Moza, Section A

Jacob Vardi and Hamudi Khalaily
Preliminary Report
In August–December 2018, an excavation was conducted on the southern margins of the Neolithic site at Moza (Section A; Permit No. A-8248; map ref. 215404–966/632598–3491; Figs. 1, 2), prior to the construction of Highway 16 leading from Moza Junction to western Jerusalem. The excavation, conducted on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority and funded by the Netivei Israel Company, was conducted by J. Vardi and H. Khalaily, with the assistance of T. Abulafia, A. Bishop, L. Davis, M. Zindel, D. Yegorov, A. Levi, Z. Matskevich, A. Segal, L. Siyalas, A. Kessler and M. Shemer (area supervision), A. Peretz and W. Abu-Sabih (administration), R. Shem-Tov (laboratory director), M. Kahan (drafting), A. Peretz (photography), E. Marco and D. Salman (photogrammetry), M. Anton (physical anthropology), H. Reshef and N. Marom (archaeozoology), V. Caracuta (archaeobotany), Y. Milevsky (stone tools), H. Schechter (shells), E. Kamaisky (on-site pottery restoration), J. Roskin and O. Ackermann (geomorphology), E. Boaretto and L. Regev (radiocarbon dating) and Y. Maor and Y. Asscher (analytical laboratory). Special thanks go to A. Re’em, M. Ajami and O. Barzilai for their assistance.
Section A (7,776 sq m; 564–574 m asl) was divided into ten excavation areas (A3–A12; Fig. 3). It extends across the eastern slope of a hill, bordering on vineyards to the south and west. The section lies to the west of Section B, the excavation of which was recently published (Khalaily and Vardi 2019). Trial excavations conducted previously in the area of Section A discovered the remains of a densely built and rich in finds settlement from the Late Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (PPNB), exhibiting several sub-phases, as well as remains of a settlement from the Chalcolithic period (Vardi and Mizrahi 2019).
Six strata (1, 2, 4, 7–9; Table 1) were unearthed in the current excavation in Section A; settlement remains were discovered in Strata 1, 2, 4, 7 and 9, whereas Stratum 8 yielded only a single megalithic tomb. Strata 1 and 2, the earliest strata, lay on either sterile soil or bedrock. The stratigraphy discovered in Section A resembles the stratigraphic sequence in other parts of the site (Khalaily and Vardi 2020:76).
Stratum 1 (Areas A3, A4, A7, A9, A10; 0.6–0.8 m thick) is the earliest stratum discovered in the current excavation, dating from the middle phase of the PPNB (parallel to Stratum 4 in Section B; Khalaily and Vardi 2019). The finds comprise mostly architectural remains, including red plaster floors, as well as flint items, including sickle blades with delicate ventral retouch and long, Byblos-type arrowheads.
Stratum 2, discovered in all the excavation areas, is dated to final PPNB (parallel to Stratum 3 in Section B). It comprises dense and solidly built architectural remains that included several construction phases, along with alleys, numerous installations, multiple burials and rich and varied finds.
Stratum 4 (Areas A5, A6, A8–A12) is dated to the late Pottery Neolithic and the Early Chalcolithic periods (parallel to Stratum 2 in Section B). It comprises meager settlement remains founded mostly on the Stratum 2 remains, at times exploiting and modifying the earlier construction.
Stratum 7 (Area A5), dated to the Intermediate Bronze Age, comprises sparse remains—wall stumps and ceramic finds, but no buildings—and therefore will not be described below.
Stratum 8 (Area A6) comprises a single burial dated to Middle Bronze Age IIB: a pit dug down to bedrock through earlier strata, lined and roofed with stone slabs.
Stratum 9 (Areas A5, A6, A11, A12), the surface layer, dates from the Roman period (parallel to Stratum 1 in Section B). It comprises meager architectural remains, such as agricultural terrace walls and walls delineating an ancient road.
All the excavation areas were leveled with a layer of light brown terra-rossa soil containing worn potsherds dating from the Roman period and later. This layer, which was severely disturbed due to plowing, was mostly removed with mechanical equipment prior to the excavation.

Table 1. Excavation Stratigraphy, Section A

Date (BCE; calibrated)
70–330 CE
Roman (Stratum 9)
Middle Bronze II (Stratum 8)
Intermediate Bronze (Stratum 7)
Late Pottery Neolithic/
Early Chalcolithic (Stratum 4)
Final PPNB (Stratum 2)
Middle PPNB (Stratum 1)

Stratum 1 (Middle PPNB)
The architecture in this phase of the PPNB is characterized by two building types: simple rectangular buildings, and buildings consisting of several rooms. The structures were adapted to the gradient of the slope by laying four courses of stone foundations and building a superstructure of lighter materials. Some of the stone foundations were discovered in the excavation, but most had been robbed, and their stones were used to build later structures. In the buildings were floors of yellowish white plaster; most buildings had floors with several stages of repair or had several plaster floors laid in succession. Some of the plaster floors coated the lowest course of the stone foundations.
