(map ref. 263911/766313; Figs. 4, 5) is the largest dolmen in the dolmen field near Qaẕrin (Smithline 2009
: Dolmen 18). It consists of a rectangular burial chamber (L209; 1.1 × 3.3 m, height 0.85 m) surrounded by a stone heap (L202, diam. c. 22 m). A few months before the excavation, the dolmen was partially damaged on its northwestern side by unauthorized basalt quarrying, in the course of which some of the burial chamber stones were removed, along with all the large capstones and some of the stones from the stone heap. The burial chamber was built of large, standing stone slabs (c. 0.3 × 0.7 × 1.0 m; Fig. 6), and it opened to the northeast. The floor of the dolmen was paved with flat, unworked stones, which were no doubt carefully selected to create a flat, horizontal surface. The paving stones were set on the basalt bedrock, and no finds were found beneath them. One of the burial chamber capstones was discovered lying on its side near the chamber; mancala-like game-board depressions were identified on it (Fig. 7; for similar games see Tepper 1986a
). Similar games on dolmen capstones are known from many sites in the Galilee and the Golan; they apparently postdate the dolmen’s construction (Hartal 1987
; Shaked 1994
). A circular retaining wall unearthed within the tumulus, was built to a maximum height of two courses, and was surrounded a pile of stones of various sizes. A shallow depression (L222) was discovered fashioned in the top surface of the heap; similar depressions have been found in the Golan and the Galilee (Alexandre 2017
; Berger and Sharon 2017
; Berger and Gottschalk 2019
Three worked basalt artefacts were found among the tumulus stones: a fragment of a weight bearing signs of wear from a rope that had apparently been attached to it (L202, Basket 2008; Fig. 8) and two fragments of a grinding tool (not illustrated). In the soil layer accumulated on the burial chamber floor, a round bead, made of reddish glass and almost entirely encircled with a thin groove (L203, Basket 2027; Fig. 9:1), was retrieved. A globular-shaped bead made of greenish glass (L205, Basket 2044; Fig. 9:2), was discovered in a soil and stone heap abutting the northern part of the burial chamber. The light-colored soil in this heap was similar to that found in the burial chamber, and different from the dark basaltic soil at the site. It is thus probable that this heap was created by the mechanical equipment that damaged the dolmen, also removing some of the fill from the burial chamber. Beads are often found in dolmens and tumuli from the Intermediate Bronze Age in Israel (Berger and Sharon 2017; Zilberbod, Golani and Amit 2005). Also found in the soil and stone heap was a spearhead made of arsenical bronze (L205, Basket 2020; Fig. 10:1), dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age (Epstein 1985:44–47, Fig. 3:18). In the damaged area near the burial chamber, a dagger tip, made of a similar alloy with the addition of a small amount of lead, was found, also dating to the Intermediate Bronze Age (L204, Basket 2022; Fig. 10:2; Yannai 2016:179). Both weapons were broken and bent, apparently having been crushed by the mechanical equipment. On the surface, at the same level as the burial chamber, small pottery vessel sherds dating to the Byzantine period were found, as well as Rashaya el-Fukhar Ware fragments dating to the end of the Ottoman period (Stern 2016:85–86). A few modern metal objects, including a button and a bullet casing from a hunting rifle, were also recovered.
Dolmen 4 (map ref. 264086/766218; Figs. 11, 12) had recently been damaged by the construction of a square concrete bunker to its north. Only the southern half of the burial chamber was preserved (0.9 × 1.1 m, height 0.4 m). The chamber was delimited on the east and west by large boulders, and on the south by a row of small stones. The floor of the chamber was paved with flat fieldstones laid on a thin fill of soil that leveled the bedrock. The chamber was roofed with a flat stone slab (1.2 × 1.3 m). No stone heap or peripheral wall were found associated with the dolmen, and no finds were discovered.
Dolmen 10 (map. ref. 263643/766060; Figs. 13, 14) consisted of a rectangular burial chamber (L106; 0.5 × 1.8 m, height 0.4 m) surrounded by a stone tumulus (L100). The burial chamber, on a north–south axis, was built of large stone slabs (c. 0.4 m thick), and roofed with two stone slabs (0.9 × 1.1 m, 1.1 × 1.2 m). No finds were discovered. At the base of the tumulus a circular peripheral wall built of fieldstones was discovered (W109; diam. c. 4.5 m).
Dolmen 11 (map ref. 263636/766050; Figs. 14, 15) consisted of a rectangular burial chamber (L104; 0.5 × 1.7 m) surrounded by a stone heap (L101). The burial chamber was built on a north–south axis, of stone slabs lain on their side; rings were discerned incised on the upper part of two of the stone slabs. The burial chamber was covered by two capstones (1.0 × 1.1 m, 0.9 × 1.2 m). A circular peripheral wall was discovered (W110; diam. c. 5 m) at the base of the tumulus. A human skull fragment was found in the soil accumulation in the burial chamber (L104).
Dolmen 12 (map ref. 263637/766038; Figs. 16–18) consisted of a burial chamber (L108; 1.1 × 2.7 m, height 0.7 m) surrounded by a stone tumulus (L102). The burial chamber was built, on a southeast–northwest axis, of six large stone slabs, and was roofed with four capstones. At the base of the tumulus, two circular stone walls were found, W111 (7–8 m diam.) and W114 (4–5 m diam.). The external face of W111 was abutted on the west by a stone wall delimiting a rectangular courtyard (neither of which were excavated), apparently postdating the dolmen. No finds were discovered in the excavated burial chamber and tumulus.
Dolmen 14 (map. ref. 263634/766006; Fig. 19) was damaged by illegal basalt quarrying prior to the excavation. It consisted of a rectangular burial chamber (1.1 × 2.7 m, height 0.6 m), dug into the ground on a northeast–southwest axis, and lined on three sides with stone slabs. The floor of the burial chamber was paved with stone slabs set on a thin layer of soil that leveled the bedrock. The burial chamber was surrounded by a circular wall (diam. 8–9 m) built of fieldstones; it had also been partially damaged. No finds were discovered in the accumulation of soil in the burial chamber or under the floor.
Dolmen 16 (map ref. 263828/765928; Figs. 20, 21) was built on a slightly elevated rock terrace. It consisted of a rectangular burial chamber (L192; 0.8 × 2.3 m; height 0.4 m) surrounded by a stone tumulus (L191; diam. c. 7 m); the tumulus was almost undisturbed. The burial chamber that lay on a general north–south axis, was built of stone slabs and roofed with three stone slabs. No finds were discovered in the excavation of the dolmen.
The current excavation adds data to that accumulated from past excavations of the dolmen fields of Qaẕrin (Smithline 2009; Epstein 1985), and contributes to the recently renewed research on the culture of the dolmen builders in the Golan and the Upper Galilee (Freikman 2014; Berger and Sharon 2018; Fraser 2018). The finds of beads and metal tools in Dolmen 1 supports the premise of the former excavators of the site that the dolmen field of Qaẕrin should be dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age. The attribution of the dolmens in the Golan to this period is widely accepted today by scholars, although disputed by some (see for example, Fraser 2018; Freikman 2004). The tumuli and field walls discovered near the dolmens, are apparently associated with agricultural activity in the area. Sherds previously discovered in the vicinity of the excavation were dated mainly to the Roman and Byzantine period (Smithline 2009), possibly dating the agricultural activity at the site.