The Mazor-El‘ad region was surveyed in the past (ESI 18:65). This region, located on the western fringes of the Samarian Mountains, has low circular hills that are separated by broad shallow channels, with fertile soil accumulating at their bottom. Dolomite outcrops on the surface of the hills alternate with marl that extends across extensive areas; between them are small cultivation plots of terra rossa soil. The upper bedrock layer is cracked, broken and very thin in several places.
The excavation was conducted in a lot on the high part of the hill where three areas were opened (A–C; Fig. 1). Stone clearance heaps, piled on bedrock outcrops, were visible in the lot, as well as a winepress, cupmarks and a cave. The pottery fragments gathered on surface included several Iron Age sherds, two fragments from the Persian period, seven from the Hellenistic period, numerous fragments from the Byzantine period and a few sherds of black Gaza ware from the Ottoman period. The finds attest to agricultural activity and are similar to those recovered from past excavations and surveys in the region.
Area A. This is the northern of the three areas. A cave, whose entrance was visible on surface, was excavated, as well as cupmarks and a winepress. The natural cave was enlarged by quarrying (length 4.72 m, width c. 2.5 m, height c. 1.6 m). Cracks were discerned in its ceiling, which was therefore removed by mechanical equipment before the fill inside the cave was excavated. The hewn entrance to the cave was in its western side. It was damaged and therefore, its original dimensions and shape could not be established. Steps were hewn in the entrance threshold. The cave had other openings, yet it was unclear if these were original or breached in the wake of weathering. The fill in the cave entrance contained a small mixed assemblage of pottery fragments, including potsherds from Iron Age II (Fig. 2:1), Persian (Fig. 2:2), Early Roman and Byzantine periods and the Middle Ages. A trial square (2.7 × 2.9 m) was opened in the fill of the cave that reached its ceiling and was composed of terra rossa soil and small fieldstones. The fill yielded several non-diagnostic potsherds. It seems that the cave was utilized as a dwelling for shepherds in its last phase; however, it appears to have been initially used as a shelter in antiquity.
Five small cupmarks (diam. c. 0.12 m) were hewn in the bedrock surface of the cave’s roof; a few penetrated the entire thickness of the roof (c. 0.38 m). A small rock-hewn winepress, to the northeast of the cave, was hewn on a slightly elevated bedrock outcrop (5.0 × 6.5 m). It consisted of a treading floor (1.22 × 1.44 m, depth 0.44 m), linked by a hewn channel (length 0.33 m) to an elliptical collecting vat (0.90 × 1.95 m, depth 0.62 m). Near the winepress were five other hewn cupmarks; the western one was connected by way of a small channel to the collecting vat. As the winepress was devoid of finds, it could not be dated.
Area B was c. 5 m to the southwest of the cave. A square (4 × 4 m) was opened in a clearance heap of small fieldstones. Remains of a wall (1.4 × 2.5 m, preserved height 0.48 m), built of large fieldstones and placed directly on top of a rock-cutting, were exposed. A line of small stones (c. 2 m long) at the western end of the wall continued along a northwest–southeast axis. No other remains that could indicate the purpose of the wall were found.
Area C was opened c. 25 m south of Area B and revealed a long stone clearance heap (length c. 11 m). Remains of a wall, built of small fieldstones and placed directly on top of bedrock, were exposed at the western end of the heap. No potsherds were discovered in the vicinity of the wall.