Area A3 (Fig. 4) yielded the remains of a rectangular structure (Sq AB30) with a plaster floor and part of a substantial wall (W10020; Sq AB32) associated with a large building that was unearthed in Section B nearby. The rectangular structure was built on an east–west alignment in accordance with the slope; only its northern wall (W10053) and a small section of the western wall (W10042) were preserved. These two walls were built of two rows of large fieldstones with a core of small fieldstones between them. The stone walls, which were preserved to a height of one–two courses, seem to have carried mud-brick courses, which disintegrated and left mud-brick debris piled on the floor. Inside the building was a thick plaster floor (L10054), only a small part of which was preserved near the eastern part of W10053. The floor exhibited signs of disturbance, and once dismantled, the burial of a child in a flexed position with its head placed to the north (L10084) was discovered.
Wall 10020 (excavated length 4.0 m, width 0.6 m) was built of two rows of roughly dressed stones and was preserved to a height of two–three courses. This wall is a continuation of a wall (W1253) belonging to a building that was excavated in the west of Area B3 (Khalaily and Vardi 2019: Fig. 6), bringing its total length to about 15 m. Several human burials were found on top of the wall and to its west.
Area A4 (Fig. 5). Architectural remains were unearthed in most of the squares in this area, but the largest concentration of buildings was found in Sqs AV–AW34–36. A large structure—probably a public building—with two construction phases was uncovered in these squares. The remains of a large, rectangular structure (5.0 × 6.5 m) built along a northeast–southwest axis were ascribed to its earlier phase; three of its walls were well preserved (W15013, W15102, W15151). A particularly thick plaster floor (L15190; 0.4 m thick) painted bright red was preserved in only a few patches within the building. Several pits cut through the floor; their openings were covered over with medium-quality plaster. In the later construction phase, the rectangular building fell into disuse, and a larger building built, divided into several sub-units, was built over it. The building’s long western wall (W15047; excavated length c. 8 m) was built of two rows of large stones preserved to a maximum height of five courses. Two partition walls (W15187, W15199) abutted the wall on the east. Several well-preserved plaster floors were discovered in the south part of the building. The floors were prepared in three stages: first, a layer of small stones was bonded together with rough plaster containing thick inclusions; it was then covered by a thick layer of plaster with fine inclusions; and finally, a thin upper layer made of fine, well-levigated plaster with no inclusions and usually painted red comprised the upper layer. A few walls that do not conform to any clear plan of a building are also attributed to this stratum. These walls were built of two rows of medium-sized stones with a core of small stones. A segment of a wall (W15111) whose foundations were built into a layer of terra-rossa soil was found in Sqs AU36–35; a habitation level abutting the wall contained a few tools typical of this period. A circular installation (L15184) was discovered in the northeast part of the area.
Area A5 (Fig. 6). Wall segments and habitation levels in buildings attributed to this stratum were disturbed due to their proximity to the surface and the use of their stones for later construction. Square AO30 yielded a wall stump (W20157) and a habitation level (L20212), and Sq AO32 contained a wide wall (W20163) built of large fieldstones preserved to a height of three courses.
Area A7 (Fig. 7). A wide rectangular building (L30162) with a thick plaster floor was found in the south of the area; its southern side had been washed away. The building was constructed on an east–west alignment on a layer of small, tightly packed stones set on a thick layer of terra-rossa soil. The walls were built of two rows of roughly dressed stones with a core of smaller stones between them. The outer walls (0.6 m thick), only small sections of which were preserved, were wider that the inner walls (0.4 m thick). A wall (W30089; length 7.4 m) in the middle of the building divided it into two wings. The northern wing contained two rectangular rooms, whereas the southern wing had three square rooms. The thick plaster floor was preserved only in the square rooms in the southern wing, whereas in the northern wing’s rectangular rooms only the plaster floors’ bedding remained, made of a thin layer of stones bonded together with lumps of plaster.
Area A10 (Fig. 8). Topographically, this his is the highest area in the current excavation. It yielded a rectangular building (4 × 8 m; Fig. 8) whose outer mud-brick walls were set on stone foundations. The building’s northern, western and eastern walls were preserved to a height of four courses, whereas the southern wall was damaged by a pit dug down to bedrock during the Pottery Neolithic period. Four successive thick plaster floors (L45020, L45047, L45057, L45130) were found inside the building. The lowest floor (0.14 m thick) was laid on a layer of gravel, whereas the other floors (0.1 m thick) were laid directly on top of the other. The lowest and highest floors were better preserved than the two middle ones, which had been disturbed by the digging of numerous pits. The floors’ surfaces had been smoothed and painted red. The upper floor, representing the latest phase in the building’s occupation, contained a lime pit and a row of four stones laid along the length of the building’s interior—probably the bases for pillars that supported the roof. In addition, eight deep pits were dug from this upper floor; four of the pits contained the skeletal remains of four adults placed in a flexed position without their skulls. The building’s plan remained unchanged throughout most of its use, except in the final phase, when a small square room (2 sq m) was added on its eastern side. The series of successive plaster floors discovered in this building and the pillar bases may well indicate that this was a public building and not a dwelling.
