During February–March 2003 a salvage excavation was conducted at Mazor (El‘ad; License No. B-269/2003; map ref. NIG 19510/66177; OIG 14510/16177), in an area slated for construction. The excavation, on behalf of Tel Aviv University and financed by ‘Elia and sons’ construction firm, was directed by I. Taxel, with the assistance of G. Avivi (area supervision and administration), D. Porotsky (surveying), P. Shrago (field and studio photography), J. Smertenko (drafting), A. Speshilov (pottery drawing), as well as A. Shavit and M. Fischer.
The excavated area (c. 150 sq m) was located on the western slope of a hill, east of the previous excavation by Y. Zelinger at the site (HA-ESI 113:53*). The excavation revealed architectural remains from the Hellenistic and the Late Ottoman–British Mandate periods, as well as pottery from the Persian and the Byzantine periods. Bedrock was reached in all areas of the excavation.
Remains of a large structure, probably a dwelling that belonged to the western edge of the Arab village El Muzeiri‘a that existed here until 1948, were discovered in the eastern part of the excavation area (Figs. 1, 2). The west wall was fully exposed (W1; length 11.2 m), as well as parts of the north and the south walls (W2, W3). The walls, preserved a maximum of two courses high (0.5 m), were built of small and medium-sized fieldstones bonded with white mortar, whose exterior face was roughly hewn. The foundations of the walls, which were dug into the soil, and in some places reached bedrock, consisted of small fieldstones, covered with a thin layer of white mortar. The pottery recovered from the foundations of the walls and the surface layer outside the building (L101, L104, L109) dated its construction and operation to the Late Ottoman and the Mandate periods (nineteenth–twentieth centuries CE).
Remains of ancient walls west to this building were mostly founded above bedrock. Part of W1 was built above a wide curved wall (W5; width 0.7–1 m) that consisted of large and medium-sized fieldstones. Its western edge abutted a prominent mass of rock. Two other curved and thinner walls (W6, W9), built of small and medium-sized fieldstones, probably served as two small animal pens (L125, L126), or one large pen (L115), whose floor was the natural bedrock. The pottery fragments, mostly storage jars, retrieved from the foundations of these walls dated them to the Hellenistic period (second century BCE)
Remains of three other walls, which probably belonged to the same architectural complex, were exposed to the west of the previous walls. Wall 8, built of medium-sized fieldstones also abutted the prominent mass of rock. West of W8 were the poor remains of another wall (W4), founded on bedrock. Two cupmarks were uncovered on both sides of W4. The proximity of the eastern cupmark to W4 indicates that it was hewn prior to construction of the wall. South of W4 was a third wall (W7), built of large and roughly hewn fieldstones (width 0.6 m), and preserved a maximum of two courses high (0.75 m). Theses walls could have been part of another dwelling or agricultural structure that was connected to the pens. The pottery found in the foundations of these walls dated them to the Hellenistic period (second century BCE) and included a stamped amphora handle from Rhodes.
The results of the excavation concur with the results of the former excavations at the site. Some activities occurred at the site during the Persian period (sixth–fifth centuries BCE), as evidenced by the small number of potsherds from this period that were found in some places above bedrock. A small agricultural village or a farm existed at the site during the Hellenistic period. The inhabitants of this settlement subsisted on livestock, as indicated by the excavated animal pens. During the Byzantine period (sixth–seventh centuries CE) the area was used for agriculture and possibly some of the Hellenistic walls were re-used during this period, as the few potsherds found throughout the excavated area show. After a long gap, the area was resettled in the Late Ottoman period, when the inhabitants of the El Muzeiri‘a village built a dwelling that damaged some of the older walls at the site.