded very meager archeological remains.
The southern squares in Area A (Fig. 2) yielded a dark reddish-brown soil deposit (thickness 0.2 m) that covered the basalt bedrock. The soil contained several medium-sized unhewn basalt stones and a small number of square chalk hewn building stones in between; no structure contours could be identified. Flint items and small sherds—the identifiable ones from the nineteenth–twentieth century CE—and several empty shell cases with the 1948 date imprint were also found within this layer of soil.
In Area B (Fig. 3) the basalt bedrock was exposed at a depth of 0.15 m. A few nonaligned basalt stones, a scant amount of undiagnostic, weathered pottery sherds and empty shell cases were found.
Except for a small number of flint tools found on the surface, the excavation yielded no early finds; the only diagnostic pottery seems to be from the time of the British Mandate, and the few shells are remnants of Hiram Campaign for the conquest of the Galilee in 1948. Thus, it is seems that the surface was cleared sometime before 1948, when all archeological remains—if present at all—were removed. The flint items and the fragmentary pottery sherds, as well as the lack of architectural remains, all suggest that the area was used for agricultural purposes over the ages.