Stratum 2 (Final PPNB)
Remains from this stratum were found throughout all the excavation areas; the architectural remains covered approximately 120 dunams. Compared with the plans of the buildings in Stratum 1, the building plans in this stratum are characterized by a lack of uniformity. Parts of the site contained dense architectural remains comprising very small rooms, while other parts contained large buildings with rectangular rooms. Another architectural type consists of a long, solidly built wall abutted by small cell-like rooms. Floors of tamped earth found in the buildings were laid on layers of small stones. Plaster was rarely used in the Final PPNB. A few places contained plaster floors that continued to be used from the buildings of Stratum 1, despite the considerable modifications to the buildings.
The extensive excavation of the dense architectural remains from this stratum, which include both dwellings and public buildings, enables a spatial analysis of the site’s layout and settlement growth. The settlement consisted mostly of dense residential clusters covering large areas (c. 3,000 sq m each), which were separated by open, public spaces that were mostly used as animal enclosures or for industrial installations, as well as several wide alleyways. Within the residential clusters, a similar layout of private dwellings built around a large public building was evident. The buildings were adapted to the moderate gradient of the slope and had stone foundations. In the open areas, purposely laid layers of stones, several quarries and piles of stone debris were also discovered, attesting to intensive stone quarrying. The piles of debris contained mainly small stones that were probably used for construction, such as floor beddings—a tradition that lasted throughout the Neolithic period.
The architectural remains in Stratum 2 exhibit some degree of urban planning, which is expressed in the division into areas of private dwellings and areas of public buildings, arranged in residential clusters divided by alleys, exhibiting optimal use of the natural topography. This is most probably the earliest example of systematic settlement planning in the southern Levant.
Area A3 (Fig. 4) yielded remains of numerous, densely built structures that were poorly preserved due to their proximity to the surface and the prolonged exposure of some to the elements. Most of the remains were concentrated in the center and southwest of the area; two construction phases were identified.
Two buildings (L10031, L10113) and a large silo (W10262) are attributed to the earlier phase. Building 10031 is a long rectangular structure (3 × 9 m), whose eastern (W10097), southern (W10150) and western (W10195) walls were preserved; of the southern wall, only one of two rows of stones was preserved. The building had a tamped-earth floor, which was laid on a layer of tightly packed stones. A few installations discovered on the floor included a hearth (L10206) and a circular pit that was used to anchor a wooden post that supported the roof. The southern (W10118) and western (W10112) walls of L10113 were preserved; they were built of two rows of medium-sized stones with a core of small fieldstones and were preserved to a height of two courses; the lower course was the foundation course, abutted by the building’s floor, whereas the upper course rose above the height of the floor. The floor was made of river pebbles set in a plaster bonding material. A round plastered installation was incorporated in the floor, and two stone tools were found beside it—an anvil and a pounding stone—as well as a few flint items. Silo 10262 (diam. c. 2.5 m) was dug in the ground and lined with medium-sized fieldstones, five courses of which were preserved. A small patch of plaster (L10239; 0.5 sq m) found coating the stone lining on the floor of the silo suggests that all its lining stones were originally plastered. Microscopic analysis of soil deposited on the silo floor discovered a large amount of charred seeds, most of which were identified as lentils, along with traces of straw.
A large structure (L10224) attributed to the later phase was delineated on the north and east by a long, curved wall (W10032, W10127, W10173), which was preserved to a height of one course. Walls 10032 and 10127 were built of two rows of large stones laid on their longest side, whereas W10173 (length c. 1 m) was built between them at a lower level, with two rows of medium-sized stones, suggesting that it may be the foundation of the building’s entrance. The curved wall enclosed the southwest side of a large, well-paved fieldstone courtyard overlain with a thin layer of soft sediment, rich in organic matter. Preliminary analysis of the organic matter shows that it contains traces of animal dung. Several human burials were also discovered in the area, most of them primary burials.
Area A4 (Fig. 5). The area is characterized by gray clayey soil abundant with angular stones, the product of deliberate stone chipping and breaking. All the area’s excavation squares yielded remains of dense building, affected by the area’s proximity to the nucleus of the site and characterized by a lack of uniformity that is evident from the mixture of stone and mud-brick construction. Due to the dense construction, most of the buildings’ plans are incomplete, and they were reconstructed on the basis of their building materials. A few of the structures unearthed in this area are described below.
Remains of two types of building were unearthed in the center of the area: one was a single rectangular structure (L15095), and the other was a wide building with several rooms (L15018). Building 15095 (3 × 5 m) was built along an east–west axis on a slope, and therefore its eastern (W15050) and northern (W15139) walls were wide (0.8 m thick) and built of three rows of stones, whereas its southern (W15053) and western (W15128) walls were narrower (0.6 m thick) and built of just two rows of stones. The building had a tamped-earth floor laid over a layer of small stones; several flint tools typical of the final phase of the PPNB were found on the floor, including denticulated sickle blades and ‘Amuq-type arrowheads. Building 15018 covered a large area (c. 40 sq m), comprising two rectangular rooms. It too was built on an east–west alignment. The building was preserved mainly in its northern part. Its southern part was built over the remains of a public building from Stratum 1, and its southern wall and part of its floor were disturbed by later construction in this period. A circular installation (L15019) in the eastern room was enclosed by a wall built of a single row of medium-sized stones preserved to a height of four courses; it was damaged by activity in Stratum 4.
Further architectural remains in the eastern part of the area were probably built in two construction phases. Two long, broad walls (W15031, W15050) built of two rows of large fieldstones flanked a long, narrow alley. Two small rooms (L15133, L15177) were unearthed to the north of the two walls. Room 15133 (1.9 × 3.8 m) was delineated by four walls, only sections of which were excavated. The room contained a thin floor made of a compact layer of small stones. Room 15177 was a small, cell-like room (1.6 × 1.8 m) surrounded by three thick walls built of large fieldstones; some of the stones had collapsed into the cell. No floor was discovered in the room.
Area A5 (Fig. 6). A few architectural remains are attributed to this stratum. Traces of a building discovered in the northwest of the area included two walls (W20213, W20214; width 0.4 m) and a habitation level (L20240). The walls were built of two rows of stones, preserved to a height of two courses. The building extended into the adjacent area (A6); it was a large rectangular structure with an entrance on its northeastern side and a floor made of a compact layer of stones. A plastered installation (L20256) of unclear function was set into the floor. Immediately to the east of the building was a circular pit (L20248), which was dug into the ground and lined with stones; four of the lining courses were preserved. The bottom part of the pit cut into the earlier layer, Stratum 1. The pit contained copious amounts of ash, charcoal, charred bones and stone tools. It may have been a refuse pit or a cooking installation. A long wall (W20143, W20215) built in along northeast–southwest axis was unearthed in Sqs AP–AQ32.
Area A6 (Fig. 9). Architectural remains of two consecutive phases were found here. Remains attributed to the earlier phase consisted of a large building (Sqs AQ–AR36) and a long alleyway, to the west of which was an open space containing an accumulation layer with abundant finds from the period. The accumulation layer lay on sterile soil and the bedrock. The outer walls (W25076; length 5.2 m, width c. 0.5 m), the western wall (W25171; length 1.9 m) and the eastern wall (W25130; length 1.3 m) of the large building were preserved, as well as a partition wall (W25131) that divided it into a western room (3.40 × 3.44 m) and an eastern room (2.1 × 3.3 m). The building was not fully excavated because a wall and an installation ascribed to Stratum 4 from the Pottery Neolithic period were built over its southern part. The building’s walls were built of two rows of large and medium-sized stones and were preserved to a maximum height of two courses. Three burials (L25112, L25132, L25172) were found in the building and adjacent to it. The long alleyway (L25104; length 18 m) crossed the area from north to south, veering west in Sq AP34 and continuing to the cluster of buildings in Area A8. The alley was flanked by two long walls (W25068, W25070) built of two rows of fieldstones—mostly medium-sized, but some are large—preserved to a maximum height of three courses. The alley was paved with a layer of closely packed pebbles (0.4 m thick). A section dug across the alleyway showed that it had been well maintained; first, a bedding of pebbles was laid, and it was later covered by another layer of pebble (0.2 m thick). The southern end of W25068 was damaged due to the construction of a building on top of it (L20240; see above, Area A5).
Area A8 (Fig. 10) yielded dense architectural remains in which three phases (3–1) were discerned; the two later phases (2, 1) are probably sub-phases of a single late phase. Some of the remains had been discovered in previous trial excavations in the area (Vardi and Mizrahi 2019) and were exposed again in the current excavation. Four building complexes in the center of the area were separated by narrow alleys flanked by massive, wide walls. The complexes abut the alley walls. Each complex contained several small rooms, some of which were cell-like, built around or adjacent to a spacious room or courtyard, which may have served as a communal area. The partition walls separating the rooms were narrower than the solid alley walls. The building complexes remained the same in all three construction phases, despite alterations in their inner division into rooms. The dense construction in the area is probably an indication that the phases reflect modifications and additions to the buildings rather than periods of abandonment and resettlement. The modifications point to a long-term occupation of the site. Each complex apparently functioned independently, yet they were interlinked by long, sometimes massive walls and separated by narrow alleyways allowing for everyday traffic—a plan attesting to optimal utilization of the available space. The establishment and development of the complexes, including the communal areas and alleyways, are evidence of a certain degree of settlement planning.
The remains of walls found in the east part of the area are attributed to Phase 3, the earliest phase, and they probably belonged to several buildings; they extend northward beyond the excavation area and eastward into Area A6 (see above). Remains of a rectangular structure dlineated by four walls (W35069, W35098, W35116, W35132) were discovered in Sqs AM37–38. Several short walls (W35117, W35146, W35321) were found immediately to the south of the building, and a circular installation (L35153) was unearthed to its west. A few walls (W35005, W35006, W35034) were found to the north and south of the building; some form corners and may belong to additional buildings, most of which have not been preserved due to intensive construction in the area. Also attributed to this phase are circular installations containing fills of pink/red plaster (e.g., L35028, L35078 in Sq AL38). The function of these installations is unclear. Similar installations were found in other parts of the site. These installations ceased to be used in Phase 1, the latest phase, when stone walls were built over them.
Several poorly preserved buildings with unclear plans and circular installations are attributed to Phase 2; some of the buildings were dismantled when the stratum’s latest phase was constructed. Despite their poor state of preservation, a few large architectural units were identified, attesting to an increase in building density in this phase. Squares AJ35–36 yielded several walls (W35185, W35208, W35267, W35300) that enclosed a room (L35211); walls of a later phase were built on top of some of these walls. A wide entrance set in W35185 led eastward, into a courtyard (L35196), probably open to the sky. Two walls detected in Sq AK36 (W35076, W35077) form the corner of a building. Two installations (L35078, L35328) in and adjacent to this building consisted of a circle of stones (diam. c. 1 m) enclosing a pink plaster layer (thickness 5 cm). Remains of a long rectangular structure on a northwest–southeast alignment were found in Sqs AL–AM38; a wall (W35007) divided the building into two spaces, an eastern one (L35019) and a western one (L35029, L35068). The western space was disturbed by the construction of the later phase, but its outline is clear. This space contained a wall (W35336) that divided it into two rooms. An installation (L35028) comprising a circle of stones surrounding a pink plaster layer was found in Room 35029. A similar round installation was discovered in Area A6, but only its pinkinsh plaster layer was preserved (L25132). Two installations found previously in Section B (Khalaily and Vardi 2019) included only a stone circle, without the plaster layer. No comparable installations have been found, and their function is unclear.
Architectural remains attributed to Phase 1, the latest phase, were built mostly on a northwest–southeast alignment. Remains of a building (L35079) discovered in Sqs AJ–AK35–36 included two rectangular rooms delineated by wide walls preserved to a height of three to four courses; the eastern room was well preserved. The building’s walls were built on top of the walls of the middle construction phase. This building apparently extends into the adjacent areas, A7 and A9. Next to Building 35079, to its east, was another building (L35061) that was also built along a northwest–southeast axis. It shared its western wall with Building 35079. Of the building’s three rooms, only the two square western rooms were well preserved.
Area A9 (Fig. 11). Like the adjacent area, A8, this area contained dense architectural remains. Some of the buildings are associated with those in A8, and together they probably formed part of the site’s most densely populated residential cluster. Two building phases were discerned in Area 9: small one-room structures were attributed to the early phase, and large structures containing several small rooms built around a courtyard or a wide room were attributed to the later phase. The following is a description of two of the buildings, one attributed to the early phase and the other to the late phase.
A square building (L40220; 4.4 × 4.5 m; Sqs AH–AI35) attributed to the early phase was built over the remains of walls from a structure in Stratum 2. The building’s four outer walls were preserved. This building had been partially excavated in the trial excavation (Vardi and Mizrahi 2019: Area A1). Its floor was made of packed earth overlying a bedding of crushed stones. A circular installation (W40261) in the center of the floor was built of stone slabs with pink/red plaster inside it, like the installations in Area A8.
A wide rectangular building (L40031; Sqs AF–AG36–37) consisting three rooms was attributed to the later phase. The building’s northern wall (W40020; length 10.4 m) and sections of the southern wall (W40084) were preserved, but the western and eastern walls were not preserved, except for the outline of their foundations on the floor. The eastern room was divided into a small room in the north and a large room in the south. The building’s floor was made of a packed layer of small stones interspersed with plaster; it was partially preserved. The building’s entrance was probably set in its southeastern corner, and another opening that connected the central part of the building with the western room was set in the northern part of the wall that separated them (W40082).
Area A10 (Fig. 8). This area is topographically the highest of the areas in the current excavation. There is a high rock terrace in its northwestern part, and a lower rock terrace in its southeastern part. In Stratum 2, construction concentrated on the lower terrace, where remains of a long building were built (Sqs AG40–42). The building’s western part was not preserved due to its proximity to the surface, but the few remaining traces indicate that it was massive. The floor was not preserved, apart from a few patches found beneath collapsed stones. In the eastern part of the building, the long eastern wall was unearthed (length 12.3 m). It was divided into two sections—southern (W45018) and northern (W45033)—differentiated by their building method. The southern wall section (width 0.6 m) was built of two rows of large fieldstones with a core of small stones, whereas the northern section was built of two rows of very large stones with no intervening fill. The use of two distinct architectural methods was dictated by the elevation difference between the two rock terraces. A low bench (W45017, W45098) attached to the west face of W45018 was built of small stones; a row of large stones at its western end was preserved to a height of a single course. Wall 45033 was abutted on the northern side of the building by a lateral wall (W45059), and W45018 was abutted on the building’s southern side by another lateral wall (W45111).
Area A11 (Fig. 12). Remains of a massive rectangular megaron-like building (6 × 12 m; Banning and Byrd 1987) were excavated in the center of the area. Sections of the building’s two thick longitudinal walls (W50119, W50086; excavated length c. 10 m, width 1 m), built of three rows of stones on an east–west alignment were unearthed; they were preserved to a height of 1.5 m. They apparently continue eastward and westward, beyond the excavation area. The building’s entrance (width 1 m) was set in the southern wall. Architecturally similar buildings were found at ‘Ein Ghazal (Rollefson 1989) and Wadi el-emmeh in Jordan (Makarewicz et al. 2019), and they all exhibit the typical megaron-like plan that is common in the northern Levant. Beside the north side of the building’s northern wall was a small square room (L50120) with narrower walls, which was probably a later addition to the building.
Stratum 4 (Late Pottery Neolithic—Wadi Rabah Culture)
The site appears to have lain abandoned after Stratum 2, the final phase of the PPNB, until its resettlement in Stratum 4, in the Late Pottery Neolithic period. As a result, the architectural remains from Stratum 2 remained exposed to the elements for a considerable time before they were covered over by the buildings and installations of Stratum 4. Prior to the building in Stratum 4, the surface was leveled with a layer of closely packed stones. Some of the materials from the Stratum 2 buildings were used for buildings and installations in Stratum 4. Traces of this stratum were discovered in almost all the excavation areas, but the few significant architectural remains were only discovered in two areas (A6 and A11).
Area A6 (Fig. 9). Square AQ34 yielded remains of a square building (L25193) on a roughly east–west alignment. Its thick outer walls (W25189, W25195, W25196, W25202; 0.8 m thick) were built of at least three rows of medium-sized stones; they were well-preserved to a height of two to three courses. The interior was divided into long narrow cells (width 0.6–0.8 m) by partition walls. Similar ‘grill plan’ houses are common in the northern Levant, for example, the Çayönü grill houses in eastern Turkey (Ozdogan 2011), which are larger than the building discovered in the current excavation and date to the northern Levantine PPN. There is also some evidence for the existence of buildings of this type in the southern Levant, but they are dated mainly to the Late Pottery Neolithic period, like the structure excavated at Tell Abu Suwwan in Jordan (Al-Nahar 2010:7–8, Figs. 5, 6), whose plan is almost identical to that of the building in the current excavation.
Area A11 (Fig. 12). Remains were found of a rectangular structure (L50052; Sqs BA41–42); its western wall (W50040) was built mostly of two rows of stones, and its southern wall (W50188) was built of one row of stones. Despite the different construction methods, the two walls were attributed to the same building, as the building’s floor, made of earth and fieldstones, abutted both walls. Furthermore, piles of brick debris were found beside both walls, and had probably collapsed from their upper courses. The numerous potsherds found on the floor are characteristic of the late phase of the Pottery Neolithic period and include two chalices.
Stratum 8 (Middle Bronze IIB)
A megalithic tomb discovered in Area A6 (Sqs AN–AO35; Figs. 9, 13) contained an oval pit (1.07 × 1.40 m, depth 0.85 m) dug into the earlier strata; it was lined and roofed with stones and stone slabs. The pit was dug down to bedrock, which served as the floor of the tomb, cutting into a wall from Stratum 2 (W25080). The tomb had a small, square opening in its east wall. Elongated stone slabs (0.32 × 0.63 m) arranged on either side of the opening served as jambs and supported the roofing slabs. The eastern part of the roofing, which rested on the entrance jambs, was composed of two large stone slabs (0.53 × 1.10 m); the northern part of the roofing comprised two medium-sized stone slabs (0.50 × 0.90 m); and the southern part of the roofing was made of smaller stone slabs. A heap of large fieldstones was piled on top of the tomb. Two individuals were found buried in the northeastern part of the tomb. Grave goods discovered in its southwestern part include two bronze daggers together with three jars. The jars had been deliberately perforated and placed on the skeletal remains of a goat or sheep. One of the jars contained the remains of rodents. The tangs of both bronze daggers retain rivets that were used to attach a handle, which was probably wooden (dagger length 21 cm, width c. 5 cm). Both daggers were adorned with a relief depicting bovine horns on the lower part of their blades. The pommels from the ends of the handles were also retrieved. Immediately east of the tomb entrance, the burial of an entire domesticated donkey was discovered (length 1.47 m; Equus africanus asinus). The head and legs of the donkey were positioned toward the tomb. The stone heap that covered the tomb also covered the donkey burial.
Stratum 9 (Roman Period)
On the surface in areas A5, A6, A11 and A12 were meager architectural remains—mostly agricultural terrace walls, which were partially removed at the beginning of the excavation—as well as Roman-period potsherds. Most of the terrace walls were built of stones in secondary use that were taken from the walls of earlier, Final PPNB buildings. A wide wall built of large fieldstones (excavated length c. 25 m, width 0.8 m; not drawn) unearthed in Area A5 crossed the area from Sq AP30 in the southwest to Sq AS33 in the northeast. Another wall of a similar thickness was found approximately 6 m northwest of this wall and parallel with it. These two walls probably flanked a wide road that may have led from a nearby Roman-period settlement to agricultural plots. Three sections of terrace walls, built on a southwest–northeast alignment like the road, were also discovered farther down the slope, to the south of the road.
The 60 burials found in Section A contained 60–65 individuals, whose remains were fully or partially preserved. Most of the burials (72%) are associated with Stratum 2, dating from the Final PPNB; several (25%) were found in buildings from Stratum 1, dating from the middle phase of the PPNB; and two burials are associated with Stratum 4, from the Late Pottery Neolithic period. Many burials were discovered in areas A3, A4, A8 and A9, where extensive construction was found. Most of the burials (69%) are primary burials, in which the deceased were placed in a pit dug in the ground; some (9%) are secondary burials, most of which were found in individual graves; the remaining burials (22%) were poorly preserved, and it is therefore impossible to tell whether they were primary or secondary. Most of the skeletal remains at the site (76%) are of adults aged 30–50 years; only 6 (0.05%) are young adults less than 30 years old; 4% are adolescents aged 10–15 years; and 16% are infants and children aged 1–10 years old. Division by gender is in the early stages of research; seven males and six females have so far been identified among the burials. In the burials attributed to Stratum 2, which are the bulk of the burials in Section A, a variety of burial positions were discovered, including a flexed position on the side (50%), a supine position (38%), a sitting position (6%) and a ventral position (6%). Some of the burials in Stratum 2 (8%) contained two individuals; these burials are on a northwest–southeast alignment, with the head placed at the northwest end.
The Finds
Flint Items. Section A yielded three flint assemblages, dating to the Middle PPNB (Stratum 1), the Final PPNB (Stratum 2) and the Late Pottery Neolithic period (a variant of the Wadi Rabah culture; Stratum 4). As the research is in its early stages, only the assemblage from the Final PPNB (Stratum 2) is described in this report.
The flint assemblage from Stratum 2 contains a large amount of debitage and tools. The raw material used in the flint industry is local flint from outcrops in the vicinity of Moza. Numerous formal tools typical of this period were found, including arrowheads and sickle blades produced with a unidirectional knapping sequence. Among the most common arrowheads is the elongated, leaf-like ‘Amuq-type arrowhead (Fig. 14), partially or fully worked with pressure retouching (Gopher 1994:36). In addition, a few Byblos-type and Jericho-type arrowheads were found, as well as a few small Ha-Parsa- and Herzliyya-type arrowheads (Gopher 1994:35–48). The sickle blades include thousands of tools with a denticulated cutting edge (Fig. 15). The degree of denticulation ranges from delicate to deep; deep denticulation forms a serrated cutting edge. Some of the sickle blades have one cutting edge, and others have two. Those with two cutting edges indicate that when the sickle was blunted, the blade was detached and re-fixed so that its opposite edge faced outward. Some of the sickle blades with a single cutting edge have a retouched back, while others have a completely unworked back. Dozens of sickle blades were found with traces of a hafting substance—an adhesive that was used to attach the sickle blades to a handle. The cutting edges of the sickle blades were probably shaped before the blades were hafted, and not while sharpening the blades after reaping, as was done in various other periods throughout history (Vardi 2011). Other tool types from this period found in the excavation are bifacial axes and knives (Fig. 16). Most of the axes are polished, mainly on the working edge; some have polish on the body. The thin profiles of the knives show that they were made by skilled flint workers; nearly all are broken. An intact knife with a shaped tang was found in Area A9.
Stone Items. The excavation in Area A yielded 153 stone items, including small finds, vessels, tools and unique objects. Most of the items come from Stratum 2, of the Final PPNB, and a few are from Stratum 4, of the Late Pottery Neolithic period. The small finds include 81 fragments of stone bracelets, six spindle whorls and five stone beads. The stone bracelets are made of hard gray or red limestone; the bracelets are oval in section. One of the bracelets is notched. The stone beads were found near burials.
Figurine. A limestone figurine (Fig. 17) discovered in Area A8 has a simple design and an elongated head, with two grooves for eyes and one for a mouth. The sides of the figurine retain traces of red paint. The elongated head may represent a hat, or it may depict a head that has undergone cranial deformation. Similar figurines are known from other Neolithic sites, including Tell Ramad in Syria (De Contenson 1967), where comparable figurines made of clay were found.
Faunal Remains. Section A yielded large quantities of animal bones on habitation levels inside buildings, in layers of fill, and in open spaces. The skeletal analysis has not been complete yet. To date, 90 animal bones have been identified. Initial analysis of the assemblage of identified bones shows that most (c. 60%) belong to goats and sheep, as was the case in Section B (Khalaily and Vardi 2019). The assemblage also contains a few bones of cows and pigs, most of which were probably not domesticated, and some bones of small species, such as cats (Felis silvestris), foxes (Vulpes vulpes), an otter, a mongoose, a badger and turtles.
Shells. Preliminary analysis of the shells found in Section A shows that they are marine, land and freshwater (lake) species. Fossilized shells were also found, which are naturally present in the local bedrock, and it is not clear if they were deliberately collected. The dominant species of marine shells are from the Mediterranean, although a few Red Sea shells were also found. There are several mother-of-pearl species, some from the Red Sea and others from freshwater; such shells were used to fashion bracelets and armlets. Shells of many land species that are still indigenous to the hill country today were also found.
Botanical Remains. Large quantities of seeds were recovered throughout Section A. A large concentration of seeds found in Silo (L10260) in Area A12, includes thousands of legume seeds (Fig. 18), most of which are lentils (Lens. culinaris), as well as fava beans (Vicia faba) and a few peas (Pisum sativum) and chick peas (Cicer sp.). Preliminary analysis of a sample of the seeds shows that they are domesticated legumes. Over a hundred charcoal fragments were also discovered in various places throughout the excavation, most (c. 80%) of almond trees (Amygdalus sp.), some (c. 20%) of oak species (Quercus sp.) and a few of pine and other trees.
Radiocarbon analysis of three lentil seeds dates them to the Final PPNB (c. 7100–6800 BCE; Fig. 19). These dates are compatible with a radiocarbon date for lentil seeds found in previous trial excavations in the area (Vardi and Mizrahi 2019). The dates determine the Final PPNB settlement at the site to a 300–400-year period. Similar dates have been obtained at many sites from the Final PPNB in the southern Levant, including ‘Ein Ghazal in Jordan (Rollefson 1998:9, Table 1) and ‘Atlit-Yam in the coastal plain (Galili et al. 1993).
The salvage excavations in Section A uncovered the continuation of architectural complexes discovered in the preceding months in Section B. (Khalaily and Vardi 2019). Six strata were discovered: Stratum 1 contained the remains of a settlement from the Middle PPNB; Stratum 2 contained most of the architectural remains in the section, and dates from the Final PPNB; Stratum 4 contained meager, non-consecutive architectural remains from the Late Pottery Neolithic period; Stratum 7 contained very limited settlement remains from the Intermediate Bronze Age; Stratum 8 contained only a megalithic tomb from Middle Bronze IIB; and Stratum 9—the surface layer—contained mostly remains of terrace walls and two walls flanking a wide road and is dated to the Roman period.
The site’s principle stratum—Stratum 2 from the Final PPNB—includes numerous densely built structures, massive public buildings, alleyways running between the buildings, multiple installations—some for storage—many burials and rich archaeological finds, including hundreds of seeds. The finds probably attest to deliberate planning that also included public buildings. Some of the buildings from Stratum 1 were also used as buildings in Stratum 2, when rooms and other spaces were sometimes added to the earlier Stratum 1 buildings. The densest construction found in Stratum 2 was in the western half of the section, suggesting that the nucleus of the settlement was located there. The remains of the settlement from this stratum apparently extend southward and westward, beyond the boundaries of the current excavation.
The discovery of the vast settlement from the Final PPNB at Moza is tremendously important, since prior to this excavation no large settlements from this period had been discovered in Judea. The nearest settlement to Moza from this period is a small settlement at Ashqelon (Garfinkel and Dag 2008). Apart from ‘Atlit-Yam (Galili et al. 1993), no large settlements from this period have been found to the west of the Jordan River.
The remains uncovered in Section A confirm the assumption from the trial excavations that the settlement prospered and expanded to vast dimensions, with remains that covered hundreds of dunams. There are similarities between the architectural planning discovered in Stratum 2 at Moza and remains from the same period at other sites, including Basa in Jordan (Gebel et al. 2004:72–76, Fig. 1), Wadi Shu‘eib (Simmons et al. 2001:9, Fig. 5) and ‘Ein Ghazal (Rollefson 1989). At ‘Ein Ghazal, installations containing red fill like those found in Section A were also excavated. The extensive excavation of the Final PPNB settlement in Section A at Moza refutes previous assessments of an occupation vacuum in the southern Levant during this period with a clear indication that no such vacuum existed in Judea. The excavation findings have therefore drastically changed previous understandings of the beginning of urbanization in the southern Levant.

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